Sometimes you need to be the one making the effort even if you’re not sure how it will go over. Because here’s the thing about being retired AND moving away: it’s hard to make new friends. You don’t have a workplace or colleagues to forge bonds with. You don’t bump into people you know at Whole Foods or Starbucks. You are a ship adrift in foreign waters and you need to chart a different course. And to beat that ocean metaphor to death, I’m still floundering. But I’ve also discovered something else about myself: I don’t necessarily need to make new friends or new connections. I’ve friended myself.
During the pandemic I began to revisit things I loved but had let lie fallow for a bit. One of these was writing. I joined the BA50 blogging class over a year ago and have thrived in developing my neglected voice. Even though we’ve never met I’ve come to rely on and adore my Zoom-mates (see what I did there?) and look forward to our weekly catch-ups and sharing of essays. Our group texts ping pong between the enlightening to the hysterical. We have become one another’s biggest cheerleaders, mourning losses and set backs and celebrating happiness. THESE are the connections I need and if they’re only virtual thus far, a meet-up has been made for a few of us to have lunch at a halfway point. We are women of words AND actions.
A second writing group has enabled me to renew friendships with folks whom I went on retreat with four years ago. This group is completely different from the other, the writing more varied, yet the two groups complement each other. Between them, my writing has evolved to the point where I am much more comfortable sharing my pieces publicly. Yesterday I entered a writing contest. New Liz/who ‘dis?
Maybe it’s the lessons I learned during quarantine or the wisdom of years, but I’ve become more comfortable in my own home. My marriage has a well-worn routine and if it’s not chock full of travel and adventure plans I appreciate the companionship and love of the good man I married almost forty years ago. Our children and grandchildren are nearby and we get to be a part of their daily lives. But we don’t need to be with them every day in order to fill up the hours.
I am aware enough to know that I am lucky and blessed to be in this comfortable place at this point in my life. I am also aware enough to know life turns in an instant. I am not Polly Sunshine but I know to appreciate what I’ve got while I’ve got it because everything changes and I will experience loss and eventually that will include me.
In the meantime I’m meeting friends for lunch; new friends I’d made at the gym pre-pandemic but thought wouldn’t sustain post. But guess what! They were excited when I proposed a time and a place so Friday it is. I’ve joined a local Wine with Friends Facebook group where you post your wine/snack preferences. Someone picks you, you pick someone and you leave a surprise basket on their door step each month. I’ll let you know how it goes. I just bought tickets to see a local production of “Love, Loss and What I Wore” and my besties are coming in for a weekend in July. I’m back baby and ready to resume having fun. Life goes on.