Connecting the Dots
People try to make connections in every way possible – following instructions, matching checks drawn to those not cashed on your account, playing games, looking for landmarks when navigating an unfamiliar location and yes, meeting new people. The last I think, is the hardest for some and for others, it’s effortless. When I first went off to college and then in my early 20s, I broke out of my shell and made the effort to meet new people. In college, then living in Manhattan and spending summer weekends on Fire Island, (a small barrier island off the coast of Long Island) afforded me to the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing and wonderful lifelong friends. I consider myself truly fortunate to have these people in my life. Many of these individuals have come into and out of my world from life’s pulls, taking us in different directions yet; I still feel close and connected to them. Some of us meet annually over Thanksgiving weekend – a long standing tradition that I am afraid I might miss as I am now uncertain if I will be in New York over the holiday weekend or returning to Raleigh before this event takes place. Just the thought of not attending leaves me with a with a profound sadness. Some of my other friends have reconnected after many years apart and it was as if time ceased to advance and we were all meeting for happy hour. Our conversations and connection with each other were as present as they were 20 years ago. My friends from my home town, fall into this category as well, the ebb and flow of involving ourselves in one another’s lives – from the BFF I met in 7th grade home room to my now former neighbors, I feel a connection that I hope will bond us until we are old, talking about our grandchildren and body ailments (oh wait, we are already doing that!). I bring this up as this is what I am sure I will achieve, the closeness of a friend, where we can pick up right where we left off, and I look forward to duplicating these connections in some way or another in my new environment. I cannot comfortably say that this is my home but this is where I now reside.
It is amazing that when I announced our plans to relocate, inevitably someone knew someone who lives here, a friend, colleague, relative, or a friend of a friend’s brother’s cousin’s sister in law. ‘You should call them” they said. Well what do I have in common with them besides geography? It is just like a blind date but weirder. At least with a blind date, there was a common theme – to hopefully find that love connection. Calling someone out of the blue felt like an interview to see if I am friendship material and left me feeling uncertain. With all good intentions, calling someone because we are in the same locale was more than challenging. Somewhere along the way, between the time I met my husband to now, I somehow closed myself off to venturing out and meeting new people. I didn’t involve myself in my son’s school activities all that often as I was too busy working, hesitated calling parents for play dates when my son could play with the neighborhood kids or was too afraid to go up to a person I recognized doing something similar to me, because I was fearful of a rejection, that feeling I felt long before college and well into my dating career. I didn’t want that to happen with potential friendships, so I steered clear of them. Besides, I had the comfort of my husband and son to keep me company while staying in on a Saturday night.
Now that I am 99% unpacked, I have no excuse but to make those calls. It dawned on me that if someone I know happens to know someone who lives in Raleigh or nearby, who would be willing to take the time out of their schedule to talk or meet with me, was worth knowing. The first call was the most awkward but I got through it and made several others to those that were expecting to hear from me. I am more than grateful that these people took my call and even suggested to meet me for coffee, a drink or to break bread. I know how life gets in the way, so someone taking the time out of their busy schedule to meet me is both humbling and rewarding. Some of the people that I have had the good fortune to meet have been more than helpful, in ways I cannot fully articulate. It could be that geography really is playing its role because those that I am making a real connection with have all been where I am now and geographical circumstances are bringing us together. They too, have been through the relocation process and can empathize with what I am going through.
Forcing myself out of that familiar comfort zone has been both exciting and nerve wracking. I joined PTA and volunteered to be a class parent for the first time in my son’s educational career. I am not the crafty type so I hope the kids and teacher won’t hold it against me. Thankfully, the school is offering an orientation for new class parents and I hope they will teach this ill equipped mother how to make those bows that curl and fun loving crafts that even a novice like me can do. Funny, in my former life (anything pre-child) I used to manage large conferences and travel the world with confidence, and now being ‘that parent’ is what keeps me up at night riddled with anxiety.
I too, am involving myself in a newcomers club, am joining a gym that I hope to use and not just pay for and plan to take up golf, a promise to myself that when I had the time and inclination, I would learn. I am positive that these and the many others outlets I involve myself in will move me forward to complete my picture like those random numbered drawings that come together at number 99.