Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Transitions and/in Friendship

So interesting what happens through the process of writing this blog and then watching your responses to it, reading through your eyes to get some distance from what I've said, what I'm feeling. As well, of course, between posts Time is Passing, Life is Happening!  Moods and emotions that seem so pressing one day fade to the borders of irrelevance by the time I get back to the keyboard.  I posted two weeks ago that I'd been labouring, paragraph by paragraph,  to explain the transitional space moving had plunged me into -- relief, melancholy, a sense of suspension, anxiety, anticipation -- and why the visit to Ottawa and Montreal had been a great antidote to that. More paragraphs jostled to describe how I'm attempting to build creative and productive new patterns and possibilities in the undeniably small, cluttered, temporary space we're in until September.

Having parked the noisy, messy clamour of those too-many paragraphs (talk about clutter in a small temporary space!) in my Drafts file, I wrote that Monday-two-weeks-ago post as a quick "Hello" to you, summarising what I was trying to organise behind the scenes, and postulating that I'd probably need to divide my processing into three separate posts.

Well. Turns out, as I should have remembered, that you are all very clever readers with considerable life experience between you, and you collectively responded along the lines of "Of course you're feeling a variety of mixed emotions. You've left behind one way of life and are trying to imagine the next with faith, but you're in a temporary space right now and that's going to make for some sadness along with the hope and joy and excitement. So happy you had the time away to be nurtured and to get some perspective. Take your time settling back in, and maybe don't expect too much of yourself." I'm simplifying, of course, in my paraphrase, making a composite comment out of a wonderful array of individual responses.

Reading those comments, I saw that you already got what I was working to articulate. It's not that complicated. And I've got company. I can feel my horizon expanding far out of the confines of this small apartment, beyond the quiet fears that the move may have closed me in, away from my old identities as a working academic, as an islander, both of which I've let go in the last year.

So I'm gladly relinquishing any need to belabour the worries or the melancholy anymore (for now, that is -- should they get too insistent again, you'll probably have to suffer a whinge or two). We already know, writer and readers, that those are part of the landscape.  Instead, now, I can shift to a happier focus . . . friendships. Moving means not only leaving many behind, geographically at least, but it also means the corollary, making new ones. Sad, but also exciting-with-a-touch-of-intimidating.  It's been a few decades since I've had to make friends "from scratch" in a completely new geography, and I won't quite have to do that in Vancouver, since I already have a family network and some, hmmm, latent or dormant friendships I hope to develop.

But there's no question that I'm going to have to get out there and work some social skills,  do some version of meet-and-greet, not quite speed-dating or blind-dating, but definitely, for my personality, some draining of the social energy bank.  A significant reason for leaving our island home now rather than in a few years was to get started on building the all-important network of friendships I hope will sustain me through my remaining decades. So this is no time to be shy, and my Social Introvert self needs to channel the Social in that label. My Ottawa-Montreal week gave me ample opportunities to practice, and even though the friends I visited there won't be part of my Vancouver life, meeting them freshened my perspective on friendship in general, but also, specifically, on making and maintaining friends at a certain age in a digital world.

I already mentioned that we visited Ottawa friends while we were there, a younger couple we've known for about twenty years, one of those friendships we've been able to sustain through visits every few years, and more recently, through Facebook. Facebook was also instrumental in another visit I made last week in Ottawa. Through it, we've reconnected with a couple we knew over 30 years ago when we both lived in a small coastal town in northern BC.  Reacquainted through FB, but living across a big country from each other, we met for dinner last fall -- in Paris! And when M saw, also via Facebook, that we would be in Ottawa, she "messaged" me, and invited me to lunch at her home.

She also generously picked me up at our downtown hotel, and we spent the twenty minutes' drive catching up, chatting happily away -- not until we had cleared the freeway off-ramp, manoeuvring obviously toward a suburban subdivision, turning past a mall and onto a pleasant, leafy street lined with single-family homes, not until then did M turn to me and say, "Oh, and I've invited some neighbours to join us for lunch." And chuckling at her ploy, assessing my response (honestly, I think I hid it well, but there was a moment of "oh dear!" followed quickly by an "It will be fine" followed by "might even be fun"!), she added, "I don't cook for one!" and then outright chortled, and I couldn't help but join in.

And honestly, it was the loveliest two hours! I don't know M. particularly well -- over 30 years ago, for about a year we had a monthly "dinner club" with two other couples, and M. and I also belonged to a women's group that met monthly. I'm not sure that we ever visited together, just the two of us, nor even just she and her husband with me and mine.  But the foundation of basic liking each other and of having known each other for so long (I met her vivacious, warm, hilarious mother on several occasions; I remember her kids as babies and toddlers and earnest Grade One students) and then the shared dinner in Paris last year placed her in a special category of friends. So now, to get to see another facet of her,  entertaining neighbours beautifully and easily in her back garden, was a real treat, and it added significantly to my appreciation of her.

Not surprisingly, in retrospect, I liked her neighbours very much, and I enjoyed the lively, open, intelligent and thoughtful conversation beyond what I might have imagined. I am unlikely to meet these women again (although one owns beachfront properties in her native Spanish town, and I'd love to rent one sometime),  but I could easily envision being good friends with any or all of them. Three spoke two or more languages, two were writers, all were excellent listeners and great story-tellers. . . And all four women sitting around the table with me encouraged my stories and listened to me attentively as well. I was admitted into their friendship for those two hours, and I've been thinking on and off, ever since, about how good that felt, about the peculiar rich mix it was of old and new -- not only in that my friendship with M is old, while that with her neighbours is new and probably a one-off, but also in the way the new situation -- finding myself at a table with a group of women I barely know, and yet talking quite unreservedly about surprisingly personal issues -- recalled the old occasions of getting together at various tables with other mothers when my kids were young.

I'm also struck by the way old and new mix it up in the way the afternoon came together -- that is, M. and I met so many years ago by a confluence of intersecting relationships,  and our meetings must always have been arranged by phone, or by deciding in person on our next get-together and then writing it down in day-planners or trusting to memory. We probably exchanged Christmas cards for a time, and I know I heard how she was doing via letters from a mutual friend. I called her once, ten or fifteen years ago, when I was in Ottawa, and had a long-ish chat. And then the friendship languished... Until the new technology of social media -- Facebook, in this case -- brought us together again.  New school. But that gathering around her back-garden table was purely Old School, and I loved it for that. No one hauled out a phone for a selfie, not a single second of our happy lunch was shared on Facebook, all that warmth and laughter and trust stayed right in those two hours, in that charming backyard garden. . .

So over the next several weeks, in another two or three posts, I hope to write a bit about Friendships in Transitional Times, and while I'm thinking primarily about my own transition geographically, away from one set of friends and (hopefully!) towards another, I'm also thinking about transitional times within friendships (sometimes more intense, sometimes very tenuous, sometimes background, sometimes an everyday presence), and I'm thinking about the transitional times of our life as women of a certain age -- or men, should there be any male readers here, which I would love to hope -- of any of us moving through retirement or making a career move that shifts friendships or moving from single life to married and discovering ways that changes friendships. And, as I've suggested above, I'd also like to fold in some consideration of the Transitional times we are in right now in terms of the technologies that mediate and support friendships.

Much room for contemplation and discussion, then, and I'm not sure how well I'll be able to steer this ship, but I won't mind at all if you shift the wheel a degree or two with your comments. Perhaps we could begin by my asking you if you've had long-time friends resurface in your lives recently, particularly if that was expedited by Facebook or other social media. Even if not, I'm very interested to see how the relationship sparks were re-ignited.  Also interested in the role that new friends are playing in your lives these days, although perhaps we'll talk more about that in future posts.  Another possible angle is that concerning those people you meet and connect with for a few hours, and you just know you would be good friends if you lived closer,  but instead just enjoy the time together for what it is. Your turn, then, grab the mic, jump in . . .

