For the first time in my life, the people that I am calling my friends know absolutely nothing about the first quarter century of my life, nor do they attend church with me.
This is very odd to me. The idea that someone can be considered my friend and yet they don't know my husband or anyone else in my extended family (except my children) is very foreign. I have never felt that I make friends easily, although I do make an effort to smile a lot and put myself into social situations that require me to be friendly. But I do have a sharp wit and a quick tongue, and not everyone appreciates that light teasing is how I move a conversation forward.
The four women (and their husbands) that I spent most of my free time with from 1996 - 2008 have all moved away from the valley and, although I don't necessarily feel lonely, I don't have the opportunities to socialize that I used to.
The local Kindergarten had a Harvest Festival that our family attended on Tuesday evening and I was surprised that I found myself talking to so many people. A mom I knew briefly from a community playgroup sat her family down beside us, claiming to my husband that she 'loves our family'. I had never met her husband or son, but had no problem conversing animatedly with the whole family for fifteen minutes while my own family tried to lure me away. Two minutes after getting up from the table, I identified a man I had never seen (his kids look like him) as the husband of a friend of mine (also from playgroup two years ago) and pounced, introducing myself and asking questions about his new pastorship in Astoria and his wife's nursing classes. I think I threw the poor guy off a little; he looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
In the gymnasium to pick out pumpkins to decorate, I talked with my son's T-ball coach, the previous director of the Gladstone Center (who helped me with my oldest son the last two years), the Head Start director who likes my cooking, two teachers that I know well, and their husbands. My little family felt a little abandoned that evening, I think.
Two mornings later I was the only one (a second came fifteen minutes later) of the hundred invited parents to attend a new Monthly Coffee hour with the new Director of the center (whom I've never met - but as I introduced myself her eyes widened and she expressed, "Oh! You're THAT Kristen!" Yep, that's me. I guess everyone in town knows of me.). We got along famously before my time ran out and the Girl and I made a dash for the library's Story Hour, where the children's librarian and I have developed a rapport.
Apparently, these people (and others at my son's schools) are my new 'friends'. I was a little surprised to admit to myself that I have more positive interaction and lively friendships with these people in my community than I do with the people of my church, who I've known for twenty years now. Something about that disturbs me a little, but also feels very right, in its own sense.
I have more thinking to do about this.