Its funny, for all my worrying when we moved here, I have only ever been snubbed once (in public, by a stranger) for being pagan… And that was in New England! A few years ago we went to the local park on a week day morning and found that there were a whole bunch of kids running around the playground. Which made me automatically think “homeschoolers”.
Hannah asked one of the little girls around her age and confirmed that they were indeed a homeschool group.
I went over to talk to the other moms and discovered that they all lived in our town and they met at the park every week! Then one mom mentioned that they were a christian homeschooling group.
I smiled when she told me, but inside I was already a little worried. What would they say if they knew I was a witch? I hoped that they would be cool, or at least tolerant since we had to share the same playground, but you never know how people are going to react. So I didn’t say anything and we kept on chatting about curriculum choices, baby carriers and favorite healthy snacks. It was quite pleasant until the head mom happened to glance down at my hand and saw my (tiny, silver wire) pentacle ring. She made a face and looked at the other ladies as she said, “I think I am going to go get some sun.” Then they ALL, as a group, walked quickly away from me without saying a word and formed a tight knot on the other side of the playground. They stood (In the shade, mind you) and whispered, looking covertly at me over their shoulders. They pulled their kids to the side one by one, and soon enough Hannah was playing alone. Not one of them said another word to us while we were there Not even a polite “goodbye” as we passed them on our way to the parking lot.
I felt so bad that day. I just didn’t understand why it is considered acceptable to shun and mock another person because they happen to believe differently than you do. It has stuck with me ever since, and once we had decided to move to a state in the “bible belt” I started to worry that this sort of thing would start to happen to us more frequently.
I was so nervous about moving to Missouri. I remember wondering what it would be like to be a pagan in the bible belt. My apprehension increased when I saw the giant crosses visible from the highway and the multitude of billboards dedicated to Jesus. Missouri IS very different than Rhode Island. And there are lots of things I wish I could have back. I miss my family and my friends. I miss the ocean and Portuguese food and visiting my dad’s grave. I miss the abundance of good seafood and the forests and Trader Joe’s. But I am happier here than I have been anywhere else in a long time.
The reality is that despite my fears, Springfield is a pretty open-minded place. In fact, I have felt more welcomed and accepted here than I ever did up North. I have found a secular homeschool tribe. My kids have friends so close they are more like siblings. We are having another baby and *I* have friends that have offered to help me in the first weeks after the baby is born so this time I won’t have such a terrible struggle to do everything while I heal. My husband has found a job he loves and we get to see him every day. I get to sing with a band. We have a big house and car that runs.
This town is a good place for us to be.