Before I close, let me just say that I know some of you take longer than others to think about a post and the ensuing conversation here and by the time you're ready to comment, you feel as if the rest of us have moved on. Please know that I will always see your comments, even if they're added weeks later, and I'll do my best to respond. And, of course, as the blogger in charge here, as someone who puts considerable effort into writing these posts, it's always gratifying to know that whatever I've written or whatever conversation I've stirred up has kept you thinking. . .



107 comments:

  1. preaching to the choir and struck a nerve.
    My introvert means I usually prefer to have just the one close friend. Transitions and moving (emigrating and immigrating a few times) has broken that pattern.
    Now I 'sweat blood' to make a new friend (yes common interests - music and hiking) and retrieve old friends who have also moved here (again music and a choir).

    But making new friends looms over me like a dental appointment. Shudder.
    Good luck!

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    1. I'm curious now to know what part of the process has the aura of a dental chair (great analogy!), Diana. Is it broaching the initial barrier? the small talk? the suggesting of a quick coffee date, fearing rejection?
      And if the process is rather dread-ful, what impels you toward it? Do you otherwise feel lonely? Do you want the stimulation or the support of friends (which seem to me two different possibilities, although they often come in the same package)? And do you find that, having moved, having performed the friend-making trick a few times, you have some confidence that you can do it again? (the case for me, although I do wonder how age will inflect that)

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    2. the first meeting - all the questions to ask - is wonderful.
      It's the SECOND time ... when I must remember what you did tell me last time.

      Not a people person. I enjoy my home comforts. From reading my chosen blogs, my filter bubble says I am among 'my tribe'.

      Mostly I feel like a bonsai tree - torn up by the roots so often - that I have learnt to live happily in my 'have pot, will travel, or not'.

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  2. I have my husband and my reasonably large family nearby. I have my best friend of 25 years in New Jersey by phone. I have my online crew. And I haven't really felt the need for more. I do miss having colleagues, however, vs. friends, and I am hoping that when the school year starts the volunteering can begin again, and that working with a teacher fills that gap.

    If not, I am considering either going back to school in user experience design, or, writing a novel. Ha! My imagination clearly keeps me good company;).

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    1. I, too, have those resources -- husband, some really good friends on the island, large family, online crew. . . also miss colleagues, although some have become good friends and are still in my life. They were my tribe in an aspect of my intellectual and perhaps even political life that I didn't find so much elsewhere.
      I think a focus on activity (volunteering, going back to school, writing) is perhaps the best route to finding/making friends, although it's not your primary goal in those activities. But I think it's the path I'll follow to new friendships. (and you know all your readers want you to write that novel!)

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  3. This post is exactly why I keeping returning to your blog. Honesty, intellect, thoughtfulness, kindness, confidence, inquiry, growth, etc. It is never boring here!
    I and my husband have such different types of friends. He has maintained childhood friends and sees them frequently through golf and fishing. I have more in quantity but without the dedicated connection he seems to have. I must admit to a bit of jealousy. :) Perhaps its the activity? He sees the difference, too. I also think that I might be too independent.
    I recently asked a 93 year old, vivacious woman for words of wisdom. She replied that her involvement in her church and having friends "of all ages" keeps her engaged in life. I loved this.
    I look forward to this ongoing dialog! Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Charlene -- you are always so kind and encouraging!
      My husband and I have very different approaches to friendships as well -- that might be the topic for a whole other post! I think jealousy often surfaces when we compare aspects of our lives as important as friendships -- but we're all so different.
      My mother would have been happier and healthier if she'd been able to nurture friendships -- her shyness and introversion kept her lonely and wish/wistful. . . I'm hoping to do better, believing your 93-year-old friend's wisdom. . .

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  4. I live in the same town where I grew up and went to school and so many of my classmates still live here...s it is easy to feel surrounded by friends....I am fortunate to have a long time friend from grade 3 and we are very close, socialize several times a week and our husbands gte along so that makes for lots of entertaining times.
    Since retiring I have joined a club where I play bridge weekly and am getting more involved in the fundraising and have met many new and delightful women.
    Meeting people and reconnecting after years have passed is quite a gift mater and you seem to be embracing new friendships as your move from your small island to the bigger city will provide you with many more opportunities to expand your realm of friends...keeping in touch with the old ones may require more effort now that the ocean separates you all.
    Look forward to hearing and reading more of your thoughts...

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    1. You're very lucky, L, to have those friendships of such long standing. I will admit to being envious, but I also appreciate the opportunity I have right now to write on some fresh new pages. . . ;-)

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  5. I think I've left it too late to become a party animal , somehow . A coffee with a couple of good friends and the odd chat to a neighbour or market stall-holder , 'phone calls with daughters and a giggle or two in the Keep Fit class ( the name , alone , is cause for hilarity given our general fitness levels )are about as sociable as my life gets these days .
    You are definitely braver than I am and I hope you have a lot of fun breaking the ice ...

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    1. Ha! I don't think party animal is in my repertoire. But I would like to be able to count on coffee and a good, long conversation perhaps every week or two, a long lunch with a good friend at least once a month, and then, as you say, those passing small social exchanges that nourish a pleasant sense of belonging. The phone calls with daughters are lovely, but not to be counted on, I find, at this stage of their lives, which is very busy -- it's really important to me that they see me as socially independent, probably because my own mother was not that at all and we all felt obliged to meet her social needs. So complicated, all these intersecting narratives, really. But making friends is going to be lots of fun, I will hope along with you. . . ;-)

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  6. Being the same age as you and widowed last year I am also in the process of change. I have chosen to move this coming autumn, from a suburb to a nearby city, and hope to make new friends there. Hampered not only by a tendency to being introvert but also by a degree of face blindness. Or rather a very bad memory for faces. I think I loose new friends as fast as I make them, by not recognising them when we meet again. I do appreciate your writing, please, continue.

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    1. First of all, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, and I applaud your willingness to take on a move. I hope you find city life as energising as we currently are finding it to be.
      Really interesting what you say about your memory for faces -- you make me wonder about what I think of as "social skills" and how this is more complex that I'd thought before. My husband hasn't a particularly good memory for faces -- or rather, I think he doesn't pay much attention the first time 'round. Once someone's actually registered with him, I think he does better, but he tends to discount much of his surroundings to focus on whatever his mission might be at any moment. . . Is your process/response similar? Does it make a difference if you've met someone singly or as part of a group?

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    2. Thank you so much for your kind words. I am really looking forward to exploring new surroundings. It does not matter at all if I meet people singly or in a group. and I do focus. I can easily remember their names and what we spoke about. I just do not recognise them next time. I t is extra difficult to recognise people in a different surrounding. And hopeless if they change glasses, hairdo or haircolor ;-). But it really helps if people say "hello". I have found, since I became aware of this condition that I am better than I ever imagined at recognising voices. And when I get to know people well recognition gets much easier. If you want to see if this is something your husband might have, just google prosopagnosia. //jhf

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    3. jhf, I've heard of this -- fascinating, and I can only imagine how difficult it must be to live with. Also imagining it might have intensified your grief at losing your husband... take care.

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  7. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to more about your adventures in widening and reinforcing your circle. For some time now I have been troubled by worries that I have failed to maintain and expand friendships, focusing instead on marriage, family, and work. Coupled with my natural aversion to taking the first (or often, even second or third) step, and who knows where this aversion comes from, the situation is such that I have resolved to remedy it. This will, I am sure, require courage and commitment, and I believe I will find some of those through observation of your own efforts. So, merci en avance.

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    1. So glad this post resonates with you, Marsha. I'm so gratified by the conversation that's building here. Curious to know (and perhaps I should know this now, but I can't remember) if you are still working or have you already retired -- and do you think this will make a difference to your determination to pay more attention to friendships?

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    2. Not quite retired, but choosier about work I accept, and I do have more time now that should be dedicated to things more important than fiddling around on the computer (excepting, of course, when I am reading your blog!). I hope it will make a difference, but I struggle daily with what my father referred to as "initial torpor," which perhaps hides insecurities that I need to face.

