I'm still thinking about the importance of community when we're no longer working. I wrote about it over a year and a half ago in my blog post Retirement, Year 2, but until recently I hadn't done much about cultivating a post-retirement community. I got a jump start this winter in Tucson, when we made new friends fairly quickly in a 55-plus snowbird resort. But it's easy in that environment, when people are eager to form seasonal friendships. It's a little harder at home - which is probably why I put it off.
In the last two weeks, I've made four new connections. Here's what happened.
1. I met Carol at small claims court. I do some small claims mediation, and I was interested in observing what happens when people don't settle during mediation and go to trial instead. I spent a Monday in small claims court last month, watching. Carol was the judge. I was interested in how she managed the conversations in the cases, and how she explained the law to the disputants. After the trials were over, I remained in the courtroom to ask a few questions. We talked for almost 15 minutes - first about the cases, then about what it's like to be retired (me) or almost retired (her). We made arrangements to meet for coffee. We did, last Monday. We had a lively, interesting conversation and plan to have lunch sometime soon. In this case, I just showed up at something I was interested in and decided to "approach the bench".
2. I met Fran at a regional growth management planning meeting. I'm on the planning commission for my small city (population 6,500) and she has just been appointed. We talked for a few minutes at the growth management gathering and decided to meet for lunch. We did, last week! She's widely traveled, smart, opinionated and humorous, and our lunch conversation was quite interesting. We have a common interest in making our family-oriented city more senior friendly.
3. I did a workplace mediation last Friday with Lisa, a co-mediator from the Dispute Resolution Center. Lisa and I have co-mediated before; I like her style and she apparently likes mine. When we finished up the session we talked about other possibilities for mediating together. I'm looking forward to that.
4. I've been chatting off and on in my water aerobics class with a woman named Vicki. She and I are the only ones in the class with dark hair, so people confuse us with each other - odd, since she was born in Indonesia and I was born in California! Today in the water, we talked a bit about spirituality, and we're going to have coffee sometime soon. I have a strong spiritual bent but haven't been part of a church or spiritual community for almost 30 years. I'm feeling myself drawn to that now. I expect Vicki's community may suit me well and I'm looking forward to exploring that.
In each of these cases, my conversations were one on one. When meeting new people, that's where I'm most comfortable. I may not end up having friendships with all these women, but some of them may be part of my post-retirement community.