Friday, June 13, 2008


Last night, after a long day of doing nothing but a lot of knitting and a lot of what I have come to call "managing my online presence," I had drinks and snacks with some friends from my guidebook experience last year. After that I went to dinner with Fred and then he gave me a fabulous birthday gift.

After I left the friends, I was filled to the gills with glee. Yes, glee. (noun, great delight) I thought, This is what I've been needing all day. It's what I really love. For me, so much of the enjoyment I get out of life is about community and being around people I really enjoy being around.

One of the women in the group is about to move back to the US. Family circumstances are taking her back. And she turned to me and remarked that being around familiar people is what has been missing in her life for a while. She has lots of friends and knows a lot of other people. She's really well connected here. But the group felt very comfortable, we were all very open to being there. There's something about walking into a room and having people say "[your name here]! How are you? Good to see you."

It's very easy for me to be isolated. I just don't leave the house. Or I go to work and come home, full stop. And even when I come home to a guy as wonderful as Fred (and my wish is that everyone can come home to someone that they really enjoy being around), there's still the wider community that is a really big part of my life.

I have a very active social life. I have knitting on Monday night with an ever-changing group of women. We sit and knit and talk, and even though we don't really know each other, we are fairly familiar with each other and we talk about ongoing projects and life. Knitters are very generous people. I also have a choir that I sing with on Tuesday nights. It's not really a social group, but I've known most of them (even though it may be only peripherally) for years. Of course I am closer to some than others, but we generally know what's going on in each other's lives. And I have a writers group that meets every other Wednesday. That is an incredible group. We sit and talk and catch up and discuss our writing. And yet I still find myself feeling like I'm alone sometimes. Like if I didn't show up, no one would notice. Not completely true, but that's another story.

When people move here, I always suggest they find a group to join. I get a lot of "I'm really not a group person." But without other people, we're all alone. Especially in a place like Amsterdam - or any other city of any size - it's easy to get lost in the crowd. It's easy to get into a rhythm of going to work, coming home, watching some tv and going to sleep, repeat, repeat, repeat. My saving grace when I moved here was doing volunteer work at a homeless drop-in place. How it made my heart sing to walk in and hear the other volunteers say, "Andy! How are you?"

After moving from NYC where I knew, and came in contact with, hundreds of people each week, suddenly no one looked at me with any recognition. No one knew my name. No one made me feel special just for being me and showing up. Fred was wonderful, but he's one person. And he works all day. And making him solely responsible for taking away my feelings of isolation is an incredible burden to lay at his feet. He was very supportive and helped me find the volunteer job and the choir.

I can still feel that tingly happy feeling (mixed with a great deal of regret) from last night when I left those women. I smiled the whole way home and said, "Thank you thank you thank you." I would have loved to have stayed and talked and laughed. It's like a drug, and I want more, which is why I am such a socially-oriented person. But like any drug, you can't stay high all the time (believe me, I've tried), so I mix in a good amount of Fred time and a good amount of Andy-alone time.

So go meet some people. People are great. And if they're not, find some that are great.

By the way, my fabulous gift was a new printer with a scanner and a copier. Romantic, huh? It came totally out of left field. It's perfect. I wasn't even dropping a hint when I mentioned a scanner, but he picked up on it. Clever guy.

And thanks to everyone who commented yesterday. I got 20 comments, which made me feel wonderful. And there were good wishes on Facebook and Ravelry and personal emails. It was a really great day. Thank you all.


Littlelou said...

Totally with you on the isolated thing..I moved from a wee village where everyone had known me since I was a babe in arms. I only moved 26 miles but it could have just as well have been the other end of the earth. I joined 'groups' ..Monday..knit group..Tuesday..swim group..Friday..volunteer work. Its not quite the same as 'home' but it works.

Anonymous said...

How about joining the yoga community? Why let such a great yoga body go to waste?