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Finding community

Back in September of last year, after selling our house in Victoria, my husband and I flew to Windsor for a one-week whirlwind house-buying adventure in our soon-to-be new city.

During the days that followed the accepted offer on what was to become our next home, we were tasked with several responsibilities which included arranging for home insurance. After a couple of false starts I was able to find a local agent who was associated with our existing insurance provider, and we headed over to his office to make the necessary arrangements.

In the midst of the application process, the agent started having trouble with his computer program, and after a few minutes of irritation on his part, he suggested that since he had all the information he needed from us, rather than sit there and wait for him to sort it out we should go out for a coffee and return to his office in an hour or so.

Not yet knowing the city and its eating places, we assumed we’d end up at one of the ubiquitous Tim Hortons that dotted the landscape like the Starbucks that popped up on every corner back home in Victoria. Before we found a Tim’s, however, one of us spotted a diner close to the insurance agent’s office and we decided to give it a try.

You know how sometimes the little decisions end up being the most significant?

Stumbling across that diner was an act of serendipity.

We were both pretty hungry and somewhat frustrated – we hadn’t eaten much (if anything) that day, which, combined with feeling as though we’d been chasing our tails all over town for the past few days, was quickly bringing us to a point of snapping crankiness.

As soon as we walked into that diner, however, things headed in a different direction.

The owner brought coffee to our table, and almost immediately my husband and she seemed to recognize each other as kindred spirits and started up a joky banter as if they’d known each other all their lives. The hour passed quickly as we enjoyed her wonderful coffee, delicious food, and sass, all served up in a warm and relaxing atmosphere.

It felt as though, in the midst of a strange new city, we’d found a home.

After we moved to Windsor, it was a couple of months before we made it back to the diner, but as soon as we walked in that front door we remembered why we loved it so much. In the weeks that followed a new Sunday brunch tradition began to emerge, and we’ve been cherishing this small slice of togetherness, chatting leisurely over breakfast, and getting to know the owner of the diner (who seems to be becoming a friend).

Today, shortly before we left and as things were slowing down prior to closing, someone at the next table brought out their guitar and started quietly playing “Mr. Bojangles,” upon which an impromptu singalong broke out among the people at his table. How weird and wonderful is that?! I couldn’t stop smiling, and my husband joined in with the group as they finished that song, then sang another, then another. At some point someone added spoons, then a harmonica, to the makeshift orchestra, and though the singing was at times off-key, the spirit of community was in perfect harmony.

We’ve moved across the country, but we’re home.

Laurel Regan – Writer, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, Growlita, iFan, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 18 comments… add one }

  • Jo
    Twitter:
    March 4, 2012

    That’s how you know you’re home. :)
    Jo recently posted… ConfrontationMy Profile

  • Red Dirt Kelly March 4, 2012

    This reminds me of the essay, “Finding Family” in the movie, “Finding Forrester.” The feeling is the same – and believe me, it’s a warm and happy one at that.
    Red Dirt Kelly recently posted… My Little Victory Garden: Al Eschbach, Radishes and BeerMy Profile

  • Peter March 5, 2012

    It’s amazing how a spirit of kindness can be imprinted on a place by either our feelings or perhaps something more basic inside life. I would suggest that everyone find a ‘happy place’ like we have. I’m not sure you can actively search out one, or if you have to open yourself up to being put into the celestial position to be ready for the experience. We do cherish this place and will work to help them survive in these days of fast food and impersonal service. Thank you celestial lights.

  • Tim Casey March 5, 2012

    It’s good to have a place like that, I have a friend with a coffee shop I visit daily.

  • Classic NYer March 5, 2012

    I love that moment… the moment you realize that this is it and you’re home now…
    Classic NYer recently posted… On strawberry cheesecakesMy Profile

  • ElaineLK March 5, 2012

    Nice story, and well told. We have a couple of little places like that–usually breakfast places–where the waitpeople get to know us and bring us our tea as soon as we sit down. The friendly places are a real blessing.

  • Kathy March 6, 2012

    What a remarkably friendly place you found!

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com
    Kathy recently posted… Under the Sea!!My Profile

  • Masked Mom March 6, 2012

    I loved this. As an Army brat who lived a fairly nomadic childhood, I spent a long time searching for these bits of “home” in all our different homes. (Makes me hungry for brunchy stuff, too!) ;)
    Masked Mom recently posted… Masked Mom’s Media Monday: The "Little" NotebooksMy Profile

    • Dawn
      Twitter:
      March 6, 2012

      Thank you! I think it’s so important to make these sorts of connections no matter where we live. And if it’s over brunch, so much the better! ;)
      Dawn recently posted… Keeping me humbleMy Profile

  • Ashley L March 21, 2012

    Hi Dawn! I came to know your website through Blogelina’s blog help group on Fb. I just thought it was interesting that you live in Windsor, as I live right across Lake Erie, in Monroe. On a clear day, if you travel south to Amherstburg, ON, and stay in a little B&B called, McKinnon’s Lakeside B&B, you can see the Fermi towers that create our skyline around here in Michigan. That area, is the start of your wine country that extends itself (in sections) all the way to Niagara. I am minutes away from the shore. My husband and I met in Windsor and like to go back when we can. We are about a half hour from the tunnel and plan to get our children’s passports soon so that they can experience the wonderful Canada, as we have. Nice to meet you, by the way.
    Ashley L recently posted… Water Warriors: Americans Spend $15 Billion on Bottled WaterMy Profile

    • Dawn
      Twitter:
      March 21, 2012

      Hi, Ashley – very nice to meet you! I haven’t had a chance to get to Amherstberg yet, but I am definitely planning to visit! I haven’t been over to the US yet either – all in good time, I guess! Thanks so much for stopping by! :)
      Dawn recently posted… What is a writer?My Profile

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