"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
Today is Sunday, February 24, 2013. Today's focus is getting out and making new friends.
It's always been hard for me to move to a new place, mostly because it takes me so long to make new friends. Whenever we moved from one town to another, it was almost always in the summer, between the ending of one school year and the beginning of another. My sister and brothers always immediately went out and found friends in the neighborhood. I always stayed home and read books until the school year started.
One of the biggest drawbacks to moving right after retirement has been the lack of a social life, but in the spirit of re-inventing my life in retirement, I have realized that it's important to cultivate friends. One thing that has really helped to tide me over has been my involvement on Facebook, where I find myself with 691 friends, many of whom I interact with on a daily basis. I have even had the chance to meet many of them in person, which is a comforting thought. No, they're not figments of my imagination.
But in-person friends - that's something that I've never had too many of. I do have lots of acquaintances, and many colleagues who have become friends over the years, but I don't really have any friends that I could call in the middle of the night to come and rescue me, for example.
My friends are all busy people. Part of that is due to the fact that my friends are mature adults with jobs and family responsibilities. Unlike young people who are just starting out in life, mature adults don't always just "hang out" with their friends. Rather, they tend to make specific plans to meet for a specific activity, such as having dinner, going to a concert, etc.
One of the more successful ways of meeting compatible people has been Meetup.com. While I lived in the Twin Cities, I was able to find a writers' group, a group of people taking Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) lessons, and a group of people interested in travel. The latter group group was formed at the time the country was going into a big recession, and nobody actually had any money to travel, so we decided to meet at various ethnic restaurants. That turned out to be a great idea, and we had some pleasant times together. The writers' group bonded much more closely, and I still count the original members as fast friends. I'm so glad that they are online, so that we can maintain a connection, now that I'm living in another state. The Ikebana group also did not exactly bond, but I made a firm friend in the teacher, and am continuing the lessons whenever I get back to the Twin Cities for a visit.
Here in eastern South Dakota, the pickings on Meetup are pretty slim, mainly because people don't use the site here. In fact, most of the Meetup groups in this area were formed by people who came from other areas of the country where Meetup is more widely used. In the Sioux Falls area I have found a group of people who are interested in sustainability, off-grid living, and in general simplifying their lives. We have met several times, and I've learned a lot already about gardening and composting. I hope to put that knowledge to good use this summer in my mom's raised box garden.
Recently I found another writers' group, and I will begin the process of presenting my book to these people to get more feedback. The book is essentially done, except for the fact that it need to be trimmed considerably. I'll be looking specifically for feedback on where to cut.
Fortunately, I have also been able to find a few people here in eastern South Dakota who share my spiritual path. We have a monthly spiritual study class in my home the third Sunday of the month. Many of my Facebook friends share this path, so I always have someone to talk to on spiritual topics.
I guess what I'd like most is to find one or two women friends with whom I can share interests. At some point, I'd like to get out and try the dating scene again, mainly to find some companionship. Although I have put myself out there on a couple of online dating sites, I really think that the best place to meet a man is going to be in a group that shares some particular interest. We'll see how that develops.
I guess what has made this move most comfortable is that I'm actually comfortable being single and living alone. I'm comfortable in the silence of my home, where I do not own a TV. I'm happy as a clam just interacting with friends on Facebook or curling up with a good book. I would be miserable, indeed, if I had not learned to live alone and entertain myself.
Still, I realize that it's best for me to cultivate as many outside interests as I can. It will just take me some time, that's all. :-)