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    3. Ah, your father's term is so apt-- I recognise that! Something I did worry about with retirement, especially when we were still on the island, is how easy it was to hunker down at home. I am quite content with my own company for rather long periods of time and, yes, one needs to overcome that "initial torpor" (or sometimes a "prevailing torpor") and get out there. I know something of the hidden insecurities as well. . . I've been much heartened by connections I've made and strengthened recently though, and I suspect/hope you will find the same.

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  8. You're going to do a great job sharpening your social skills. Just think about learning French - it's kind of the same. You put your brain into a new gear and watch it engage! You have so many interesting things to talk about that the convo will take care of itself within 5 minutes.

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  9. I used to think that I was shy but now I know that, with the right group of people, I am capable of making new friends. Today, I had my first class at the Alliance Française and I noticed two women that I certainly could have a coffee with. We already share a love of French and travel, and we all used to teach. It is a brilliant idea to build your friendship network and to hone the "friend-making skill" now so that it will help you through life's inevitable changes.

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    1. As I said to Lisa, above, I think making friends through activities we enjoy is a win-win. Even if we don't make new friends, we at least pursue something we want to learn or do, and if/when we do find a new friend through the activity, it's with someone who shares at least one of our interests. I'm not quite ready to begin classes, but I wish I could have been in that class with you. (and I think we need to arrange to get together one of these days -- perhaps before you head off to the Shetlands)

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  10. Friendship is so crucial to our lives, as it often balances, outlasts, or even transcends our partnerships, should we have them. Of course a partner can also be a friend, but I think it would be narrowing and stifling to have a partner as our only good friend.

    Knowing only me and my partner, my mother and father, then in their mid sixties, moved to this town from a city where she had many enduring friendships. She and my father were perplexed that at first they only met trades people as they made some changes to their new place. But over the years they made many, many good friends, through their church (so often a mainstay in older people), a walking club, a book club, a lecture club for retired people, and now in her assisted living place. She, who is blessed with so many friends, told me that she had to will herself to get out there and meet people, especially after my father became ill fairly soon after the move. You would never guess she has an introverted side to her. Happily, she is also still in touch with her old friends from other cities where she lived and they still visit, although the numbers get smaller and smaller as she is in her eighties now. So that little mental push saying “I am going to talk to someone new today, go to a class, find a knitting circle, look into community events,” is crucial, although I know how hard it is: the dread of the dental appointment, indeed.

    Brenda

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    1. So interesting, Brenda! Because of where the town you speak of is, because it's the one I've just moved from, the phenomenon you describe is one I marveled at through our early years living there -- it's a town that attracts retirees for weather and lifestyle, but still, I was amazed to see, over and over again, my friends whose parents had joined them there, abandoning intricate social networks thousands of kilometres away. And over and over again, I saw the same thing happen -- with a reasonable amount of social effort, most of those new arrivals were happily ensconced in very active, engaged lives full of stimulating new friendships, generally within the first or second year. My astonishment was heavily influenced by my mother's personality -- she couldn't have managed this, or at least not as we knew her. . . I have to look around to other examples, such as your mom, such as all the retirees I saw make these moves successfully. And even on days when it has all the appeal of a root canal, I need to make the effort, I think, that mental push you describe. As your mother demonstrates, it's worth the effort (and it takes so much pressure off you, the only adult child she has within a reasonable distance).

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  11. A few months ago I met a woman who had been my neighbour and friend in a students' residence some 40 years ago. In the meantime we had exchanged a few letters and postcards, but when I had to go to my old university town (where she still lives) I found out her current address and contacted her. We met for lunch and and it was amazing. She is as mad as a hatter (always has been) but (or rather: that's why?) we talked as if we had seen each other regularly all the time. Since that moment we have exchanged a few emails and I think we will meet a bit more often from now on.
    For about 20 years now I have been inviting around 15 people for coffee every year in January to celebrate my birthday. This year I decided I wanted a garden party in the sunshine, so I asked the "usual suspects" to come to my garden by the lake in June. I might as well have stuck to the accustomed date. The weather was frightful. Cold wind, rain, even a hailstorm. But my guests were happy entertaining each other. I remember one moment sitting there, watching all these people chatting along and thinking: "These are my friends. These are the people I could turn to if I needed help." It was a very reassuring thought. And those were only the people who live in my home town. There are all those who live in different cities or in other countries...
    The last 15 years of teaching have given me not only many wonderful colleagues, but also two or three new friends. On the other hand work has often kept me from keeping up older friendships the way I would have liked to. I hope to remedy that when I retire and have more time (hopefully).
    Looking back, I find that there are three ways I met most of my friends:
    1. physical closeness, i.e. neighbours, shared flats etc.
    2. Working together.
    3. Mutual friends.
    All three ways are open to you in your new environment, so I am sure new friends will come your way pretty soon.

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    1. What a great experience, getting together with that old friend -- the few times I've managed to do that (and only via FB -- I haven't been as good as you at keeping up correspondence through the years), it's astounding what does persist of the original friendship. Although, to be fair, I don't think I would ever bother if that original friendship didn't have something authentic, something with heft.
      I can picture the gathering at your birthday, and honestly, I think the lake setting, the poor weather would make for a fabulous short film -- you are very fortunate, but it's not just that -- you've been nurturing these friendships diligently for all these years, and what a reward you have for it! These friendships are sure to be a strong foundation for a happy retirement.

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  12. Moving far away from my previous home, I wondered if my introvert self would manage. There were times it was hard, but also more than enough rewards for the effort, and I think I have a wider association of friends, at different stages of friendship than before, without sacrificing my introvert-self to my social-self. The path has been meandering, with occasional falls, but it is a path I am happy to have followed. Sometimes the mental push looms large, almost overwhelming, but I hope your path is mostly sweet.

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    1. It's been very impressive watching you move through these years of early widowhood, moving, so many transitions. You already seem very much at home in your new community, your life rich with friends and activities, although it's been clear how much effort this has been, at times. I hope that I will adapt as well. . .

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  13. I'm a regular reader, an infrequent commenter, but want you to know that yours is a blog that I never want to miss. Each time I read a post, I feel like I'm catching up with a friend. Your writing voice is honest and I respect that you share both the highs and the lows, the good and the bad. I also appreciate your thoughtfulness and the intelligence of your posts. Perhaps, too, I identify with your experiences. A year ago, we relocated to Washington DC for my husband's job, which meant that I left my position as a lecturer/supervisor at the University. We moved nearer (but still not in the same city) to our daughter, but away from a city we had lived in for almost 30 years. It has been a challenging transition, and while I have met quite a few interesting women, have acquired a new hobby, and have discovered a wonderful volunteer opportunity, I still feel the effort of having to continually reach out. It's not always easy or comfortable. In fact for an introvert it can be downright hard. All this to say that I admire your resilience, envy you your nearby family, and eagerly read about your adventures. Its so nice to read the words of someone I feel is a "kindred spirit", and to read the comments of so many intelligent women. So, as I continue to try and find my place, I relish the opportunity to come here and hear the voice of someone i feel could be a friend if only she lived closer.
    Laurie

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    1. So many kind words, Laurie, and thank you so much for the positive feedback to my writing.
      That's a tough move to make, especially if you were still enjoying your teaching -- those positions are harder and harder to come by these days, obviously, although it does sound as if you're compensating happily with volunteer work -- and a new hobby, which I'm curious about.
      Having done this a few times in previous moves, I know there can be too big a gap, at first, between meeting "quite a few interesting women" and being able to count on them as part of our lives. I also know, though, and I'm going to try to remember this, that the transformation does eventually happen. Meanwhile, stop in here for coffee and a chat anytime. . . ;-)

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    2. To both "Mater" and Laurie - Another regular reader - but first time comment - so enjoy your thoughtful posts, "Mater" - must get over silly reluctance to join in what is so often a rich conversation. I too am recently (somewhat unexpectedly) retired and my husband and I are in the initial stages of planning next steps - move likely in the future. Weighing multiple options. No absolutely clear path in sight. Have found wisdom, warnings plus a delightful variety of collegial voices here. Much appreciated. Now to Laurie - I live in DC. Capitol Hill. Want to meet for coffee? Dorothy

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    3. Dorothy - Sorry it's take me so long to respond. I just came back to read the rest of the responses and found your reply. I would love to get together for coffee. We're in Kalorama. I'm happy to come in your direction.
      Laurie

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    4. I love this! Laurie and Dorothy, if your getting-together should work out, I'd love to hear more about it.

