I wanted to update you on my situation as far as making connections on my little island in suburbia. It is a very tiresome subject, but this post has been brewing in my mind for a couple days now, and it's my blog so I can whine if I want to.
Soon after I wrote my this, I did a little bit of research and found a Meetup group for moms and young kids. I became a member. I get a month free, and after that I have to pay dues, something like $5 or $10 for the year. People post different activities that you can go to. There's open play at a gymnastics place once a month, there are trips to petting zoos, and whatnot. Tim said to me when I joined, "You're paying for friends." "Yup," I said. "I guess that's the way it's done in North Carolina," he said. "Guess so." [This isn't actually the first time I've paid for friends. I've done StrollerStrides and Gymboree, and those are far more expensive.] So far that has gone.. OK. Most of the Meetups are either jewelry parties which I won't go to, or things that take place on Tuesday or Thursday, when I have to take Delaney to school. I did go to the gymnastics thing last month, and I'll go again tomorrow. The kids love it. I find it a little awkward for myself. I'm uncomfortable around a bunch of people I don't know, and I have the strange feeling I crashed their party. But I'll go anyway.
Every Friday morning, there is a terrific little story time at the New Bern library, and I did meet another mom there who seems friendly and outgoing. That is good, because as a shy person, it is nearly impossible to make friends with other shy people! She is also a member of the aforementioned Meetup group, and she is going to be at the gymnastics place tomorrow. I will have to stalk her. I have a toy cellphone that she gave to Annalise after she fell down and cried during the puppet show.
Meanwhile, I take the girls outside often, hoping to strike up a conversation with someone walking by. Or when Tim and I are walking around the neighborhood to cool down after our run, we're both on the lookout. We hardly ever see a soul. Usually, but not always, the driver of a passing car will wave. The other day, we walked past someone's house as she was pulling out of her driveway, and we waved. She didn't even look at us. "Well, hi, neighbor," I said. Tim said he thinks it's a generational thing. His parents knew almost everybody in their little suburban neighborhood. Tim theorized it's because back in the day, people were outside interacting with one another all the time. Now they're inside on the Internet or watching TV, and their kids are playing video games.
Another time, the girls were playing on the driveway after we'd returned from a run, and I saw a woman my age pushing a running stroller by my house. I had never seen her before, and I waved and smiled and said, "Hi." She waved back and said, "How are you?" "Good, how are you?" And she continued on, and I thought, please stop and talk to me! Would it kill you to introduce yourself? I have no diseases and I don't bite! Please, don't leave me alone on this island!
On the preschool front, it's going no better. I met up with another mom for coffee one morning. Her kid isn't in Delaney's class, but we met at the fall festival. But it felt like a first date. We said, "I'll call you," and neither one of us really meant it. I think we each found the other a bit dull.
On the Marine family front, I'm faring only little better. I have old friends who have a 7-year-old daughter, and we get together from time to time. They'd be my first choice for Thanksgiving dinner, but guess where they're going for Thanksgiving? Cincinnati. There was another Marine family we had over for pizza one night, and I had a playdate a couple weeks later with the wife and one of her daughters. Recently, she emailed me asking if I'd like to get together this week at her house, and I replied soon after that I'd love to. Then .. nothing. It's been six days. Tim said I should call her, and I said, "Why should I have to follow up her invitation?" If you email someone, why don't you check your email to see if they reply? Especially if you have an iPhone and you take your email everywhere. Then again, I have no idea what her life is like, and perhaps she really doesn't have a second to spare. Not like me, with obviously too much time.
Sometimes I wonder if I am subconsciously keeping people at a distance because a part of me prefers it this way. I hold back a little bit when I could make more effort. I am sensitive and feel easily slighted by others. I have this (unfortunate) tendency to want to sit back and wait for the world come to me. I kind of like sitting out front watching the girls play, seeing their curiosity and happiness over simple things, feeling the sun on my face, and not having to work at making a good impression on someone else. It's so much effort.
That leads me to another theory about why I'm in my predicament. I come from a long line of people who stick to their clan and rarely become close to anyone else. I remember a long time ago, my mom did become close friends with a woman who lived across the street from us. She explained to me even then that it was because Sue needed a friend. Mom didn't. She preferred being around people with whom she shared a long history. We had aunts and uncles coming through the door all the time, and our kitchen was filled with laughter and rehashing of old stories. No need to impress the person you know once decided to take a bath with her pet turtle and ended up getting sick. So that's where I came from. Then, in Massachusetts, I got to enjoy being part of a clan once again. And now I am clan-less and inept at forming bonds with other people.
At times, I realize how very blessed I am to live on my little island with the three people who are dearest to me, with everything I need, and most of what I want. I am grateful, I really am. And then sometimes, I am terribly lonely, bored and frustrated.
I will continue to look for ways to cope with life on my suburban island, which is only 10 minutes away from anything, but a world away from anything and anybody familiar.