Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Making New Friends

I'm sitting here in my new house in King of Prussia, feeling a little sad that I don't have any local friends.  It's been about 2 months since moving here and I am having a bit of trouble "hooking up" as it were.  I came across this photo that I took of one of the good friends that I had to leave behind in Covington and thought that I might cheer myself up with a blog post about how we became friends. 

When I was a kid it was easy to make friends.  You had lots of great "pools" available for you to meet and pick your friends from.  The neighborhood, school, sports, family, church, summer camps, dance class, etc.  It was pretty easy to have a good group of kids to hang out with.  When I think back to my childhood I believe that one of the reasons it was such a happy one was because I had TONS of friends.  Growing up?  Same places to meet friends.  Add in jobs & parties.
Once I became an adult, married Charles and jobs took us to different cities, I had friends that I had to leave.  I didn't realized how hard that would be.  And ultimately how much I needed to have friends in my life.  I love having the friend who can just walk into your house anytime she wants to visit or knows that a half sweet tea/lemonade from Chick Fil A will make my day.  I am just a happier human when I can call up a bud and meet for lunch or a "quick" trip to Michael's.  I am a really happy human when I have regular friends who meet for Girl's Night Outs and weekends away!  Let me tell you, it is harder to make friends as an adult than it was as a kid.  I mean, using a pick up line like, "Do you wanna come over and play Barbies?" just won't work today.  Even if I replaced 'Barbies' with, lets say, 'Bocce Ball' I can't see me walking up to a what looks like a nice lady, laying down my line and then her saying, "Sure."  The closest I got to actually using a "line" to try to find a friend was this nice girl who I worked with at Michael's-Dawn.  I was doing some work in her office soon after we both started working there and I said (being new to the area), "Do you know anywhere to join a raquetball league or anyone who plays raquetball?"  Thankfully, she was looking for a friend too, and replied, "I've never played, but I would love to learn."  Thus our friendship was born and my new Tampa-friend network began. 

Again we had to pull up our stakes and headed out of Tampa.  I miss those guys and as much as I love keeping in touch on FaceBook, it just isn't the same as being in the same town.  So, I was faced with making friends in a VERY small town in Pennsylvania.  This was a town where everyone knew something about just about everyone and I was really worried about fitting in or finding friends to take to this odd "flatlander".  I think I got lucky this time, because Charles lived in the area for about 9 months before I moved and being an outgoing sort of fellow, he made friends.  Friends that he was excited to introduce me to.  One of them was Linda Bovaird.  Linda....

Charles moved to Mansfield from Tampa.  He lived alone with his Chihuahua.  He took his Chihuahua all around town.  He would even take her into the local bars.  The normal men's fashion around Mansfield is camo, Carhart, jeans and plaid.  Charles' normal fashion was khakis, oxford button-ups and his ever-present Bluetooth.  To say that he stood out would be an understatement.  To also say that his wife's gender was in question would also be true.  (Did I mention that he refers to Kiwi's dog-carrying tote as her "Diva Bag")  So when he told all of his new friends that his wife was moving up soon,  a number of people were kind-of waiting to see what I was like...

One day Charles sent me some really beautiful barn star Christmas tree ornaments that he had picked up from Bearly Enough (a local shop that sells gifts, country decor, etc.).  He told me that I was going to love the owners Heather and Linda.  A mother and daughter duo who he would spend a good deal of time chatting with.  I believe it was the last part of the first week that I had officially moved north, that Charles insisted that we go meet Heather and Linda.  He was sure that I would love Heather, a woman who was close to my age, was super sweet, had a nice family and was a teacher.  We walked into their shop, with our dogs in tow, and met the ladies.  It couldn't have been more than 5 minutes into the introduction that Linda starts telling funny stories about folks around town and she pulls me aside to show me her new, very folksy looking, stitched sayings that she was making for the shop.  There were different sayings-cute, inspirational, classic, but she holds up one to me that she is sure I will love.  It reads, "For my next trick I'll need a volunteer and a condom."  I look at her, she looks at me, I am sure for that split second we were both sizing each other up and then we both just started laughing.  Ta-da!  New friend!  We talked that day for almost an hour about everything, about nothing.  It was fun.  She was fun.  As we were leaving, she walked to the car with us and she confided in me, "You know when you were in Florida and as Charles was visiting and describing you to us, well...um...well...I just have to tell you that...YOU'RE NORMAL!!  Thank goodness you are normal!"  I stood for a few moments wondering what she meant and then, "Charles and his dog.  You and your dog.  The stuff he says about some of the stuff you do.  I was a little worried-but you are just fine.  Normal."  I smiled and realized that I liked my new friend.  The mother of the lady who is actually my age.  A little weird, but it worked.

Over our years in our little "hometown" we quickly lost our "flatlander" status and became "honorary ridgerunners" and our circle of friends grew.  But the times that I spent with Linda were priceless.  She has a very bawdy sense of humor.  Visiting her shop was like walking onto the set of the Steel Magnolias beauty parlor-complete with all the neighborhood "news".  Hearing her call out her nickname for me when I walked into the store.  ("Shitty Pants" - I guess from my love of hearing and telling goofy stories about people pooping themselves.  Oddly, working in retail you see A LOT of that!)  Learning from her some truly northern ways of doing things helped me navigate my new lifestyle.  But most of all I value our talks.  Always filled with laughter, the repeat stories that we'd forgotten that we'd shared and our true love of life. 

So, I've been working and wondering on the KoP friend-meeting strategy.  But mostly I've been feeling homesick, just missing the company of my friends.