I don’t want to pretend for a second that we regret moving to Oregon. It has been an unbelievably great decision. Our health has improved. We are more active. We wake up most days to beautiful fall leaves and mountain fog. The culture is very live-and-let-live and we love it here.
BUT…there’s always a but, isn’t there?
We are lonely. As friendly as everyone is, we don’t really have any friends yet. Sure, we know lots of people. Friendly people. People that are happy to greet us at work and ask us what we did last weekend. People who say hello at the apartment mailboxes. People we wave at everyday that also bicycle commute.
The fact that we didn’t have any friends yet hit us recently when we traveled out of town for a friend’s wedding. We needed a dog sitter and realized we didn’t know anyone well enough (or even have their phone number) to ask them to dog sit for us. Then there was getting a ride to the airport. Who do we ask? Collecting our mail while we were out of town? Who? We really are alone up here.
Lately we’ve been trying to make plans for Halloween. It falls on a Saturday this year and we are both off of work that evening. We’ve both been dropping hints every chance we get that we have no plans and we’d love to join in on whatever it is that people do up here to celebrate. The hints have all bombed. Apparently tons of people are throwing parties…that we are not invited to.
Then there’s the holidays. Since we’re both new to our jobs, we both work and don’t have enough time off to fly home and visit our families. So, like two little smelly orphans (this is not to suggest orphans smell, only that we must stink since no one wants us around) we will be spending the holidays alone up here.
Sometimes we feel like strangers in a strange land. The weather reports on the news offer an “outfitters guide” and a bicycle forecast. No. Seriously. I took a picture because I knew the folks back home would never believe me.
Sometimes we have no idea how to react in conversations (“you have to drive out to the Dalles tonight…..wow??? Is that far then?”) Then there’s the home buying process. So far we’ve been turned down by three realtors. Apparently no one wants to work with you if you are trying to buy property, no matter how small for anything less than $200k. The folks at work tell me they have missed out on houses because they didn’t bid $100k above the listing price.
So, as glad as we are to be here, sometimes it hits us hard that we are two thirty-somethings stuck in a crappy, little apartment with no one to hang out with but each other. It’s a dramatic change from just six months ago when we had a large house with a large yard for the dogs, family just an hour away, and more friends than we knew what to do with.
To compound that lonely what-do-we-do-all-by-ourselves-this-weekend feeling, everything in our place is unfamiliar. We sold everything in the move. Everything. Now the bed we lie down on is unfamiliar. The couch I am blogging from is new. The vacuum I’m charging is new. Nothing is a friendly reminder of the life we had just a few short months ago.
And this is what our dinner conversations look like:
Me: ok, I’ve almost worked up the courage to ask one of the guys I work with out to dinner. He’s pretty cool and his wife sounds like an interesting lady. I think they might be a good couple to double date.
My husband: ya, I’ve been working on this new guy that is helping out at our office. His haircut and tie selection convinces me we could be compatible. He transfers back to his regular office next week, but I think I could close the deal by Friday.
That’s right, folks. We are trying to “ask out” and “close the deal” on some friendships. The one friend I’ve made up here was accomplished by passing a check-yes-or-no note as a joke after four days at a workshop together because I thought it would be strange to say out loud:
“I like being around you. I feel like you are someone I could someday ugly cry in front of and I value you enough I would be willing to someday spend five hours at your hypothetical 8-year-old’s birthday party with only minimal alcohol consumption. Want to make it official and give me your contact info?”
No. People don’t just say that to each other. But, oh! If only they did! This would all be much simpler.
This silly note scored me the one phone number I’ve gotten so far and when I asked for a hangout I got “I’m really busy for the next couple weeks, so…”
Somehow the idea of organically growing friendships through similar interests has not worked and we are branching out to strategize and recruit our village. We’re using all of our resources, even the puppy. I’ve set up four play dates for her in the last two weeks…and I didn’t score a phone number from a single one. Just a “Well, this has been great, we’ll see you guys around. Wonderful to meet you!”
Perhaps we’re radiating desperation and potential friends are being driven away by it? I’m not exactly wearing shirts proclaiming “Seeking friendship within ten mile radius of greater Portland” but at this point, I’m not above it.
So, in summation, we’re happy to be here; we can’t find affordable housing; we’re currently accepting friendship…any friendship….really….anyone…you don’t even have to be originally from Earth…we’ve broadened our search criteria to interstellar…and we’re just a tad lonely in a beautiful, but strange new place, surrounded by what appears to be someone else’s stuff.