Have you settled in yet? Have you found your way around? I find these questions amusing almost a fortnight into my life living in New York. Settled in? I wonder what that really means?
Like anything, words take on their own meaning to the listener. So I have given some thought to what it means to me to be getting settled.
For me it is less about knowing where to buy the bread and the milk, the toilet paper and the washing powder and more about whom I buy them from. Although I confess that I made it a day’s work to find the very best coffee locations near where I live and work!
To be settled for me means to feel comfortable and at ease in my surroundings. It suggests a sense of belonging. And to belong, you have to make an effort and find a way to contribute to your local environment.
My late father taught me the importance of local community since I was old enough to sit upright on his hip and be taken around local shops and businesses. He is still famous in the high street of my home town for his loyalty to community, for his support of small business and for his love of the ordinary person trying to make a go of things. The local grocer, Jimmy, still recounts stories of delivering a box of fruit and vegetables to my father at home. He talks about how they would sit down together, stare out at the sun as it set, share a beer and reflect on the day just been or even lives part lived.
As I make an effort, as I try to remember to leave people better off for an interaction with me, I am finding those connections. I am finding people like Rita at a local wine bar who has an uncanny ability to remember not only her customers’ names and preferences for beverage and food but an understanding of what is on their mind. I am finding people like Joe, behind the register of the local health food store. I was on my way back from the Social Security office and I put down my files and papers to pull out my wallet to pay and he pointed to the label on the front of one of my folders that read “USA visas”. And he looked at me and smiled as he said, “I like that ma’am. It is a good sticker. I am glad you will be staying.” “So am I Joe. So am I.”
And so yes, I can say that with moments like these, I am settling in.
Cassandra Kelly shares her thoughts and personal stories on challenges and opportunities in today's business world.
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