On Belonging Part II: Comparing Milestones

Tonight CF and I leave our dear Lot 26 alone for the night for only the second time since we’ve fully moved in.  I hope Lot 26 isn’t too lonely without us!  CF is off to record at a friend’s studio, and I am off to have a much needed ladies night with my lovely friends!  (Can you tell I’m excited?  I love dinner dates and sleep-overs!)

But before CF and I head our separate ways for the night, I think it’s time for some reflecting.  Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot (even though the posts may not be reflecting that) about my living situation, my life situation, and the lives of those around me, including my friends and neighbors.

While I’ve been teaching, grading papers, learning how to live in the same space as my significant other, dreaming about our spring trip to London, saving money for that same trip, and working on home renovations, my friends, neighbors and loved ones are all dealing with their own lives:

One friend and her husband are about to close on their first house!

One friend and her husband (just married in July!) are dealing with going to grad school and med school in two different parts of the state.

Another friend just got married weeks ago and is on her honeymoon!

Another friend is having trouble with a co-worker.

One neighbor nearly died last week.  Another has been having his mother drive him to his night shift job because his car broke down.

I also keep hearing about former friends and schoolmates who are about to have babies.

And while I am capable of understanding that none of us are ever going to follow the same path in life, I find myself comparing myself to others.  I think it’s hard not to do this in a world that groups us with others according to age, and then asks us to continue to belong to that group (following the same standards and making the same accomplishments and milestones, e.g. graduation) for at least 12 years.

I know that now that I am an adult, there is no need to look at others around me and compare–no need to live life as a competition. But it’s hard not to sometimes.

Do CF and I need to get married because many of our friends are?  No.  Though it’s nice to think about for the future.

Do I need to feel guilty because I’m not procreating yet?  No.    I’m not ready yet.  We’re not ready yet.

Do I need to own a house because my friends are buying homes?  No.  Shoot, I already own my very own mobile home anyway!

Do I need to compare my life to those of my neighbors, being glad that I’ve not had the same misfortunes they have? No.  But I can be compassionate towards them.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this–I guess what I’m getting at is that the sense of belonging I wrote about several posts ago is still a topic I’m struggling with.  Not just belonging to the trailer court culture or the “class” that I thought I’d be in vs. the one I’m actually in–but also belonging to the “ideal” set out for people my age,  and with my income and relationship status.

Honestly though:  I love Lot 26.  I love my mobile home.  It’s cozy and warm.  And it’s a space the CF and I share.  And I’m happy with where I’m at in my life.

So when will I stop comparing?  Who knows 🙂

The last time I wrote on belonging, one of my commenters suggested that writing helps with the reflecting process–especially when we are reflecting on our own lives and our sense of self.  I totally agree, and while I do write in my blog here, I also write in other forums and genres, one of which is poetry.  (Afterall, I do teach creative writing….)

I’m not suggesting that this poem is any “good,” but I thought I’d end today’s post with it since it too reflects on my sense of self (Also, I can’t get the spacing to do what I want, so bear with me).

Notes from the Trailer Court: In the Beginning


Listen.   I am the dark chuckle within the whisper

of the late summer breeze, the first crackle

of leaf falling to the gutter, the rustle of them

sweeping past parked cars.

I am the silence of the first snowfall,

the stifled gasp the world takes when it sees itself

at its spindly-branched bareness.

Listen.   I am the flap of ripped Visqueen on windows,

the slap of the nearly broken screen door closing.

I am the eerie drone of the wasp displaced.

I am the buzz of the dryer’s finished cycle,

the spongey suck of the roller leaving a fresh-painted wall.

I am the rip of old jeans tearing.

Listen.   I am the sob of disappointment,

the stutter that can’t quite say it, the quick snap

of judgment and the crash of judgments falling away.

I am the sound of hats removed and heads held

downward in shame.

Listen.  Listen hard—for I am

not only the crash of a falling

walnut on the metal roof,

but the quiet thud in the grass below,

the crack in the shell, the anticipation.


About Cathy G Gilbert

I am veggie-loving, community college professor who lives, teaches, and writes in Central IL.
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