I don’t regret leaving my childhood home at almost eighteen, but that decision changed the rhythm of my life in ways that still echo today. Had I stayed in California, I might never have visited Europe. My four years in the Army and twenty-six years teaching for the Department of Defense Schools allowed me to travel to places I could never have otherwise afforded to see.
All that travel opened my eyes to other ways of being in the world, other ways of enjoying life, and I’m a better person for having sampled other cultures. But the ride couldn’t last forever; my husband and I retired to Tacoma, Washington in 2014. Now we’re nearer to our families, but much further from our friends.
Many of my friends are still in Germany; others are scattered across the U.S., Canada, Spain, and who knows where. And while social media provides us a way to stay in touch, it’s not the same as spending time in person. I can’t just take my laptop with me to a bar, restaurant or concert and fire up Skype. While I love hearing from far-flung friends and seeing photos of their travels and celebrations, I really miss sharing experiences with them.
And it’s harder to make new friends at this age, especially with people who’ve lived in one place for a long time—their dance cards are full. I realize that for the past thirty years I never had to work very hard at making friends. Because we U.S. ex-pats clustered together in tight-knit communities, my work friends became my after-work friends. Now I’m a tiny guppy swimming in the Puget Sound, looking for like-minded people to spend time with. It’s a slow process, dear reader. Being somewhat shy in person, it’s hard for me to ask a relative stranger on a “date,” but that’s what I’ll have to do until I find my tribe. Wish me luck.