Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Friend in Need

I was inspired today by LoonySuse at Remote Appeal. I read her post about two of her friends who are moving and it got me thinking about making friends when you are a transplant. I have a lot of friends in my native Massachusetts. I went to high school and college there. I worked at several jobs there. I moved from Massachusetts to Florida when I was 36. I had to make new friends.

Then I moved from Florida to California when I was 40. And I had to start all over again.

Let me tell you a little bit about making friends when you are "the new kid on the block." I'll start with Florida.

Making friends in FL came fairly easy to us. We really clicked with our realtor and his wife -- she is my age and is originally from RI; we even had a friend in common (I was friendly in college with someone she was friends with in high school). Then came meeting folks in the neighborhood. Since the majority of our neighbors were also transplants, they were quick to come around and introduce themselves and to invite us to hang out. Our neighborhood was incredibly social, it turns out. Friday nights were "Happy Hour" nights, usually held in someone's driveway, involving beer and wine and bug spray when it got dark. It was fun and it was nice to be included. Technically it got to be too much after a while but that's another story.

Then, we made friends at work. My husband liked his co-workers and we would see one or two of them socially. I took a job right away that was a bad fit (nice co-workers, but ridiculous boss and lame job responsibilities) so I moved on from that about 9 months after our move. But, the next job was a home run. Great hours, good work and the most fun people. My friends from that job ranged in age (at the time) from 25 - 46. I enjoyed going to work every day. When my husband had to travel for his job, I'd go out for a beer after work with my co-workers. Fun stuff all around.

I miss my FL friends. But, thanks to texting, email and especially Facebook, I still can count many of them as friends. We have seen them a few times in the years that we have been in CA since we have family to visit in FL and we make the effort to see our friends there too.

I have been in CA for 5 years now. Know how many friends I have here? Two. Okay, three, if you count the couple (I'm counting them as one) that we are friendly with -- the husband works with my husband and they are transplants here from Massachusetts. We go out with them to dinner once every few months. We are going to their daughter's graduation party next month. That sort of thing. Yeah, other than a couple that my husband technically knew before moving here, I have two people I can count  as friends. They live across the street.

And, I really count one more as a friend than the other. She is an awesome 60-something Mom to grown children and hanging out with her is like hanging out with my MA and FL friends who are my age. We go to lunch and we go shopping and we laugh a lot. She's not originally from CA. She has moved a lot for her husband's job. So, we are kindred in that sense. I think that helps.

I've come to the conclusion that people who are FROM CA just don't want to make new friends. Well, they'll befriend you if you have kids. And if your kids go to school together. So, I get jipped in that department. Defeated before I even start.

And, since my husband is senior management at his office here, the people he sees every day work FOR him. He doesn't want to hang out after work with people who report to him. And they feel likewise. None of them ever offered to take us out or show us around when we moved here.

I know it's harder to make friends when you are older. And when you don't work (that's me) and when you don't have kids. But it seems crazy that after living here for 5 years (and in this particular house/neighborhood) for 4 years that we really don't have friends. No one has a spare key to our house in case of an emergency. If the alarm goes off and the alarm company can't reach my husband or me, there is no one else on the list for them to call.

We are used to it, I guess. But it does bum me out sometimes. And I hope so much that it doesn't put a strain on our marriage. We really enjoy hanging out with each other, and we know a bunch of other couples that could NEVER spend as much time together, just alone as spouses, as we do. Kudos to us for actually liking each other. But, like I said, I do worry that he'll get tired of me someday. ;)

So, as I seem to be long on chatter today, I'll go on. At the end of March, I started taking workout classes at The Bar Method in the next town over. I've become friendly with a couple of women that go to the same classes as I do. I am so eager to make friends with them, I worry that I come off as too needy. Our "friendship" doesn't extend outside the studio, but I'm hoping one day it will. I'm hoping I get the nerve up to say, "hey, wanna go to lunch after class?" one of these days. Funny thing is, one of the women is new to CA, having moved here from NY (and East Coaster - yay!!). You'd think, given my situation of the past 5 years, that I'd be inviting her to do things on a regular basis. I just don't want to pounce. I kinda want to take it slow. It's kinda like dating, I guess. Just feeling her out to see if she might be interested in going to lunch someday. Ha. Well, I'm hopeful. I mean, the last gym I belonged to here, well, I was the youngest member. All my "friends" there were in there 70s. At least now I see and chat with women my own age.

I'll keep you posted if I ever do ask my "friend" on that lunch date . . . .