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    5. What fun! Laurie - I will be in the DuPont Circle area on Wed July 20 - any chance we could meet-up mid-afternoon? Between 3 - 5 pm? And how about a reply to dorothyajeffress(at)gmail.com. Thank you for your gracious reply.

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  14. I haven't moved anywhere lately, but am encountering a shift in friendship now because one friend (whom I've considered a good friend for the past 7 years) is unhappy with me for some reason, but when I tried to set up a coffee date to talk it through, she said she was too busy and maybe we could do it in August. Since she is a central figure in a small group of women friends, I am feeling sad, but I guess I need to wait and see what unfolds. I have some other wonderful friends to spend time with, but I am an introvert and do have a hard time making the first move (always fearing rejection, I guess). I have a wonderful husband and 3 grown children, but otherwise a very tiny family - no living siblings, no cousins. So I am a bit envious of people who have large extended families - they provide a natural social group and sense of belonging it seems. One close friend who recently went through a divorce said recently that she was reflecting that people come into and out of our lives sometimes, and it's just the natural way of things. Which comforts and scares me at the same time, lol. - Murphy

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    1. Murphy, this is also part of what I'm talking about when I speak of Transitions and/in Friendship. Those shifts can be tough; they can be baffling. I've experienced them a few times, and sometimes have been able to work through them, sometimes have decided to let the friendship slip away. Talking about this with a new, very good friend over lunch recently, I wondered about maintaining certain friendships through this move, and she said that for her, "It has to be easy." She didn't mean that she wouldn't work at a friendship that mattered (we're keeping up our friendship despite it now involving either a long ferry ride or the expense of a seaplane ticket), but that if there was always a lopsidedness or too often an awkwardness, perhaps it wasn't meant to be. Perhaps it suited once, but no longer does -- I think your divorced friend might be right, and I think you are too -- that such a recognition can be comforting and scary. But I think it might be better than the way we sometimes fetishize friendships, trying to hold onto them at all costs. I do hope that you're able to work through the difficulties in yours, especially since it involves a larger group than just the two of you, but I'm glad you have that other perspective alongside. . . Take care. . .

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    2. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful reply, Frances! - Murphy

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    3. Sorry for butting into this conversation but I wanted to say that I found it comforting to know that other people go through this too. I have experienced the same and struggled with whether to just let the friendship go. In the end, I did and moved on to make new friendships. Life goes on.
      Jane

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    4. Jane, you're not "butting in" but joining in, and you're very, very welcome in this space. Both myself and, I'm quite sure, Murphy, appreciate knowing that someone else has gone through a similar experience and moved on from it. Thank you!

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    5. Thank you. I appreciate your kind words. Also, thank you for this blog.
      Jane

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    6. Thank you. I appreciate your kind words. Also, thank you for this blog.
      Jane

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  15. As you may recall (IG name: GonorthMary), we moved to PG, in "northern BC to be closer to our only daughter, hoping and planning to be hands on grandparents. We've been dealt a curve ball that will delay these new roles, perhaps forever. For her privacy's sake, that's all that can be shared online.
    At one time, too engrossed with a demanding careeer, an intentional choice was made to limit social weekends. I was too tired and needed to recharge my batteries. My husband is an introvert, relying on me to plan our social calendar. As a result, close friendships are very few, although I have countless acquaintances being well known in my former community.
    When we moved, I knew I would have to reach out to make friendships. I joined a community choir and a curling league. One has proven more friendly than the other. I know how to network and reach out but have no gray expectation of forming a close intimate friendship at this stage in my life. If it happens, I will feel very blessed. Recently, a very good friend spent a couple of days at my home after attending a local conference. We picked up where we left off with no hurdles. Mind you, we have known each other for 32 years and have shared all of life's joys and challenges.
    What I can say, Frances, it takes a conscious effort and an open attitude to develop these connections. Give yourself permission to move on if it does not feel right. What have you got to lose? That's my self talk whenever I entered a new arena this past year.

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    1. So much that I recognise here, Mary, and I think my expectations are similar. I'm comfortable enough joining new groups, although I think I'm going to take a while to settle in and look around. I think we're both very lucky in having firm foundations (family, friends elsewhere, decent self-esteem, many activities we enjoy) that mean we needn't rush desperately into new friendships but can let these develop organically and trust to process and past experience that they will as long as we make that effort and keep that open attitude. Thanks for sharing your experience here.

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  16. Love this post Frances. I've always been a "friends" person... I say that because I'm the only one in my family who is. My mum and sisters do not have "girlfriends" like I do. Moving here from down east, I had no family nearby( except a sister an hour away), and no friends from home once my roommate moved to Toronto, so I have always made my friends through work. Moving schools over the years would mean that some buddies would drop off my radar, and some stay. But there was always a new batch to be made at my new school. That's what was difficult about retirement for me. Especially as Stu's medical issues which cropped up so soon after my retirement (like... the next day!) made all of our cherished travel plans so unrealistic. And I wasn't prepared for what felt like utter abandonment by my friends. Even the ones who were already retired. Where were all the invitations to join the groups they were part of? How come no one called and said come over even if just for tea? And without the casual daily banter with colleagues and students... it was pretty bleak for a few months. Until I decided that if get-togethers were to be organized, I would do it myself. Especially with my friends who were still working. As the department head for many of them, I'd always filled the role of party planner...so why stop just because I was retired. So I eventually did that, organized a night out for a bunch of the girls from my old school. And they were so happy that I had done so. Because they were busy with work and families, and as it turns out, hesitant to barge in on my privacy since they knew Stu was ill etc etc. I'm so glad that I took that step and didn't just sit at home trying not to dwell on my hurt feelings.
    Blogging has been wonderful for establishing on-line connections. My blog is the reason I re-established contact with an old friend, a very close friend at one time, with whom I had become estranged. She read my blog, commented, and my reply said that I would love to see her and was at the same phone number as I always had been. Now we see each other about once a month...and we're reprising the 40th birthday shopping trip we made 20 years ago... with a trip to New York this fall. So on-line connections have lead to real life connections being enhanced. And I love that they two can go so well together!

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    1. So interesting you would say this, Sue, as it reminds me of a similar experience when we made our second major move (significant distance each time, although still within BC). I was doing all the right things to make friends, staying busy, many social engagements, but nothing was "catching" into the more sustained, deeper friendship I was hoping for -- and then someone told me that I seemed so busy with kids and work and social life that they assumed I didn't need/want more. Whoa! I was stunned, honestly, hadn't imagined seeing myself as being as independent as this person saw me, but I quickly adjusted the signals and within months had begun some new friendships that ended up lasting for years. I'm going to keep that lesson -- and yours, which seems parallel to me -- in mind. . . .
      And I love that interaction you point to between on-line and IRL, with the old-school plugged into new technologies -- well, I guess I love anything that's going to lead to a shopping trip in New York! How cool is that?!

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  17. Commenting in transit to my former city to see a friend of 40+ years who is dealing with the news of a serious health threat to her husband of 35 years. All I can think of is the old camp song sung as a round, "Make new friends but keep the old/One is silver and the other gold."

    And I agree with Murphy, some people come in and out of our lives, and not always in alignment with our wishes.

