I just left some very dear people behind in California and moved to another state. The last few months before the move were very hard for me, as we were saying "Good bye" to so many wonderful friends and neighbors.
I am a (recovering) workaholic and if I have any regrets from time I spent living in the Bay Area it's that I did not take enough of that time to see friends, listen to live music or enjoy the special beauty of that place because I was so busy all the time, both at work, and on special volunteer projects for the Pagan & wildlife communities. Too many of my nights and weekends were taken up with doing and not enough with being. I had fun, of course, but looking back, I did not have nearly enough of the life I could have had there.
Ironically, I spent many weekend hours updating a Earthwise community calendar so that other people could find festivals, hikes and special events. I rarely went to these myself. I also created several events hosted by FCE (including MUSE Camp and the annual Witches' Balls) where other people could find the best kind of Pagan and interfaith community. I made it possible for them to have fun and do some good at the time. I also made some great friends while doing this work; rare and special beings who are a great blessing in my life. I'm glad that I wrote the newsletter and I grateful that I was able to mentor dozens of other, younger Pagans, as well. These are special people and they will go on to do much good in their neighborhoods.
When I look back on it now, I see that I've learned what I needed to learn and found the skills and the power I need to have in this time by doing that work. So, I have no deep regrets about that period, even though it was hard on me both emotionally and physically. That said, I'm done with that phase. I've done my time for Paganism and others, and I want some more time for myself.
I turn 50 in a few years, and something in me whispers "Carpe Diem". So, when we decided to move, I choose to let go of doing certain events at all, changed the focus of our work here at FCE so that we could do more with less, and handed off other duties to senior volunteers who can do them well, and will enjoy the challenge. I can't tell you how good that feels.
Now I live in a wildly beautiful but very different place and I plan on enjoying my life to the fullest. I also intend to make new friends.
Shared interests help a lot when it comes to meeting people, so I plan to go on wildflower walks in my free time, do some birding with groups, maybe take a class or two; just get to know the place.
I think finding friends is a lot like dating; if we're desperate, we don't find anyone at all but if we get on with our life and do what we care about, good people are drawn to us. Or are they sent? Who knows. My job will be to recognize the healthy ones, and to stay the hell away from the ones wedded to drama and trauma.
I'll also stay in touch with the people I love via visits, emails, phone calls and online journals. It's good, but it's not the same. I'll miss walking with my dog and seeing friends all over the neighborhood, or just being able to pick up the phone and say "Would you like to have lunch?" So it goes.
I've moved from a suburban neighborhood in Silicon Valley to the country. I now live in a forest where I can't even see my neighbors and we need to drive 20 minutes down the mountain before we hit the road that flows down into a river valley, past orchards, horse ranches and farmland before it finally meanders into town. It's exactly what I wanted and I wake up every day now thinking "Look where we live!". But peace and quiet comes with a price and if I want to meet people now, I'll have to leave my room :-) Luckily, I also like solitude and my own company, so I'm not feeling desperate about any of this.
For me, this is a Time Between. I've have lots of acquaintances, and will certainly make more of those here, but I"m far more interested in meeting people who share my interests, passions, sense of humor and ethics. In fact, it feels oddly like collage; I feel so lucky to be here and so full of joy at what I'll find and learn and who I'll meet that I can't wait to get out there.
When I look back, I see that the people I find interesting are those who are interested in life. The best way to attract such people is to be one. "Be what you would wish to seem" as Socrates said. It's easier said than done, of course, but he had the right idea. Another good saying that fits this idea is that "Water seeks it's own level." In other words, if I find that there is someone dysfunctional, who is disrupting my life, I ask myself, "What is it about me that attracted that person?"
What do I really want in a friend? Well, I need people who are on some sort of a Path. It doesn't have to be my path, or even a spiritual path, but I do need to be around people who are working on their "stuff" and not those who are unconscious or addicted to being victims. And I need to be around people who like to have fun without hurting themselves or others. I especially need to be around people who care about something more than themselves.
Those people are out there, I just need to find them. And, as my mother always said, "To have a friend, you need to be a friend". So I'll keep working on making myself happy, aware and fulfilled so that I am a good friend to my old friends and to my new ones, as well.
(1) I'll be frank: What I don't need (or even want) is to meet other Pagans. At least not as such. I have friends from all religions and practices, but like many Pagans, I once yearned to meet other people of like mind. Or so I thought. Like others before me, I discovered that far too many people at the festivals, open events and meets saw this path, not as a way to grow, but as a way to excuse bad behavior. I've been Pagan now for over 25 years, and I've worked directly in the Pagan community for almost half that time, and I now know all the functional, healthy, happy, creative Pagans that I really need to know. It took me 10 years to find some of those folks, and I had to meet a hundred Pagan people for every one I actually wanted to know better. Are my Pagan friends perfect, unusually powerful or wyrdly elite? Nope. Neither am I (and bless them for putting up with my many imperfections) but they are funny, and smart, balanced and thoughtful, well read and honest. Each of them is committed to becoming the best person they can be, without excuses. They are brave and inquisitive and they call me on my Sh**t. I love being around them. I'm a better person for knowing them, and I like to think that they are better for knowing me. Maybe the best way to say it is this: We celebrate each other with respect and love much in the same ways that we celebrate the Goddess.
These days, I can count my Pagan acquaintances by the hundreds, but my Pagan friends comprise a much, much smaller circle of people. I find that's true of most of the Pagans I know who have been in the Craft for a long time. Recently, at PantheaCon, another Pagan Organizer offered to give me names of two people I might like to meet here in my new state. "Are they sane?" I asked. "Yes", she said, (she knew what I meant), "they are stable, funny, smart adults; just ordinary Pagans, you'll like them." She would know. Those two people, I'll call.