For my entire adult life, up until these last few years, I went out at least once a week. Usually two or three times a week. No matter where I've lived, I've always had "the bar" that I go to. I enjoyed being out, seeing people, making new friends, and having noise in the background. Even when I was happily coupled, I still made it a priority. Because of this, I made a bunch of really interesting friends all across the country. I always loved my fellow barflies. People come and go, change, move, magically appear or disappear -- a townie bar is always the same no matter where it's at, and I've always really loved the experience. And then it just stopped.
There were a few life circumstances that led up to it, but mostly, I got heartburn and my back problems got worse and I got older and had less energy. The last thing in the entire world that I wanted was a beer. I enjoyed waking up in the morning without a headache or the stench of the previous evening floating around me. I got really into my hobby and spent my evenings working on projects instead of going out. Little by little, my barfly friends vanished. I find myself wondering about them from time to time, and I'm always happy when I run into one -- but that's rare.
Last weekend, I went out in town with one of the few remaining Real Life friends I have here in Farmsville. We had a grand old time, and I was happy to see her and her husband. While we were at the bar, I saw a girl I've known since childhood. She was a few years younger than me in school. I went over to say hello, and we hugged and exchanged news about our families. And then she asked me if I live here? Yes, I've lived here for almost 10 years.
OK, it's 9 years. Right? I moved here at the very end of 2007, so it's more like 9 years. Yes. But still. As the words came out of my mouth, and then I watched the surprise come over the girl's face, I realized whoa, I've lived here longer than I've lived anywhere else. As a chronic mover -- like all the way across the country mover -- this is interesting. I've found a home. This is good! But I knew that the girl lived here. I've known that all along. I know a lot of people who live here. But they don't know I'm here.
It's totally self-imposed. I don't participate in Farmsville events. I'm not on Facebook. I'm not a member of any social groups or structures, such as a church. Since I'm single, I don't have any "other side of the family" obligations or outings. I live in the country and work from home. 'Nuf said. I am my own island. And so far? That's been perfectly fine. Seriously. I needed some down time from society to do some mental health work and figure out some of my dark sh*t and grow into the Adult Blondie that is sitting here typing today. I just needed a break. Plain and simple. At a resting state, I enjoy being a hermit, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Introvert? Check!
Earlier in my life, I sought out new ways to make friends on a regular basis. I signed up for classes at community centers or colleges or museums to try out new things. I was always excited when I signed up for the classes -- hoping I'd find whatever it was that my soul was seeking. Then I was always deeply disappointed when the class or the people didn't fill that hole in my heart. I was always looking outside of myself for comfort, and it backfired time and time again. At the classes, in the groups, at the bar. I spent a lot of time being painfully disappointed. It sucked.
So without really being aware of it, I just called it quits. I quit looking for interesting men to talk to or possibly date. I quit trying to dance the delicate dance of Adult Female Friendship. I completely bailed on meeting fascinating strangers at the local water holes. I focused on work, my online friendships, and my miniatures. I dove headfirst into my miniature guild and busted through a bunch of mini builds and felt very happy and content. I still do.
The other day, my father invited me to lunch during the work week.
What is this? What is this new-fangled fancy thing called a lunch date?! Wait a second! People leave their houses during the afternoons?! On purpose?! And you would like to do this with me???
- The best lunches EVER with my girlfriends at the Giant Publishing Company in Chicago.
- Driving through the Portland Wendy's with Cousin Kira on a random summer afternoon and then talking for hours about something ridiculous and loving it.
- Meeting up my besties after class in Iowa City for coffee and socialization at Micky's.
- Having "a table" to go to in high school in the lunch room right here in Farmsville.
When did I stop having lunch with other people? Or maybe a better question -- when did I stop caring about not having lunch with other people?
Part of this is maturity. As we get older, we don't need as many people in our lives. For my married/kiddo friends, they don't have time for a lot of things because they're growing humans and working on their marriages and GOOD LORD kids' activities these days! I'm listening to hold music with a lot of my momma friends, genuinely hoping that I'll have solid relationships with them again once their children are grown. But it should probably be a bit healthier on my side of the call. I should be living my own life and be projecting my own kind of hold music because I'm doing things I care about and creating a valued and important life despite being solo.
This might sound like I'm beating myself up for being a hermit, but I'm not. There's true value in it. I have time for self-reflection and mindfulness. I get to explore nooks and crannies of my brain that most people simply do not have time to explore. I like being cerebral, and I embrace my weirdness. Adult Blondie has to be her own best advocate.
You're fine, Blondie, you really are. But you could kick it up a notch. Slow and easy wins the race.
At this point in my journey, I truly feel most things are chance, luck, or serendipity. You meet the right friend, partner, boss, job, wife, neighbor just because. You're in the right place at the right time. I used to think that I was in control of everything and so therefore, all of my failures were because of me. Over time, I've figured out it's not me. It just is -- whatever event I'm trying to make happen, it either will or won't happen. For example, my parents who were raised in different parts of the country in different lifestyles and who went to different colleges just happened to meet at a really small townie bar one night in a city that neither of them should have been in -- no family there, didn't go to college there, etc. It just happened. POOF. Ah, there you are. And now they've been married for 40-ish years. They couldn't have planned that. Nope. You can't plan that sh*t. And neither can I.
I can give chance the opportunity to happen.
Right now? For the last few years? No chance. I've had my head buried in my studies and my hobby and my work and my family. It's OK. It happens. Not a failure. Nothing wrong with it. I've been fine. For reals, I've been fine and very content, and I've settled into a very comfortable mental-health zone that doesn't involve crying on the regular. It's good stuff.
I'd like to have lunch with someone. Maybe a couple of someones. I'd like to choke on my food as I laugh SO HARD at something one of those someones said. I remember that. I loved it. It was good, too.
No, I don't need to go stand in a grocery store aisle each day and wait to bump into people. No, I don't need to hit up the local bar three nights a week. No, I don't need to make myself really uncomfortable by forcing myself to do things I don't want to do just because I feel like I should.
But I can sign up for a new kind of class that might really interest me and bring me some joy. I can ask that girl from the bar for her phone number the next time I see her just in case she is also looking for someone to have lunch with once in a while. I can find reasons to go out and be in the world on a semi-regular basis instead of spending so much time by myself.
I can get out more.
In fact, I'm looking forward to it.