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  18. After reading the comments closely I am back to say, if there is one thing I would do differently in the past 5 years, when we moved to a new city where I knew almost no one, is to trust my instincts. Some people want to begin the oath to friendship because they are truly welcoming and open. A very few others because they have exhausted the patience and goodwill of the ones they had. You will see this, and know the difference, fairly soon.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend, and I do think of that line (I didn't know it as a camp song, but someone wrote it on one of the pages of the "autograph book" I had in grade school)
      And I think your caution is a very useful one -- thanks for the advice. I must admit I feel as if I've got a full enough slate of caretaking already ;-)

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  19. Sorry, typo: that is "path" to friendship.

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  20. Oh what did I do with myself before I started reading your blog. Forget books now, this is my favourite read. I have to pause and say I can't add anything more than what 'Laurie' posted in her thoughtful response. Just ditto all round.

    As far as linked past experiences and current ones ? My parents lived in the house I moved to when I was 18 months old and were there for over 45 years. Saying I don't relocate well would be an understatement. I think on some naive level I thought I might even live nearby my childhood home. After marrying my nomadic husband and moving 9 times in the first 5 years of our marriage, my story of adjustment took on a much different scope than I could have predicted.
    Having left drag marks down every driveway we pulled away from en route to our next 'adventure' in those early years, I now sit quite comfortably in my roll as an easy adaptor. After all, it's been 42 years. The longest we ( he ) has lived anywhere is our current location and I can sense the restlessness starting up. Alas.
    I say to anyone that it takes 2 years to really feel a 'new , new' . It takes time. And yes there are friendship casualties along the way. Some rebound with the new distance , perspective, some don't ( for the moment ). And some will never be the same again. That's life.
    I'll end with a final comment about a friend from my passed who has resurfaced after 42 years. She sat in front of me in high school in a far away city because of the first letters of our maiden names categorized everyone in a school population of 2300 kids. We overlapped socially as does happen in high school , but nothing long term and lasting. I coincidently came across picture of her in my husbands photo album in our early months of dating from his group partying escapades at university. She became a friend of his too during those formative years .
    She came to our wedding in 1975, and has recently resurfaced in our geographic area after having lived in Santa Barbara for the last 25 plus years.
    She and I treasure the past and acknowledge the uniqueness of having known each others parents and social culture growing up. And she knew my husband before I did, and that says something . We're really enjoying a renewed relationship, and who could have predicted this !

    I am in such awe of you embracing this next chapter of your life with gusto and enthusiasm. And even if there are dark and uncertain times, you have taken the very brave step of orchestrating this change . I have no doubt , you ( and we ) will learn volumes about how to navigate our way forward by watching and listening to your honest perspective.

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    1. More kind words -- thank you!
      I don't love the leaving, but in the big moves we've made before, I've always ended up loving the new possibilities. Already, although there will always be elements of island life I will miss, we're already energised by the city. You've been a big encouragement, and a surprising gift of continuity just at the perfect time. . . Your story about the friend who resurfaced in your life after so many years mirrors the reality that for some of us friendships will have different rhythms than the long steady trajectory we sometimes might hope for, or that we get sold in movies, books, commercial advertising. This is part of what I'm wanting to think about, and it has something to do with what Murphy says, although it's a different path. . . But something about the way we change, and our friends do, and we move in and out of circumstances and compatability and even capability. . . .I'll just park that idea for now, I think, because babble is setting in, but I might come back to it in a future post and see what others think. . .

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  21. Do we have different ideas of what a good friend is ? One of my sisters is a true extrovert & has masses of friends with whom she has lots of fun but they seldom sit & talk in any depth . That isn't my way . I try to be open to new friendships & agree that in retirement you should aim to 'turn strangers into acquaintances & acquaintances into friends ' . Most of our new friends are fellow dog walkers & they come from all age groups & lifestyles . It's very companionable walking along with dogs & discussing their foibles , so no shortage of conversation , even for shy people ( some of the nicest people are shy at first ) .Then gradually invitations come along to other things . So if you've always liked dogs , I recommend it - make it a rescue dog too , they're the best
    Wendy in York

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    1. Do you mean do you and I have different ideas of what a good friend is, Wendy, or all of us generally? I suspect I'm more like you in wanting/needing (just) a few quite close friends that I can be quite open with. But I do find that as long as I can manage it with my Social Introvert's need for lots of down time, I also like to have a wider network of interesting, compatible, engaged and engaging acquaintances-with-friend-potential just to keep my horizons wide. . . The dog-walking is a brilliant way to make potential friends while doing something you enjoy for its own sake -- win-win! Like the French classes that Mme L-B is attending. . . And so great that your husband can enjoy this with you, although I must say that I want girlfriends of my own as well -- again, a whole other potential topic.

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    2. Sorry about the confusion . What I meant was some people want lots of casual friends whilst others like me prefer a smaller group of close friends . Most of mine were found in the workplace , either paid or voluntary work . I agree a group of girlfriends is important & it's equally important for our men to have their groups of men friends . We don't always dog walk together , depends on what else is going on & often I'm enjoying male company on a walk - that could be another discussion - can we have opposite sex friends ?
      Wendy

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    3. That would be a great topic, Wendy, and it would probably be one that would be considerably inflected by our age. Making a note...

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  22. I love all your "long" posts,this is one of them,as well as so many interesting comments.
    I'm having a tough week,so I'm little late:
    I admire all of you for the art of dealing with,often,very turbulent life,with a lot of moving and changing places.
    Similar to Hostess,I live all my life in the town where I was born. As an only child,with small but close family I love,I spend a great deal of my life with my friends. Some of them are from my childhood and youth,girls and boys,now with their partners,too.
    During the years,friendship changes,people changes,our interest changes.....but real friends are here to stay.
    Through work and some other activities, some acquaintances became very good friends.
    I have met a friend about 15 years ago,in a different city,who became one of my best friends-the sort where we could talk and go for a drink,when we are together,but also kind of friend where we are(and were!) here to help,whatever happend.
    I am very social person,with friends and acquaintances,but I also need to be alone for a while,every day.
    I am also a very private person who can share some things only with you here :-),(and the whole world!)!
    I feel that you are on the good path,doing different things involving people,could lead to friendships,or aquaintances who also could be funny to spend time with.
    Dottoressa

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    1. I'm so sorry you're having a tough week, Dottoressa. I hope there's an end in sight. . .
      Isn't it interesting, what similarities and differences we all have, across the many miles that separate us? I can also be very social but must absolutely have time to myself, every day. What you say here -- "I am also a very private person who can share some things only with you here" -- I don't know if I'm misunderstanding because of syntax, your English as your second (or fifth?!) language, or if you're saying what I think you are, that oddly, we can say private things here, in public, that we couldn't necessarily say to those in our immediate circles. I find that quite often, that I trust "the blog" with confessions or sharings that I might not tell people I see everyday. Thank you for this!

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    2. Yes, Madame la Professeur,that's exactly what I have meant! Isn't it interesting?
      D

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    3. Yes! and such a surprising gift....xo

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  23. Very insightful discussion going on here! I find I fall in the part of the curve of having a very small group of long- lasting friends, and numerous acquaintances that I volunteer with. I confess to being one of those who had to make a concerted effort to see friends, or even just relax, as I was very involved in a stressful job that I loved. Now that I'm retired, I find myself more and more filling the role of initiator of get togethers. I find myself caring less if people can't make it, taken refusal as not always a personal thing. I'm practicing for moving in a few months, and hopefully finding some like-minded souls. Of course, I relish online communities such as you've created here.

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    1. You're lucky to have that continuity of very good friends, that core that is such a strong foundation in life, and that seems to survive even our busy, busy years. Like you, I'm letting go of concerns about whether or not invitations are accepted or not, or reciprocity in who iniitiates get-togethers. I guess we begin to develop a longer view? I'm sure you'll do well in your move and that there will be those like-minded souls waiting for you. And if not, you'll still have that core group of good friends.. Lucky you. And us as well, right?

