I recently met up with some old friends I haven’t seen for years. It was so fun to reconnect with them. Driving home I flipped through my mental Rolodex, thinking of all the people I’ve befriended in my life (if we don’t have actual Rolodexes anymore, can I still keep my mental Rolodex?) Then my husband was channel surfing the other night and came across a Seinfeld episode. I was drawn to the TV – it felt like running into old friends who were a huge part of my life. So much so that a real (not TV) friend who I worked with during the Seinfeld years recently sent me an obituary of an actor who played a character on Seinfeld (Mr. Kruger,) as if he was our mutual friend. I guess, like all the Seinfeld characters, he sort of was.
I cherish my friends, each for their special qualities and the joy they bring to my life. While I’m not necessarily actively recruiting new friends, I am open to whomever might cross my path. Sometimes you meet someone and there’s a spark – a connection, if you will. Wow, you think, I would like to get to know this person better. Many people say they don’t have time to see the people they already know; how could they possibly interview and “date” new people? When I meet someone new and there’s a spark, I am magically able to make room in my life. It’s funny how that happens.
In my middle-age I am an odd juxtaposition of intolerance and openness. I can be cranky and set in my ways, yet I can also be excited about life and open to new experiences and people. I think of myself as a social misanthrope, although my truly misanthropic friends scoff at this description of friendly old me.
I’ve turned to yoga – something I never thought I would do. I’ve been practicing on and off for three years at the same studio. One of my favorite instructors talks about the line between effort and ease in yoga practice – I’m all about trying to achieve that balance, in yoga and in life. I like the idea of stretching myself to experience new things, becoming a stronger person in a way that feels manageable yet sometimes a little uncomfortable to me.
Sure, many people are most comfortable with people who are like them- same neighborhood, same schools, kids the same age, etc. That’s where many of my closest friends come from too. But I also like hanging out with different people.
For instance, if you had told me ten years ago that I would be hanging out with many religious Jewish women, I would have said you’re crazy. Lo and behold, here I am – immersed in organizations that provide wonderful services for my son with special needs and a group that takes women to Israel as a means to inspire and empower women with Jewish values. We may dress differently, have different lifestyles and varying levels of religious observance but our desire to achieve the same goals brings us together and makes for some wonderful relationships.
I can be a closed book or open to new chapters. For me, it’s the characters that make the book really interesting. Thanks to all the characters in my story.