When I first moved to the coast in September, 2012, I had no idea that it would be so hard to meet people. In fact, if I had known how difficult it would be to live someplace where I didn’t know anyone, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to move.
The first month I was here I was thrilled to discover a monthly kirtan group. I attended three times but the music was a westernized version of the Sanskrit chants I was used to, and the people weren’t very welcoming. I joined an over-50 singles meet-up group, but they were more interested in drinking than real conversation. I ventured further south to a different spiritual and again, did not connect with the energy of the community.
Friends said it would take a few years to really meet people, especially since I didn’t have co-workers. I was miserable. I spent a lot of time at home, crying, talking to Marika, and wondering if I was going to be alone forever.
But I kept trying. I found a yoga studio I liked and started seeing the same faces every Monday afternoon. Once, I even saw someone from class at the local supermarket, and that was a kick.
But I didn’t know anyone well enough to call them up and do something.
Each time I left CA and each time I came back it was different. That first time I returned, I was greeted by the regulars at Paradise Park who remembered me from my first visit. And now, two years later I have become one of those regulars. I have my designated spot, #60, and I have friends here.
Judi, who lives in one of the mobile homes in the park, has been a friend since my first time here when I was parked in the spot across from her. We chatted and hugged every time we saw each other and she loaned me her sewing machine when I was making prayer flags.
Judi is also the one who got me volunteering at the weekly food bank down the street. Judi has lived in the area for more than twenty years and knows everybody. She introduced me to the owners at Taco Temple and now I’m recognized there too. We’ve gone out for lunch, walked the labyrinth by the bay and, when Marika is here, Judi joins us for Marika’s famous homemade crab cakes. Next month, while Judi is house-sitting for a client, Marika and Mabel will even be staying at her house.
I’m friends with several other folks in the park now too. There is hugging and joking and several folks offer Cody a dog cookie when we walk by.
And I have several friends from yoga and other places that I get together with regularly for a meal or a walk and maybe even a game of Bingo next week.
The other evening as Cody and I were walking home from our sunset beach time, I saw Susie, a woman who lives in town and also volunteers at the food bank. She was walking up the bridge toward us, on her way to catch the last of the sunset over the bluffs.
She asked me about my day and I had some fun things to share. We talked about her former life as a hospice social worker and her dog Daisy, who has some spinal issues. She petted Cody and admired his coat and both of his eyes.
And when we were getting ready to part, I thanked her and said that this was one more great thing that happened today. She started to minimize the compliment and then I explained that, to see someone I know, that I like, that I want to talk with, in my own neighborhood makes me feel like I belong here, that I am part of the community. And she understood how important that is. We hugged as the sky lit up in a palette of pinks and oranges, then Cody and I walked home, hearts full of love.