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  24. I've been reading your blog a long time, and while I think we might be friends in the real world...I find your constant angst wearying. I know, I don't have to read, but to most people, I think your life is pretty darn good. Your problems are minor compared to what a lot of people face and I don't know if you're massively insecure or completely unaware of yourself. I'm sure this comes off as bitchy, but it's just that you have so much and most people would love to have your "problems". I gather you suffer from low grade depression and I am sorry about that -- but maybe you need to talk to a professional. I really do wish you all the best.

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    1. Oh, I don't think we would be. . .

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    2. meh - always wary of anonymous comments.
      Especially if they don't end politely with - this is Familiar Commenter
      We have the opportunity to bare our soul in comments and ... I'll just leave that sadness there. Beauty (or not) is in the eye of the beholder!

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    3. I'm eternally amazed by how commenters with something contentious to say always seem to do it under the veil of anonymity.

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    4. Yeah, look, we all are entitled to our opinions but we need to own them. Don't say things you aren't willing to stand behind. And I disagree. I particularly enjoy the thoughtfulness and willingness to inhabit all the emotions here.

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    5. I agree with LPC here and admire the honest and thoughtful way both the ups and downs of life, which we all experience, are explored here. No hiding behind peaches and cream curtains or anonymity.

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    6. Very late to this "party" but I couldn't disagree more with anon. I'm a few months behind the same transition you are going through and find you to be refreshingly honest and forthright about the anxiety, depression, happiness, and confusion, all rolled into one. Thank you, for giving voice to this strange time of life. I feel guilty sometimes that I am so lucky to have choices but still am so torn. It's human emotions. When it gets hard for me, I often think, well mater moved off AN ISLAND. The only difference is that I am facing moving 4 hours away from kids and that just won't do!

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    7. I am late to this too. First, anonymity reveals a blatant lack of accountability. Second, I wonder if this person has read the posts in which you grappled with a terrifying diagnosis for a child, or when you lost a parent and an in-law?

      Sometimes someone does think you (or I or anyone else) has her head up her butt. (I like it when the blog world isn't only a compliment harvester.) But I wish a specific, logical discussion of the difference, not an ad hominem attack.

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    8. Loretta/Mrs. Pom: Thanks for the kind words -- We are so lucky in our choices, aren't we, and yet, being human, we still sometimes hurt. . . Good luck with your move, and I do hope you're budgeting for travel back to the kids regularly -- that part is much tougher than moving away from the kids!

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    9. And thank you as well, Kathleen. I think if we all had as much support as I'm finding here, fewer of us would have to write unhappy anonymous notes. . .

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  25. You impress the dickens out of me! You raised your kids, went back to school, became a professor, remained physically active by doing challenging things such as running and yoga, write beautifully and intimately, adore your husband, kids, and grands, and take all of us along with you as you move through life-changing experiences. Thank you!

    I am single without children, have friends that I'm close to since 5th grade and numerous friends I've gathered along the way through work, church, etc. Two sisters who live within blocks of me are a huge blessing in my life. I'm LDS (Mormon) so that pretty much gives me a built-in network of friends, as well. I retired from my job over 3 years ago and am still working but not as intensely as before (I'm mid-50's). Change and transition is hard. It's taken me three years to really move past my former work life (which was fabulous) and embrace what I'm doing now (which I enjoy).

    Thank you for sharing your life with us. There are times that you articulate exactly what I've been feeling and that is a comfort. While I don't have bouts with anxiety or feeling low, your writing gives me a window into how that feels. And your description of establishing a daily pattern that helps you work through difficult periods has been enormously helpful.

    Can't wait to hear about your move in September!

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    1. Kim, thanks so much for your kind words. Again, I marvel at how much commonality we can find here, despite our differences. So many of us find the transition from a full, busy work life challenging -- I know my retirement was the right decision for me, and I'm happy I took it earlier than I'd planned to, but I still miss aspects of it very much. You're fortunate (at least, I assume that from what you've written) in having part-time work you enjoy to fill the gap.
      I'm grateful to you for putting my anxiety/feeling low into context -- I do worry that these "bouts," as you aptly call them, might seem to dominate occasionally, but I can't think how I'd blog with any integrity if I chose to keep them behind the curtain.
      And oh yes, you'll hear about September's move!

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  26. It's taken me a long time to comment here on your blog....I love the conversations that evolve between your readers. I look forward to their opinions and wise counsel...here and elsewhere. I think you voice so many concerns held by a lot of women at a certain stage of life. I also live on a small island south of where you used
    to live. I think that it's a lot easier to make real friends in a place where most of us
    chose to move to.

    Ali



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    1. You might have taken a long time to comment, Ali, but you picked a perfect day to join the conversation. I'm imagining now what island you might be on -- that small island life gets into our souls, doesn't it (or was it already there, which is why we're drawn there?). Thanks for your words here -- have a lovely weekend.

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  27. Still picking my jaw off the floor at Anon's comment of 7 July...
    So what I was planning to say while I was waiting for the chance to sit down and comment is all the more relevant - and it's that your blog is one of the joyful things that has happened to me in a tough year of parental loss. One of the things I look forward to, one of the never quite knowing what I'm going to find but always being welcomed, gently provoked out of my mental ruts, given new visual, intellectual, sartorial and emotional vistas. Life is made up of a series of minor-in-the-grand-scheme problems, but it doesn't mean that they're not real or challenging in their way. We all have our share of serious illness, family distress and so on, but we can't survive them by talking about them and sharing them non-stop, which is why the 'lesser' issues such as does this colour really suit me become important and are what we also talk about with friends. In my family we are having to adopt this approach at the moment to survive the catastrophic mess of Brexit. The daily things are coming back into the picture and yes I am finding it comforting to have a bit of a whinge about the fact that I have a bulgy vein on one leg when my legs were the one bit of me I felt really happy with.

    Your meditation on making new friends at this stage of life is so relevant to me, as I will be moving in a year's time from a (small) cosmopolitan capital city with 4 universities to the small village I grew up in, where most women have spent all their lives and have not been to university. I have no remaining friends there. The people I know are my parents' generation, now in their late 80s. The friendship pool will not be what I've been accustomed to all my adult life - I'm not sure at the moment whether there will be one. But on the other hand, I don't need a wide group of friends or to be constantly seeing friends for the friendships to be sustained. My close friends are nearly all from university
    days, and all scattered across Europe. I don't have Facebook, so contact is by conscious crafting of email. I met up with one friend from the north of Scotland recently whom I hadn't seen since we graduated 34years ago. We had kept in touch by Christmas card and I loved her self-deprecating Christmas round robin letters, which convinced me that she was very much still on my wavelength! We picked up so much where we left off that we're now organising a reunion of our graduating French class the year we all turn 60. It strikes me that the friendships I've kept are those where people haven't grown up too much - don't have that hard, shiny surface of complete adult mastery of their perfect world. I need my friends to be able to laugh at themselves, and to be honest about the imperfections of life.

    So there's a backhanded compliment for you!









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    1. After posting this I walked to one of Edinburgh's village "quartiers" along the walkway/cycle path. The first people I passed were 2 young mothers pushing buggies, and as I passed I heard "...a friend, well more of an acquaintance really, because a friend would never..." Next came 2 women in their 40s: "...or just a cup of tea, because she's one of those friends you can just pick up with again..." Meditations on friendship everywhere!

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    2. Wonderful! Thanks for coming back to share this.
      And your early comment is so encouraging and so generous! I think you touch on something really important here -- underlying much of the sadness that surfaces here from time to time is the loss of my mother, three years ago, but really, she'd been leaving for most of the years of this blog's nine-year existence -- which began in the (admittedly long) wake of my father's death after many years with cancer. I'm continually surprised at how these losses have such an impact, normal and predictable as the inevitable death of our parents has to be. . . so, yes, the minor whinges. . . (so sorry about that bulgy vein ;-)

      I loved the simpler friendships I was able to have on our little island and in a small town we lived in many years ago -- yes, you'll probably want to supplement those by maintaining your more urban friendships, but I'm betting you'll thrive in your new place. Looking forward to hearing about it... (oh, and envious you've not given over emails for FB!)

