Living in one place for a long time allows a person to get comfortable with all sorts of things: the fastest way to get from point A to point B; the “best” television stations for weather forecasts; the television channel line-up; radio stations that fits one’s musical tastes; where to find NPR on the radio; the best restaurants; which grocery stores have the best vegetables; where to find the best live theatre; locations of drivers license renewal offices; the best places to get the car washed; the list seems endless. Time-in-place leads to familiarity and comfort and, perhaps, habit and laziness.
Moving to a new community, far away from the familiar, emphasizes the degree to which one has become familiar with all the little things one has learned from years and years of getting comfortable with one’s surroundings. I write from experience, having made a number of moves during my lifetime. But most of those moves were long ago and many of the adjustments I had to make have washed from my memory. This move, the one I’ve just made, is reviving many of the memories. And the ones long since washed away are being replaced by new ones that take their place on a vaguely familiar road.
My wife and I know just two people in this community. We have made the acquaintance of a couple of real estate agents, as well, but there are only two people we really know, people we know well enough to call friends. It’s not just the attributes of the place that we must now learn; it’s not just where to find groceries and gas and how to arrange for utilities and where to do our banking. It’s where to find people with whom we can develop friendships, people for whom we serve as reliable rock-solid resources and upon who we can depend when we need help.
The interesting element of the people-component of this move is that my both wife and I have limited needs for social interaction with others. We enjoy the company of very few people enough to want to spend time with them. But when we find such people, they become very important to us. For us, the aphorism is absolutely true: you can count your true friends on the fingers of one hand. The reality that we are not particularly social people emphasizes the importance of finding people with whom we can develop friendships. Unlike grocery stores and banks and radio stations and theatres, though, relationships are not easy to find. They are not easy to develop into friendships. They are not easy to count on.
All of that having been said, it seems best to focus on the easy stuff first: learn the lay of the land, find the attributes of the community that make living in it more comfortable and more convenient, then begin the process of meeting people, cultivating social relationships, and developing friends. In the meantime, those friends who have taken their place in the count of the fingers of one hand will remain there and will, one day, visit this new place we’re just beginning to learn.
There’s so much to learn about a new community. There are so many things one begins to take for granted after having lived in one place for a long time. Moving to a new place jolts one’s brain out of its routine and forces a confrontation with the unfamiliar. That can only be a good thing. Change brings with it challenges to complacency.
This is going to be fun. This is going to be an opportunity to prove that tired old cliché really is true: it really is possible to reinvent oneself!