When you’ve moved to a new town, what’s the best way you’ve found to connect with people? I’m thankful that there has been a handful of folks that we knew when we moved to Cleveland- it’s been great to be invited over for meals, go out to record shops we would have never known about and have people over for game nights. It’s made the transition here a lot easier (you know who you are- thank you friends!). I’ve moved a few other times in my life- in high school, to college, to Grand Rapids after college when I still had the crazy idea I’d go to law school and worked in a law firm to see if I’d like it. Can you picture me sitting behind a desk? I can barely sit still let alone sit behind a desk for 8 hours.
When you’re out of school it’s a lot tougher to meet new people. In high school or college you’re thrown into a social stew of people who are at least somewhat like minded and have something in common. i.e.- “I see you are also a fan of the MSU Spartans since you chose to attend this particular university, I see you also like punk music since you are wearing safety pins in your ears and have an operation ivy patch on your bag, I see you have also found your way to this random keg party that you weren’t actually invited to but heard music playing from the street and made your way inside and are now holding a red cup in your hand as well…”
When you’re an adult you have to work much harder at connecting with people and finding the places where you could develop friendships. For some people it’s a bar where they can cheer for a baseball match of their favorite team with other fans, a soccer club where they can get exercise and meet other futbol enthusiasts, a knitting group, church or coffeehouse. So far the place that feels most like this for me is the Phoenix Coffeehouse- slightly grungy beatnik atmosphere, people studying quietly, and good coffee brewing. The problem is, people usually come to coffeeshops to meet other friends, silently study or write or chill out by themselves. Not a great place to make friends unless you consider befriending the baristas, and they’re paid to talk to people while they serve coffee.
We’ve been attending a beautiful methodist church and trying to connect with people there- however, ironically, church isn’t the easiest place to connect with people.
Folks are busy, and the time that they do have to linger in the parlor for a cup of bad coffee and a few sparse doughnut holes is spent connecting with people they already know. I’ve often felt like a wallflower standing around with a plastered smile on my face trying to look friendly when I’m really thinking “should it be this hard to meet people?”
I know we’ll continue to meet and connect with people the longer we live here and I have to remember that getting into a routine where I can see the same people in the same places will help. But in the mean time, it’s been lonely. When I see people that look like other friends in my life I start to imagine that maybe they could be as cool as the friends that are no longer near me and that they too would be people I could laugh with, share childcare and have over to play settlers of catan into the wee hours of the night, regretting it the next morning when our son wakes up ridiculously early- because that is the Murphy’s law of parenting; the later you stay up, the earlier your child will wake up.
For now I’ll be hitting up the library story hours, scouting for potential cool mom friends, smiling warmly at people at church and trying to strike up conversations, and going to yoga class to meet other people who are down with downward dog.