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  28. Re yesterday's comment at 2:14 - your blog posts can only be a tiny sliver of a view into your life, so making a diagnosis on this basis is pretty nervy! Having thought about writing a blog myself I realize how hard it is for me to put my thoughts out for scrutiny and possible misinterpretation. You were very kind in your response when I got it wrong in my comment about your new living space. Showed me how some things are put out here and other things are held back so we the readers do not have the whole picture at all. I enjoy your musings and hope you will not curtail the angst in your life just because of a few judgemental comments. As others have noted it's sharing the hard parts that is so helpful.

    It's so interesting to have a circle of women bloggers of a certain age who have retired and who share some of my concerns. Are you my real friends? Does it matter if we share a sliver of our lives and care about each other? I hope it counts, because they say lonely people die sooner :)

    I'm off to my last day at work, feeling both excited and sad. Retirement here I come!

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    1. Thanks for recognising this, Northmoon. It's always a worry, or at least, a vulnerability I'm aware of -- we bloggers risk readers having the illusion that they know us, but there's so much that gets left out, not because we're trying to deceive but for a variety of reasons (most obviously -- there's not time to write it all! ;-)
      I know exactly those mixed feelings at the last day of work, and I'm even hesitating to say "Congratulations" because I found myself shrinking away from that well-meant wish last year. Shall I wish you Bon Voyage instead as you embark on a new journey in life?

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  29. I was disappointed by the critical comment by Anon. Evidently, we all have aspects of our lives that are less positive than others. Sometimes we share them, sometimes we don't. When worry is part of our lives (it often appears in mine), sometimes others can reassure and sometimes (in a nice way) others can tell us
    to "get on with it". Certainly, no online supporter should suggest professional help.
    Your honest to life posts strike a chord with other women bloggers.

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    1. Thanks Mme. You know? I think that professional help is often called for, generally very valuable, in treating depression or anxiety. But I also think that too often, we want to keep the depression or anxiety out of our everyday lives, and we try to consign it, even "outsource" dealing with it. So often, just being able to air it, to share it, to balance our sadness or anxiety with the rest of our lives is enough. . .

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  30. I'm late to this, for reasons you understand.....but what a good and meaty post! I may have to come back to read it again.
    My family calls me the Queen of Cancellation. There's nothing I like more than a big, last minute cancellation. It is anti-social. It is perverse. It is not nice at all, but there it is. Another social introvert here who has had to settle into a dozen homes in three countries and several provinces. I like the way our friendship came about and developed, so that we 'knew' each other a little before meeting in Nanaimo. That sort of lead-up isn't always possible, so I guess you'll have to be ready for the chance encounter, the kindred spirit at the book store or yoga class......
    You may be an introvert but you are a curious one and that curiosity is very attractive. People will be drawn to you and you will, undoubtedly reach back when you are ready or when those reaching out have that certain something that could result in a friendship. It's certainly easiest to make friends when we have young children - so much to talk about, so much time spent waiting at the school doors - but this time of life can be all about you and the friendships won't depend on the needs/interests of others.

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    1. Ha, trust a family to come up with a nickname like that! Does your family recognise your propensity to cancel arises out of a parallel tendency to Take On Too Much?!
      Thank you for the encouragement about friendship-making (not only here, but in actually becoming friends with me!). Interestingly, I'm feeling so much better about the possibilities now that the move has become a reality (first step, anyway). And I love your closing thought here, something my friend Sandy (see above) and I talked about over lunch recently, having only recently become friends, as you and I have.

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  31. Hello Frances

    Extrovert here. Making friends easily and having the same ones, some since age 11, has been the scene for me. But, before I add that making friends for extroverts can be difficult at times, TOO...

    First, I digress, to say that this is your blog, your right to post whatever you want when you want. If some find inspiration to reply and add to the conversation, it fosters human connection, which certainly seems to be part of your point in blogging? And we all know that that connection is sadly missing in so many arenas these days. Conversation with anyone can be a joy. (Of course, my sister says I could talk to a rock and get something out of it, so who am I to say that). Surely, though, the point is: you write, we feel free to add an afirmative nod, a fulsome reply or just quietly feel moved or delighted by something we read here and it connects us; enriching all the way round.

    Writing as anon did calls to mind one of my Irish aunts favorite sayings, "consider the source". No need whatsoever of anons seeming high-handed tone here. You graciously replied where I would have ignored. Thank you for creating a community with your talents, warmth and heart and soul often on display. It is, thankfully, a place that has no room for "mean- girl-high-school" nonsense. Don't like it?,find it irritating?,agitates you? Don't read. Simple.

    Moving to a new setting as I have, even with my extrovert self created some challenges in making new friends in London. I had a few already here, but new ones have been made with the small group that sit near us at football (soccer). Some of those were invited to our wedding. We also walk with them,go out for drinks and dinner.

    Another friend has been made at a screen-printing class and yet another couple through chance meetings where I struck up a conversation.

    I adore London, am in love with English ways and admire my countrymen and woman of all stripes. But, my experience has been (she said dearly hoping not to start an international incident!!!!) that I need to do all the heavy lifting to ignite the friendship and to make most of the moves to connect. Always thanked for knitting those times and events together,of course,but what I experience as the English natural reserve has made it more challening to get the ball rolling. Once I do, mostly it has been good.

    When I go home every five months, I spend at least one evening alone, two if possible, with each of my five girlfriends, individually. Then once out with sweethearts of those girls and my sweetheart,too. Same with my sister and brother-in-law.

    It is such a different experience when it is "just girls; one that I simply could not be without. These are deep,sustaining relationships that have gone on for years and years. No exaggeration to say I would be lost without them.

    Keeping friendships going all over the world, but especially the US, is done with frequent notes on hand made cards with my travel photos on them. My mother recently gifted me with a very stylish pen and said it was a great gift for me because I am the only one who uses such an antique device!

    Have heart. Ignore the naysayers and armchair psychologists. Have a cocktail with your sweetheart and enjoy the weekend.


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    1. Extroverts welcome here too! ;-)
      Thank you for the supportive words -- much appreciated. And thanks for sharing your experience in making friends as an ex-pat. I've heard something like this before about the challenges of making social inroads in various cultures -- some are so much better than others. I think you're so smart, though, to keep making that effort. I know that many in your situation might tend to rely on fellow ex-pats for friends, but I imagine you'll have a richer experience there if you have both.
      I'm also nodding at your insistence on making time for one-on-one visits with individual girlfriends. I love the group convos, but there is no substitute, imo, for the listening and sharing that can happen between just two. The room for silence, for hearing moods. . .
      And the snail mail! I have one or two good friends who do this, and I continue to resolve to do better myself. . . I lost the beautiful pen my in-laws gave me for one of my degrees, and I've been meaning to get another. Might try to join you . . . ;-)
      Happy weekend!

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  32. Bravo! A in London - your comment A+++! Full of juicy gems of wit and wisdom. 😉 All those "you go girl" hurrahs to you! Dorothy

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  33. I was amazed by anon's comments. Some people are too quick to judge others.

    Although we still live in the same place (at least for now), we are faced with finding new friends, which is tough for two introverts. Many friends have retired and moved away, and we have found little in common with the parents of our children's friends now that all the young ones are grown. For some reason the dwindling group of friends bothers me more than my husband so it appears up to me to begin the search. If we finally decide to retire in the next year or two, we may move, which complicates things. I have taken many of your readers' thoughts to heart and know all will be well.

