“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” – Jane Howard
In Toledo we always had a passel of friends and never had a lack of people to spend time with. I never remember a time where I had to make an effort to find a friend. At work both Mark and I were quick to establish the kind of relationships with co-workers where you would go out for drinks or meet up on the weekend for something. From the moment we moved into an apartment in a great, close-knit neighborhood we had people to hang out with. It was seriously like living at college with better apartments and beer – there were other couples our age and we sat on our decks almost every summer night sipping cocktails and telling stories.
When we bought a house nearby the camaraderie continued. We met more and more people; we had parties, went to parties, joined others for drinks on front porches, and always had someone to call to join in our fun. Just taking Mac for a walk ended up in stopping every few houses for a conversation or to accept an invite to something. We partied with our mailman. There were retirees and new families, couples, singles and everything in between. Everyone watched out for everyone else, and there was always something to do.
In Toledo I was also blessed to be part of the most amazing group of women I have ever known. A friend I had known for a couple of years had decided to gather a bunch of women together for a book club. What she assembled 8 years ago is still going strong today and most of the original 10 women (minus the 2 of us who moved away) still get together on a monthly basis to discuss a book and, more importantly, discuss their lives. Together we witnessed new houses and new jobs. We watched relationships progress from the first date to marriage. Several of us bloomed with pregnancy and we all watched as those babies grew. The women ranged in age by 20 years, some single, some married; some with kids others without. Some of us worked full time, some stayed at home with the kids. Liberal and conservative, wine drinkers and beer drinkers – on paper it shouldn’t have worked, but it worked beautifully. I didn’t realize until I moved how much those monthly meetings meant to me. I was a night to just be myself – not employee or wife or daughter or mom. I just got to be Kate.
When we moved to Cleveland in December of 2007 I was fairly confident that I would meet new people pretty quickly. One of those couples from the apartment building in Toledo was here raising their family and I was recruited to my new job by someone I’ve known for over a decade, thus instantly establishing some roots. But outside of those to friendships I’ve found it really, really hard to connect with anyone here. Maybe it’s because when we made previous moves we were kid-free and had more time to meet and mingle. Maybe it’s because we will never be able to re-create the magic that was found in the Old West End. Perhaps I just don’t know how to make friends as an adult. Whatever it is I just feel so ungrounded here.
We’ve both made some good friends through work, but everyone is so scattered across the region it’s hard to get together. Last year while I was training for the 3-Day I tried reaching out to others training in my community but really found no one reaching back. I’ve found some great local blogs to follow which have helped me feel more connected to our new city. But while reading and chatting online can be fantastic, it’s just not the same as a glass (or 3) of wine with the girls and endless hours of talk. I think I need some new strategies to find my tribe here, because boy do I ever miss it.
So tell me – how did you find your tribe?