By Guest Blogger Karen Hill
When my husband took a new job in an Oregon town, a 45-minute drive from where we used to live, I was looking forward to being able to make new friends while keeping the “old”. I had a few really close girlfriends who I knew I would continue to talk with and see, but I yearned for more. How great would this be — a whole new field of friends!Turns out I was not prepared for how hard it was going to be for my new friends and me to find each other. Now, I am hardly shy. But I had not been new in a neighborhood for some 18 years. I had often reached out those who moved onto our block. I had friends to walk with and talk on the sidewalk with. Neighbors would attend our parties and watch our home when we went traveling. I felt like I belonged.
But being the newbie was new for me. I found myself at a loss for how to strike up a conversation when others seemed to be sizing me up from afar. Do I go over and just say, “Hi” put out my hand and hope they reach out back? I seemed paralyzed to take action, even when I learned that two of my new neighbors were newly widowed, like I had been 10 years ago. Oh, I am remarried to a wonderful man, but I know I could relate to their feelings and pain.
Still, my gumption was gone. My spirit squashed. My determination dashed.
What was wrong with me? And why weren’t those who had taken root there reaching out to my husband and me — new seedlings as it were, just hoping for a source of “welcome” nourishment? There has been no plate of cookies, no invite for a glass of wine on a summer night, and no wave and a grin as the new-to-town drove by.
I am wondering where the hospitality of old has gone. Are we so entrenched in social media that we don’t need to be social with those around us? Or do I just need to get my boldness on?
If you have any tips for my sudden shyness, please chime in!
Do I put together a “Want-to-get-to-know-you backyard party?”
Should I harvest some of our new tomatoes and bring over a few to the few women I have seen?
Should I try to go out walking the same time as my neighbor and see if we can strike up a conversation?
Or do I spread my wings and try a Pilates class to meet like-minded women?
I would appreciate your advice for a novice newbie!