I've been writing a great deal lately (perhaps writing too much) about my move to Denver. Most of that writing has centered on the logistics of the move, the house hunting process and various other financial perspectives. All of that is worth sharing-there is no doubt that this move (although no longer a downsize per se) has impacted my financial life to the good. However, it's also affected my life in many non financial ways.
My original intent was to write about the changing dynamics that are also part of such a move, only I got sidetracked just a bit. You see, on Sunday we are moving, and last Sunday we were packing. Missing church for two Sundays in a row is not the norm for me, so I was feeling a little "antsy". A brief perusal of local churches revealed a church nearby that said that they had a church service at noon, and off I went yesterday (thinking of course of a half an hour midday service) to the church down the road.
As often happens, simple plans turn into more, and in this case to more for me for the long run. After the first part of the service the presiding priest came down from the altar-and proceeded to lead a spirited, interesting discussion that involved all the participants (including myself) and covered our opinions and personal experiences. After our enjoyable hour of discussion and sharing, she returned to the second half of the communion service.
One of the problems with moving to a new place is meeting new people and finding a new "fit". Most of us want to it to happen right now, when the truth is it takes time. Meeting new people (in retirement or anytime) is not the sole problem of singles. Even the best marriages require outside interests and activities. I've moved closer to my family and in some ways in the short term that has satisfied my need for "companionship". Our togetherness, along with mutual house activity have kept me busy. Still, I need my own space, outside interests and places to go.
Once I arrived in Denver, I did find a both a church and an immediate volunteer activity. Still, there were many things missing. I was used to meeting people and quilting a couple times a month, I had a bible study, I took a class and I had a woman's group that also met twice a month. I volunteered at least a day a week. It has taken some time, but I now have three activity/meeting outlets that are becoming a regular part of my life. Each of these came to me in a different way.
Once in Colorado, I immediately joined the very large quilting guild, paying my annual membership. While I enjoyed some of the meetings, I am not comfortable in large crowds (especially as a new person) and did not go every month. Under every cloud there is a silver lining, and in this case the very large group had very small subgroups-and I found a daytime quilting party that meets for the day once a month.
The group I mentioned above will, I expect, satisfy at least part of what I have been missing (although in a moment of-whatever I realized that both groups meet on Wednesday, so that one week I will have to miss the church group). I'm used to a group that involved spirited "discussion" of issues in the truest sense (within the context of a reading or topic)
Finally, the church I have been attending is one I feel very attached to-but I came in the summer when most of the social options available within the church were on hiatus. Fortunately I did find a book group that is involving, and hope to find a dinner group in the fall with another church (yes, I may be alternating two churches)
Last but not least, I'm taking an art class a semester. My first class is learning how to make metal jewelry, and with all the safety equipment, I'm not at all sure how "social" it will be. I continue to look for an exercise class that is to my liking, as well as been a mixed age group and I am sure I will find that. So, life goes on.
This is not my first hoedown when it comes to moving, to say the least. I knew that it would take time. I also knew that if I was going to move this was the time, as it becomes more and more difficult to integrate and meet new people with age(in my experience).
If I were to advise another single (or couple) on making connections when I moved to a new area, I would say this: It will take time and you may feel like the odd man out in the beginning. My first quilt guild meeting, all the new folks were asked to raise their hand and there was much clapping. But other than a few brief conversations, I left on time and went out the door alone. On the other hand, but the third or fourth meeting I was talking to most of the group, and had met someone who introduced me to my new sewing group. Meanwhile, I knew that I was in a group of fairly like minded people.
Which leads me to what may seem the obvious-follow what you love and/or what you are interested in. Like minded people hang out together. I used to joke that I had church friends and water aerobic friends and quilting friends and travel friends. That's simplistic, and many friends cross over. The truth, simple as it is, is that like minded people hang together. If you are the odd man (or woman) out when you first join, at least you are involved in something you like. For me, those in town interests happen to be fiber arts, books and movies, water exercise, and church related activities. For you, those interests may be different.
And always, always be willing to step outside the box. Every single one of the groups above have a different mix of ages, ethnicity, incomes, and relationship status. I've been the only single in an eleven person dinner group. I am generally by far the oldest person in my college art classes, and my daytime quilting group members range from young moms to retirees. That's the way I roll, retired or not.
And with that, I am off to have a one day yard sale, spend one day moving boxes all day long and spend a third day supervising the movement of furniture. After this weekend I may need a nap and drink, but at least they will be in my own abode. Finally!