how do you spell participate?

Bump-bump-bumping down the hillside Jack ‘n Jill style, losing my bucket, hair comb and left shoe along the way, I haven’t had to worry much about fitting in since I left New York. I didn’t like Seattle, wasn’t going to stay in Salem or Buffalo, hoped I didn’t have to stay in Spain. I never had to ask myself, “Will they like me? Is my dress pretty? Will I get to play?” because I didn’t particularly want to get involved. And I wasn’t in any of those places long enough to want more entertainment then what fell in my lap, quite bountifully, upon each arrival.

But here I am wanting more, asking questions, developing curiosity about the strangest things. I want to know the best route to the beach, the types of weeds growing along the footpath, the locations of all the libraries, gyms, yoga centers, art supply stores. I want to know about sheep, chickens, homemade jam, who makes the best pasty in Dartmouth. I want to follow BBC sitcoms, join in the debates about London’s plans for hosting the 2012 Olympics, have a favorite beer at the local pub, wave to people as I walk the dog through the fields. I want to be here.

Until I identified it, about three minutes ago, this desire to belong, participate, fit in, become involved, was driving me nuts. For four days I’ve been puzzled by this unfamiliar emotion, frowning like Frankenstein when a small girl hands him a flower and he wonders what this sense of gratitude is inside his heart. Here I sit, tummy full from a large supper, wondering why I feel so desperately hungry.

For the first time in months, I want to be invited to play.

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