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You never know who you might meet on a porch in Corsicana. A few Saturdays ago friends invited Houston and me over for an outdoor cocktail party. I loved the diverse group of guests. Most of the evening I chatted with my new friend, Helen Martin, someone I had met several months ago over the phone, but never in person.

Recently I began reading her book, “High Fashion, High Adventure,” so I knew a bit about her. She was a high fashion model in the ‘70s and ‘80s, as well as an avid outdoors woman and big game hunter. It was a joy to sit and chat with this intriguing, yet down to earth woman.

We had been talking for a while when a mutual friend asked for everyone’s attention. She went on to introduce Helen to the group, and then showed off a vintage coat she’d bought online, made by one of the designers Helen had once worked with. Afterward, I watched in surprise and delight as another guest came up and asked Helen if she’d worked at a particular modeling agency. As it turned out, with 15 people in attendance, they had both worked for the same agency, albeit in different decades, and knew many of the same people.

In the hour or so I was there, I had conversations with an actor, a broadcast journalism coach, a writer/editor, several artists and a model. Somehow all of us have made our way to Corsicana. Some were born here and later returned. The rest of us found our new small town in a variety of ways.

Artists and those who appreciate art know that Corsicana has become a creative hub. Some have even referred to it as the East Texas Marfa. I love it. But what I love even more is the eclectic mix of individuals who make up our community.

Pre-COVID-19, my husband and I had big birthday parties, any excuse to have a gathering where we invited friends from a wide variety of occupations and backgrounds, and with different worldviews. Our hope was that when guests left, their world expanded a bit.

I have to be honest: my own default is to go for what’s comfortable, what’s “safe” - people who are similar to me. It’s like slipping into that powder blue, fuzzy robe I had as a teenager. It’s comfortable. It stretches me to be in settings where others aren’t like me. And stretching is good. It’s good for the mind, the soul and for our community as a whole.

As we begin to find ways to get together in social settings again, let’s go with an expectant attitude. Let’s be open to meeting people who aren’t like us. And let’s expect the extraordinary, opening up a world of possibilities. You never know who you might meet on a porch in Corsicana, a patio in Dallas or an outdoor cafe in Waco or beyond.

Sherry Asbury Clark is Co-Founder of Purdon Groves and a freelance writer. Her column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, appears each week in the Corsicana Daily Sun. You may reach her at sherry@purdongroves.com. For more information on Purdon Groves, a farm, table, venue and retreat property, check out www.purdongroves.com or visit their Instagram or Facebook pages.

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