Maybe you know this and maybe you don’t, but last August I moved to a new place three hours south of the old place.  Back to my home state and just two hours from the place I was born.

Bar - Cheers Theme Song graphic

Hometown… in 51 years I’ve called three places hometown, and I mean the same thing and a different thing all at the same time.

The first was where I was born and spent those halcyon days of youth; the second, the place of my children’s births; the third, a place of a sort of re-birth where I wandered among thistles and thorns, but where my children, with all manner of affection, call home.

So now I’m in a fourth home town (which I’m tempted to call my fifth after claiming a German hometown not too long ago) and I’m looking for ways to belong.  Anyone who’s started over understands how hard a thing that is, but how necessary.  Do it and you’re like a tree planted in rich soil near water; don’t, and those roots are thirsting for life in a desert.

These things I know.

I did what any good Christian girl would do, I joined a Bible study at a local church. And if one is good, two must be better, right? Once a week or twice a month I circle up among like minds. I’ve lived long enough to understand that “like minds” means we all profess Jesus but rarely believe the same things, which is just fine. It gets a person to think.

And those things have been good, really good for my soul-weary heart.  I’ve been wounded by the Bride for a lot of years, though it’s hardly her fault. People are imperfect and I’ve held that against them. Ridiculous, isn’t it? But I’ve slipped toward cynicism and that ain’t pretty. In these women I’ve sensed hope, I’ve sipped the sweet taste of community. Huge… h u g e …when you’ve been swallowing sand down a sandpaper throat.

And in this new hometown we’ve stumbled into an unexpected place where we feel like we belong: a wing joint.

And it’s not just at a wing joint, it’s at the bar of a wing joint, which is quite the opposite of ladies Bible study. On the surface, anyway.

My husband discovered it before my son and I moved here to join him; two-for-one wings is a mighty strong selling point when you’re living a bachelor’s life, and the bar is a much more hospitable spot than lone man at a four-top table. All those stools facing half a dozen TVs turned to every sports channel imaginable–it’s perfect company.

He’d be gone long before the meat market opened for business.

So we continued his weekly tradition when I moved here. A night off from the kitchen for me is always a good thing, and typically my son has practice or work.  More Tuesdays than not you’ll find us there along with Holly and Scott and a few regulars–

The 50-something man who’s standing at the bar, bottomless cocktail in hand before we arrive and after we leave…. I’m dying to know more of his story.

The newlyweds who both work at a local college and come there to take advantage of two-for-one wings, like us. It always makes me happy to see them.

There’s something about Holly having our drinks ready as we’re taking a seat and asking us if we want the regular (I’m partial to ginger wings but Tad likes ’em hot).

And I suppose this is exactly the same reason old men gather at Hardees for sausage biscuits and coffee and why churches have Bible studies–humankind’s inner need to belong. It’s a picture of heaven, isn’t it? A place where you’re welcomed and anticipated, where there’s good food and drinks and conversation.

Sitting at that bar, gnawing on chicken wings and barbecue sauce getting under my nails, I’ve thought about Cheers, the 80s sitcom that was more about community than anything else. “You wanna be where everybody knows your name….”

Everybody doesn’t have to be a lot of bodies, just some bodies who actually care.

This side of heaven, that’s when I finally feel like I belong.


Today, I decided to join in Lisa-Jo’s 5-minute Friday prompt, hosted at Crystal’s site since LJ is off the grid. I admit, I took a little longer than five minutes to complete this piece, but once I started, I wanted to finish. Hope y’all don’t mind; it’s not the first time I stretched a rule… 😉

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