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    1. Thanks Lynn L. -- I think you touch on a phenomenon that might be fairly common, the transition that can happen in friendships in these "certain" years even if we don't move. I watched this with both my parents and Pater's -- as you say, friends move away, the friendships we've made through our children no longer quite fit without those (adult) kids around, and the move away from the workplace can change our own focus so that it's harder to mesh with friends from Before.
      And the other thing you cite that I suspect is common to others (at least, it certainly is to me) is that "the dwindling group of friends bothers me more than my husband." Mine will admit that he's benefited enormously through our married life from the efforts I've made to keep our social lives satisfying. But he's generally content to be much more happenstance about making much effort himself. . . .This division of social labour in relationships might be another topic worth exploring

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  34. All I can add to the comments of your other friends here re Anon's bizarre remarks is first to second them, and second to repeat what I think I have already said here, viz - there are scores of perfect life blogs out there. When it comes down to it they are all eye candy and while I enjoy a virtual browse through a beautiful garden, elegant house, stylish wardrobe and all the rest of it, too much of the sugary stuff and I begin to feel a bit sick. You temper the sweetness with the I hesitate to say sour but it fits with the analogy. It is that honesty which makes your blog real and it is that which makes your many readers feel a connection with you. Please don't stop.

    Re friendships - Lynn above has summarised very well what I am currently finding. Not so long ago I had lots of friends - some more coffee chums than pals of the bosom - but as the children have grown the contacts have indeed dwindled. I too feel a need to find new friends even though I have lived here 30 years. Not because I dislike the group of friend that I do have - on the contrary, they are splendid women - but because I feel that there are more out there that I'd like to meet. And I don't want to find my field of vision narrowing.

    And while I'm at it - where do you stand on sentences beginning with prepositions? Goes against the grain with me but can sound effective - new development in written English or completely verboten?

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    1. I think that what you and Lynn have experienced factored into my impulse to move. While I registered a falling-off in friendships during my last few working years as being due to my work (too busy, not even time to nurture social life) I think another element might have been that those friendships were changing anyway. If I'd had more time for them, I might still have found that they were less and less of a fit on both sides. Food for thought.

      As for grammar. . . keep in mind that my scholarship, such as it is, is properly in Canadian literature rather than in grammar, although it's probably fair to expect I'd have a good handle on the latter. . . But. . .
      Do you mean sentences beginning with conjunctions, or sentences ending with prepositions? I've never heard of an objection to beginning with a preposition (Up on the hill, the trees were wind-sculpted.) Generally, I think all of those prescriptive rules should yield to a certain amount of common sense and some deference to the ear. . . Clarity should be the gauge, imho.

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    2. Conjunctions, I meant conjunctions. (I think) Who knows what they're called. I mean sentences beginning with But or And or Because.

      And what the heck because when I reread my opening sentence I realised that I'd mangled all the clauses so thoroughly that it could be read that I was seconding Anon's comments, not seconding those of your supporters. Absolutely not the case. I'm with the majority, mean girl sniping has no place in the adult world.

      Anyway. I'm abandoning the use of English for a bit as I am making a mess of it, right, left, and centre.

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    3. I knew exactly what you meant -- you were seconding my friends' comments, not Anon's, and I thank you for your support.
      As for beginning sentences with conjunctions, despite what we may have been taught in grade school, all the best writers do so, although you'll likely find they do so judiciously.
      However you begin your sentences, your sense of humour is clearly intact -- and much appreciated 'round these parts ;-)

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  35. My shock at the casual cruelty of Anon's comments blew my original response out the window. Blogs allow such easy access to a fabricated personality: upbeat, accomplished, perfect. I have often wondered how the friends and family of those bloggers feels about events they witnessed/shared whitewashed beyond recognition. You insist on being emotionally honest, which is why this blog is read and reread.

    As for making friends in retirement, I plan to take a page from my 92 year old mother. She signed up for things that interested her. When she began to feel a little resentment from the wives of fellow dancers in her dance group (as a widow, someone always had to lend a husband for her to dance with),she moved on to a hiking group. When the vigorous leader of her group died and the new leader walked too slowly for her liking, she added a second, faster-paced hiking group to her list. (Not wanting to lose contact with the friends she'd made in the first, but wanting to keep up her exercise.) She also signed up for things she felt needed her: soup kitchens, homeless shelters...she just booked in her shifts and discovered another level of the city she'd retired to, and a connection to a spectrum of ages.

    I can't see that you will have a problem. You are so alive, intellectually and emotionally, to the world around you, who wouldn't find a chat with you fascinating?

    P.S. to Ceri. Beginning with a conjunction can pack a lot of punch when used deliberately (as a rhetorical fragment). To paraphrase a favourite song lyric: "I still believe in love. But not with you". (Believe the actual words are "Just not with you") so you can see what a kicker those fragments can deliver.


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    1. Thank you for so many kind words, Isabelle, and for offering us the example of your mother. Mine was so very shy and ever so introverted, and yet longed for friendships -- we're so different, but her example shadows me. It's refreshing to know that other possibilities exist, and it also nudges me toward perhaps more "signing-up" than I might naturally be wont to, just so that I veer more toward that path than to my mom's.
      adding my P.S. to Ceri to yours: I know Isabelle "IRL" and she's worked as a professional editor. If she says you can begin with a conjunction, go for it! ;-)

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  36. I read this post a few days ago, when you first wrote it, but didn't feel equipped to comment at that time. It has been a busy place since! I am not an introvert, but not hugely extrovert either. I became quite good at makimg friends as a child, because we moved all the time. I changed school eight or nine times in my 12 years of schooling, and that was really tough. I have moved less frequently as an adult, but the hardest move was when I moved to live with my boyfriend (now husband). I knew no-one, and was also wrestling with how to become a live-in partner, never having been one before. I knew, however, that leaning exclusively on my partner for my social life was not a good idea, and joined a gym, as well as a couple of evening classes. Nevertheless I was very lonely, mainly because I made no friends at work, where my only collegue was a woman much older than me, with whom I had almost nothing in common. I remember a few painful afternoons when I invited potential friends to meet for coffee, or come to an exhibition with me, but these friendships never flourished. Things eventually improved when I changed job, and the path of friendships ran smooth again, as there were many more people in that workplace, and natural groups and friendships flourished. Essentially makimg friends is just about reaching out, but without becoming emotionally flayed in the process. Keeping and nurturing meaningful friendships is about revealing more, within a more developed relationship, and finding that it resonates with the other person, and of course that doesn't happen with every friend, and it would be a bit exhausting if it did. Maturity helps. I am really looking forward to reading about the friendships you make in this new phase X

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    1. I hope you don't mind that I've used an excerpt from this in my latest post -- very effectively articulated. These sentences resonate . . .

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  37. Isabelle and Mater, thank you so much for this. I feel that a careful use of a conjunction can be very effective but had it drummed into me by Miss A (MA (Oxon)) that beginning a sentence so is just not acceptable. But when Prof B (PhD (UCLA)) reviewed my work 40 years later she'd add them in. That said, English was not her mother tongue . Was wondering whether it is a transatlantic difference or just a case of the language moving on.

    Thank you both for your input

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  38. Friendship...as I get older I value it more and more but I don't generally worry about it. I have been reconnecting with very old friends (great fun) and keeping up with current pals. I tend to make chums in all different areas of my life and few of them overlap - only one has actually met all the different groups of friends over the years - and that suits me fine. When I was young I was very shy indeed but forced myself not to be, helped by copying the tactics of more confident mates (hard to find different words for friends...) and found that worked brilliantly. Now I can't really remember what being shy felt like. I bet you look back in a year or so and smile to remember your anxieties about new starts. The best thing about making new connections? Knowing you will never, ever again have to get on the dinner party circuit. Oh.My.God....how I hated those days. Good luck, Mater! Get chattin'!

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    1. I was shy enough at times when I was young, and I can be even now in some circumstances, but I've got a very solid toolkit of social skills developed through parenting and grad school and teaching and serving on committees, etc. But I'm enough of an introvert that exercising those social skills is wearing. You don't need to wish me luck but if you could send me a magic source of energy . . . .

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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