I have heard that the best way to get acclimated after moving to a new city is to “overbook” all the interesting things that have been suggested for you to do. The theory is that you are so busy, you forget to be lonely and you meet new people and can always cut out the things that don’t intrigue you after you have developed a fabulous, interesting social life. I am not an overbooker. But, I do not want to spend the rest of my days in Grand Rapids sighing happily and looking up at the rafters in my apartment (although I am a little too thrilled to be ensconced in my church garret). I tend to isolate, and hard as it is for me, when you are new to a city you have to make some of the first moves. I kind of hate the expression “reach out”, but that is what I am trying to do.
I can’t decide if I’m lazy or introverted, but reaching out is not easy for me. I have made a list of meetings and events, stores, museums, gyms, cultural volunteer organizations and interesting parts of town to explore. I have passed an art gallery several times when they had openings going on and said aloud, “I have to get on their mailing list.” But it seems like I fall back on long hikes (good) and holing-up (bad).
So I’ve decided I am going to overbook. And since I am in recovery, I will explore a variety of meetings, organizations and programs designed to keep people sober in Grand Rapids. I work for an addiction treatment center, but that doesn’t necessarily count in keeping me sober – we spend time working on the sobriety of others and there is certainly some opportunity for self-analysis in the process, but it would be inappropriate to sob out my troubles in the middle of a group I am heading (that is only an example, I am not inclined to “sob out” in any event, but you get what I mean…).
I headed for a get-together on Friday: new girl, late, lost and out of gas. I stopped to throw enough petrol in the car to get me to the meeting where my new friend Jan, was waiting and somehow, as I pulled the spigot out of the tank it sort of erupted like Old Faithful and gas splashed all over my pants. I am not exaggerating. The thing to have done, had I an extra half hour, which I didn’t, was to go home put my pants in a hazardous waste container, throw them in the dumpster and take a shower. Instead, I drove to the building where the meeting was being held and went in.
So, here I am, brand new to the town and trying to make friends and influence people and I arrive late, smelling like I crawled out from under a repair job in a grease pit. I don’t know how many self-help meetings you’ve attended, but there is always hugging involved. People get close. They hold hands. They smoke…
I can’t say my foray into “reaching out” was a smashing success, but I did go walking on Saturday with the Riverside Ramblers and I did get on the mailing list for the gallery. I think next Friday evening, I should spritz my L’Eau d’Issey behind my ears and redeem myself (if anyone will stand next to me)….