Going Solo at Our Little House

We spent an absolutely beautiful late summer evening last night in town eating at a new Italian restaurant.

It was a real treat after yoga. Not only was the food surprisingly good, we had a good time and a nice drive home through the mountains.

It reminded me of our first fall here 4 years ago. I would meet Dale in town after work on Friday evenings and we would eat at the soda fountain diner, which was the only game in town then.

We were excited for our new lives here, but at the same time, we were also missing our friends and family in Kansas City.

Not knowing hardly anyone except the guys Dale worked with, we watched people interact in the restaurant, most of them probably having known each other all of their lives.

Dale and I have never had a large group of friends we did things with, as DINCs (Double Income No Children) for all but two years of our married life (when our exchange daughters lived with us), it was typically hard to find people our age who didn’t have kids and the busy lives families entail.

Most of our friends were older empty nesters.

When we moved here, we envisioned making even more friends we could enjoy activities with, especially now that we’ve caught up with that empty nester age.

The first fall we were here, we met a couple at a Dutch Oven cooking class. We were paired with them for our project and we had a really good day cooking our assignment up and enjoying it afterward.

We exchanged phone numbers and….well, nothing.

We wondered if we had imagined having such a good time and clicking with them, but then we started noticing that most people didn’t go out and do things around here.

My mom always used to hate going to visit my father’s parents in small town Arkansas. “They roll up the sidewalks at dusk,” my mom would remember. A night owl, Mom used to make Dad take her down the highway to the truck stop for coffee at 8 p.m. when my grandparents would go to bed.

It isn’t that Dale hasn’t made friends at work and I haven’t made a few in my weekly jaunts out to yoga and occasionally to the sushi bar.

It’s just that people still live the way in small towns today as they did back in the 40s and 50s when my parents visited my dad’s childhood home.

When I learned REO Speedwagon, one of our all time favorite bands was coming to our very new and wonderful performing arts center, I asked Dale if he thought any of his buddies from work and their wives would like to go.

Nope.  “They just aren’t used to doing stuff like that,” Dale told me. The same reason the owner of the local coffee drive thru tells me having a full coffee shop open on Saturday nights wouldn’t work in our town.

I would kill for a good cup of Joe after a Saturday evening out and running errands, but since most restaurants even lock their doors by 8-9 p.m., a hip coffee shop open till 10 probably wouldn’t make it long.

While we ate last night, I thought of the first fall we were here, sitting alone in the restaurant not knowing a soul. At least that has changed, it wasn’t long before someone came in we know. People may not go out much around here, but at least when they do, we now usually have someone to talk to.


Have you ever moved to a new area or small town, and if so, did you find it hard to find friends to socialize with?


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30 Responses

  1. Becky says:

    I was worried this very subject..as we move closer to our finally move to a small costal town.. (coming from a big city) we only know a few neigbors (alittle) and they are still at the working age.. Im very social but love love living in a small town (did as a child) so it always worried me how I will get connect with new people.. I guess there is checking out new churches or looking for classes to join.. I agree with some replies here.. thanks GOD for the internet and my favorite fb… :o)

  2. Merr says:

    Such an interesting perspective, Kerri…the same yet very different as kids who must start new schools. It’s like the more things change, the more they stay the same. It also makes me more aware of how others might feel moving to a place I’ve been in for a longer time.

    • Kerri says:

      Yes, I’ve been more aware of how other “newbies” are doing. I try to help them by referring them to hair people, the yoga studio, doctors. And, inviting them to lunch!

  3. Sarah says:

    I think as you get older, it requires a lot more effort to make new friends and socialize with them.

    My parents bought a cottage in a tiny community and lived there in the Summer. They frequently walked over to nearby cottages and invited people over (or stayed for a beer) and were always happy to pull in any wanderers to their campfire.

    After my dad died, my mom had some trouble keeping it all up. But one friend in particular would just come by. She didn’t bother to call first, and sometimes she brought other people. It didn’t bother her to be intrusive, and as a result the friendship continued.

    It’s hard to wrap our heads around a mentality of just wandering the neighborhood and walking into someone’s backyard to chat while they’re eating BBQ. But you have to figure that’s what people who have known eachother their whole lives do. That’s how we found playmates when we were kids: walk to the park, find some kids, play, invite them home.

    As adults, we’re worried about being rude. We’re worried about intruding. But the very nature of making a new friend requires that you insert yourself into someone else’s life – usually without an invitation.

    • Kerri says:

      This is a whole new way to look at it, Sarah. You’re right, we are much more bold to insert ourselves into the lives of people we want to make friends with when we are younger. Thanks for the insights.

  4. I haven’t lived in a small town like that, but I do think it’s hard to make new friends when you move.

  5. I agree with another commenter that it’s hard to find other couples friends. It’s a complicated chemistry among four people — so rare, but wonderful when you find it.

  6. Sheryl says:

    As my children got older, I found that our circle of friends got smaller. And once you’re at a certain stage of life, it is hard to make new connections. I do have friends spread all over the country, but only a handful who are locals.

