On Moving and Landing Right Side Up
Summer is rapidly approaching and for folks who have moving on their minds, so is the process itself. Most of those who will be pulling up stakes are young adults under the age of 34. They are followed by a fairly steady number of families who move at this time of year, hoping to settle the kids into new homes and communities before the next school year starts. There are, however, two other recognized spikes in the moving demographic. The first is associated with recent retirees who are looking for smaller homes in areas with moderate weather, while the second is associated with those 85 and older who have reached the point where they need the support services provided by assisted living facilities.
All that being said, moves come in endless varieties and are made for various reasons. Those made when you have a baby in arms and a toddler pulling at your skirts are especially difficult. They are matched only by the wrenching sever that takes you from the home in which you've raised your family to smaller quarters. The Silver Fox and I are of the generation that was frequently moved by corporations, so we are no strangers to the moving process, and it's fair to say we've been around the block a time or two more than most. Physically, the corporate moves were easy and required no effort our part, save for diagramming the furniture placement desired in the new home. We unlocked the doors at both ends and the movers and cleaning crews did all the work that was needed to make a home a house and a house a home. We've also had difficult moves, and because I know many of you could tell horror stories of your own, I won't bore you with mine, other than to say that at least one of mine had the makings of a great Steven King novel. No matter the kind of move, or the age at which it was made, we all share one thing in common. It's that Kafkaesque moment when you wake up in your new home and realize that while you are the same person who crawled into bed last night, everything around you has changed. It's like boating on a river without an oar.
Do you remember that old Scout camp song, "Make new friends..."? While it becomes a priority once you are in your new home, the process, at least for some of you, will be more difficult than you think. Those of you with school age children will have no problems making acquaintances, some of whom will become lifelong friends. Chances are those of you settling in retirement communities will have no problems, especially if the community itself is new and social circles have not yet been cemented. As you get older, however, this making of friends can become more difficult. Folks, for many reasons, don't reach out the way they used to. The Silver Fox and I were raised in a Midwest community that welcomed newcomers with open arms. Only funerals would bring more callers, casseroles and cakes to your door. I was truly nonplussed on our first move East when no one came to the door to welcome us to the neighborhood. We dressed well, and while our family was more racially diverse than some, the children were well-behaved, mannerly and as bright as new copper pennies. I have what has often been described as an "inferior to whom" complex, so rather than wring my hands I decided, for the first time, to "put myself out there."
Somewhere, in that gray area that separates pushy from passive, is the territory that belongs to those seeking engagement. If you wish to engage, outreach must start with you. If you live on a farm or on the top of a hill you'll have limited opportunities, but there is the grange and church groups that will provide friendship as well as salvation. If you are a flatlander the possibilities expand. You can join groups that share your interests, but go easy and don't come on like a tank battalion. Wait a bit, chum the waters and start with a cup of tea or a lunch following a meeting. It's important to remember that there are other folks looking for friendship, too. If the neighbors have been distant, wait until Christmas time and have an open house or Christmas coffee for them. These occasions are hard to refuse and you'll be surprised at how many of them will actually arrive on your doorstep. At the very least, they will know who you are and you'll be more comfortable asking them for assistance should an emergency arise.
This business of settling in and forming new friendships takes a bit of time, but to truly have a sense of being home, it is absolutely necessary. Sure, there will be folks who rebuff your efforts, but we are all big girls with feelings that already have several layers of scar tissue protecting them. Risk it! When you find yourself in new surroundings be the instigator, put yourself out there. The rewards in terms of new friends and new experiences can't be measured. I think you will find this video by Sevin Phillips, an expert in his field, interesting.
Making New Friends as an Adult
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