Those are all the years that I have moved. Either with my family growing up, going off to college, or moving with my husband or husband and child/children. As much as I dislike moving, and as much as I never want to move again, you could say I'm a pro at it.
A big part of moving is making new friends. I can look at all of those years up there and know which town we moved to and who my closest friends were in that town.
Except for one.
While hanging out at the mall with Julia and Jenna this past Saturday, and then again while eating lunch with them after church (Chad was out of town) on Sunday, I had a startling thought. My best girlfriends, right now where we live, are my children.
Of course I have adult friends. There's Carol, my BFF since college who lives in Waco. There's Lois, my best Baytown girlfriend. I still talk to the two of them just about every week.
And I have friends here that I go to lunch with every Wednesday while we're doing Community Bible Study during the school year. I have friends who live close to me -- some from church and some who are parents of my daughter's friends -- who are quick to help with different things, like picking up kids from school or checking on pets if we're going out of town. I really enjoy being with these people. I'd like to get to know them better. I just haven't yet.
I believe there are several reasons for this:
1) Moms of young children are busy. I kind of wish we were like 1950s housewives, who gathered for coffee in someone's kitchen every morning after the kids left for school. But our culture left that behind a long time ago. I got a bit spoiled in Baytown, because my best friend there was retired. I could call her up at 11:45 a.m., say "Want to go to lunch?" And she pretty much always said, "You bet!" We've both really missed those lunch dates over the past two years.
2) I work at home. There are a lot of great things about this, but one problem is that it can be quite isolating.
3) It's easier being friends with people online that in real life. On Facebook, I've reconnected with my best friend from elementary school as well as a lot of people from high school and college over the past year. I'm even Facebook friends with the guy who was my second-grade boyfriend. It's so easy to sit down at the computer, type out a quick message to someone, and then be on my way.
4) I have an innate shyness that has gotten much better over the years. But it still causes me to aware of the fine line -- whether it's real or imagined -- that exists between "getting to know new people" and crashing a long-celebrated, close-knit party to which you aren't sure you are invited. The "new kid" complex. I guess I've existed there for a while now.
5) I could say that the people we know here are spread out across Little Rock and its surrounding areas, which could make it hard to get together with on a regular basis. But the Houston area is like that, too, and I still managed to have friends in Baytown, Houston, Clear Lake, La Porte, Deer Park, Cove and Barbers Hill. (OK, so Cove is a two-square-mile area. But it really is amazing how many people I knew in those two square miles.) But now that I think about it, gas didn't cost then what it does now.
I like hanging out with my girls. But I don't think they need to be my best friends. Besides, the oldest is just a few short years away from junior high, at which point she will begin thoroughly hating me for no particular reason. So something needs to change before then.
Which brings me to my summer plans. My goal is to hang out with people I haven't hung out with yet. And hang out more with people I have hung out with. I'll either end the summer with closer friends, or a whole lot of people who just want me to leave them the heck alone. We'll see what happens.