I've blogged a few times about my preference for diversity in the people around me. During weekdays I mostly see other retirees when I walk in the morning (they're walking their dogs then, but the still-working people aren't around) or swim at the local recreation center. And around here in the winter, the kids go indoors before dark, so I don't see much of them.
I had a couple of encouraging experiences recently. One day last week I had coffee in the morning at Starbucks with a friend. She is younger than I, with two teenagers, but we always have lots to talk about, and we meet for coffee every couple of months. This time she had a major health concern that she'd just found out about. For two hours I sat and listened as she vented and planned and cried. I was one of the first people she'd told, she said.
That same afternoon I met another friend for coffee at a different Starbucks. She has three small children and she talked to me about why she is divorcing her husband. I could tell she had done all she could to salvage the relationship but felt like she had no choice but to leave. I watched her as she talked about her options, feeling sad for the difficulties I know she'll have, but admiring her courage.
And that night I got a call from my nine-months-pregnant neighbor. Would I go for a walk with her? She hoped the exercise would start her labor. We walked for an hour and a half in the darkness, talking and hoping. (It was another ten days before she had her baby; I held Elsa Rayne for the first time just this afternoon.)
All three of these women are friends of my heart, though I am a generation older than they are. Maybe it means I'm vital and interesting to other people.
Then, this past weekend, I flew to Oregon for the funeral of my ex-husband's brother, who passed away suddenly at 62. It's been nearly 30 years since that marriage ended, but I knew many of the people - all the siblings came, some of the cousins, some of the nieces and nephews including my two sons. As my current husband commented, I'm an "outlaw", but I knew all the siblings when they were teenagers or younger, and now that they're all middle aged I can still have conversations with them. They seemed glad to see me, and three people invited me to attend the next family reunion! It was good to be supportive of the grieving family, and to have my own fond thoughts of my deceased brother-in-law. He was a good husband and father and brother, and he will be missed.
It's times like this when my place in the community is affirmed. I love being part of the wider world.
5 hours ago