The Realtor connected us and it was lovely. We dined, we chatted, we agreed that we'd meet again. We're both busy. She's not here all the time. We'll add one anther to email lists and consider extending invitations to events we're planning to attend.
It's a Tucson friendship.
"How long have you been here?" is the first question asked. Some friends came for college and never left. Some followed spouses with jobs at Raytheon or transferred with military orders to Davis Monthan, our friendly neighborhood Air Force base. Many came for a vacation and couldn't imagine returning to the cold and ice of Minnesota or Michigan or the Dakotas.
I've been in Tucson for nine years, now, and I have yet to find someone who ended up here randomly. No one seems to be stuck; everyone seems to have chosen our little piece of heaven to be their own.
It's a very manageable place, my Tucson. Two-degrees-of-separation is the approximate distance between someone I know and a stranger. My celebrity has something to do with it, certainly, but there's more going on than that. We're a small town, with small venues and a few, discrete areas for entertainment. It's more than likely that I'll see a yoga friend at the Jazz Festival - just as I did last weekend.
Bill Walton was at the concert I attended, but I didn't see him. (The boys tell me that must have been because he wasn't standing up.) Instead, I found my Friday morning yoga companion in an aisle seat as Amster and I sidled by. In class the next week, we discovered others who had been there, too. We were surprised that we hadn't found them all that night.
It's that kind of place.
I'm not a big joiner, but Newcomers Club opened a wide swath of activities and human connections. We bring meals and transportation and comfort when it's needed, and we share our love of butterflies and growing things and bowling and mah jongg and books and fine dining with those we've never met. There's something for everyone. Those who need to serve immediately become Board Members. Those who like to lurk around the edges are pleasantly surprised to find that others are doing the heavy lifting and all that is required of a newbie is a smile and her presence.
Tucson's like that.
The desert is filled with trails, although many of them are inscrutably difficult to follow. Southern Arizona Hiking Club outings left me gasping and drained. Those hikers were more serious about it than I was. I made no friends in that group. I moved on to find individuals who covered the ground at a pace more to my liking, and the Desert Hikers from Newcomers provided a larger pool from which to choose personal companions.
While walking the trails, I found like minded souls for concerts and movies. Often, personal stories were unimportant. We were enjoying the moment and we were not alone. It was a surprising switch for me. I've always wanted to know the other's backstory; here, it seems less important. I'm in the here and now and I'm looking ahead. The baggage brought from previous locations, prior marriages, former places of employment, is immaterial. As I am redefining myself here in the desert, so, it seems, are those with whom I'm surrounding myself.
I'm connected to others through myself - not my children or my work or my spouse. I'm finding myself reflected in those with whom I surround myself. It's a beautiful garden filled with a variety of humans, flowering with spikes or bright blossoms or day-long blooms. I can pick and choose, depending on my mood. There's always someone who will say "Yes, I'd love to join you!"
Is it any wonder I love living here?