Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Only In My World

One of the most difficult aspects of relocation is making new friends. I have to admit, I've been fairly spoiled, since all my life I've been in one framework or another, and married an incredibly social guy with a large group of friends. While I always enjoyed making new friends, there was never any need.

I assumed, once we arrived in D.C., that it would take a few weeks before I started finding girlfriends, and before we started finding a few couples which we clicked with. Not quite. Now, for those of you who know me, you would agree with this statement:

"Aliza could make friends with a brick wall."

So imagine my suprise when I found out how incredibly hard it is to meet people. Hubby and I have chosen to live in a suburb which has a big Jewish community, is a 15 minute drive from the office and is ridiculously more affordable than downtown D.C. I did my homework and checked out the area prior to our arrival, and was told that it would be completely suitable for a couple in our religious/no-kids framework. I feel slightly misled. Our apartment is gorgeous and huge, the air is clean and we're near a bunch of kosher food stores, but suburbia is, in a word, BORING. If you have no kids and like the city (gee, somewhat like myself!) you will find yourself going slightly batty. And I've definately made an effort. While I'm slowly finding some women in the community, it's taken a looooong time.

Before actually meeting the few people I've clicked with in the building, I made an effort with everyone and anyone. I was lonely for conversation, for a friend to chat with over coffee and go shopping. I really put myself out there. When Hubby and I went to a wine tasting a few weeks ago, he was duly impressed that I got more numbers than the single guys in the room. I've started conversations with people in elevators, the check-out line, the train station. You name it, I've tried to use it.

One of my efforts has actually paid off, in the form of Kim. Kim was the salesgirl at the Gap that I went to when I wanted to test my marriage (otherwise known as bringing my husband jeans shopping with me and asking for his honest opinion). One thing led to another, and soon she and I were shmoozing away as Hubby paid for the purchases. Realizing that there was no end in sight, he made the passing comment of "Why don't you two exchange numbers and go get a coffee sometime." He thought it was a joke. We took it seriously. Kim is nice, funny, a single mom and supporting herself and kids with two jobs while she gets her masters in public health. That was a good enough start for me.

Last night, Kim called. It was our first phone conversation. Making a new friend is somewhat akin to having a first date, in my mind. You think you like the person, you have a connection, but is there enough there to sustain a few hours together? What if I say something stupid? What if she doesn't like me? As we were chatting away, Kim mentioned that she was studying for a German final. I told her that the only German I know is from my work at Yad Vashem. To make a long story short, Kim is equally interested in the Holocaust, to the degree that she combined her German studies with Holocaust studies - in Germany. There should be one more thing that I should mention about Kim, to give this an even broader context - she's an African-American. Technically, she has no connection to the Holocaust other than the fact that she's a person, and the Holocaust was perpetrated on other human beings. Yet, we managed to find this random common ground.

Now put yourself in Hubby's shoes, and imagine his reaction when he was greeted with this statement as he walked in door:

"Sweetie, remember Kim from the Gap? Well, she just called and we talked for half an hour, and it was mostly about the Holocaust. Isn't it great that we have commong interests?"

It was one of many times which I've left him speechless.


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