  7. Heather L. says:

    It is difficult to find other couples to do things with because not every member of the group may be in tune with the others. We’ve been lucky in that we’ve had two couples that we could enjoy an evening out. With the first couple, after the wife died of breast cancer, our relationship ceased although we tried.

    So, it’s not always about how large the community is, sometimes aging is also a factor. Good friends are a rare commodity and cherish them if you have them.

    • Kerri says:

      Yes, and we thought as we got older, it would be easier, as there wouldn’t be the “child factor” at play. We have some good friends in KC and everytime we go back, it is a rush to try to get seeing them all in.

  8. When I divorced and moved to a new house, I did wonder if it would be difficult finding new friends, meeting new neighbors. It wasn’t. I know all of my neighbors. But I only socialize with a few of them. I live in a big city and am always amazed when I find out people I’ve known for years live very close to me. Some follow up when you exchange numbers, some don’t. Luckily, my neighborhood schedules the occasional block party where you can meet up. My own street did that a few times, which I thought was great fun. I think you have to be proactive when it comes to socializing. You have to look for things to do with other people, which it appears that you do. But I think I’d go nuts if everything where I lived closed down at 8 or 9 all the time. Do you?

    • Kerri says:

      Yes, Jackie. We’re from a big city so this has been hard to adapt to. Unless we want McDonald’s later, there’s really no choice. We had forgotten how late cities typically stay open. The last time we went to KC and was walking around The Plaza later, we went into Cheesecake Factory and was amazed they were still open at 11!

  9. Alexandra says:

    Funny you should ask because I have been thinking about this a lot. I know lots of people in our small town, but how many do I consider friends?? Not many! I think it has to do with getting older. People bond less later in life. Perhaps we are used to losing friends from moving to new places? It makes me treasure the friends I do have all the more. Great topic for a blog post! I really felt your mood, too.

  10. Dian Emery says:

    I envy your decision to live life small. That’s something I’m really wanting to do now that both of our kid’s are in university.

    I’ve lived in both tiny towns (4,000) and large cities, either place can be lonely, but at least now we’ve got the internet. It makes moving and starting up in a new place a little easier:)

    • Kerri says:

      Thank you, Emery. I’m glad you found Living Large! Good luck with your impending move. I agree, the Internet has made this so much easier. We still do, however, miss evenings out with our friends.

  11. Kerri, you can take a boat from Lakeview docks and cruise to Branson on Bull Shoals lake. Boy, do I know what you are talking about. I call this my island, maybe I feel alone because I have no family near. When I lived in Siloam Springs I had family and friends – maybe, it was the things I was involved with -I really don’t know. I am grateful for your friendship for it has kept me going even if it was through emails and meeting when we could.

    • Kerri says:

      Hi, Mary, Yes, we took a very long ride from Branson once down to Bull Shoals. I think Nanci thought Bull Shoals Boat Dock was in Branson, though. I’m glad you’re my friend too, Mary! It’s been wonderful having a friend like you. I can’t wait for The Nutcracker.

  12. NoPotCooking says:

    As a mom with two teenagers, we are just now beginning to think about finding people to do things with and it is slim pickings, so I feel your pain.

  13. Nanci Bliss says:

    I understand completely! Something that was in place in our neighborhood when we moved in was a neighborhood listserve. Through the listserve we have been able to communicate with each other about critter sightings in the area (bears, mountain lions) and also discuss various services such as internet service options. Beyond that, it is a great way to chat back and forth and establish friendships that then lead to monthly gatherings (We call it the non-game Bunco meetings. Frankly it is an opportunity to get together and EAT!). Perhaps others in the area want to do the same thing and you can be the one to initiate it!

    PS: We leave for Kansas City on Saturday. Will be at Bull Shoals on Sunday, I believe. I think we are leaving from Bull Shoals boat dock out of Branson. Are you close to there?!

    • Kerri says:

      Naci, that is a very good idea. I love getting together to eat, one of my favorite activities! 🙂 Bull Shoals Boat Dock is actually in Bull Shoals, Ark., not Branson. Branson is home to Lake Taneycomo and Table Rock. Let me know if you truly will be in Bull Shoals, maybe I can meet you!

  14. mat says:

    We’ve been in our town for 6 years now and it’s still hard to find friends to socialize with. I have a very old friend (probably my oldest friend) who lives across town…that I haven’t heard from since May. Even though our immediate neighbors, who are nice, fairly sane people, we just…don’t…feel a real sense of friendship with them. Community, perhaps, but friendship, not so much. It’s sort of a “good fences make good neighbors” kind of feeling.
    I think for me, it has to do with getting older, getting out of school, and losing that sense of camaraderie with everyone I meet.

    • Kerri says:

      Glad to know this just isn’t a feeling we’ve developed here. I agree, Mat, it is a sense of community. I know any one of our neighbors would be there to help us. But there isn’t that sense of true friendship. Maybe it is because we’re getting older.

  15. V Schoenwald says:

    Yes, very much so.
    When I moved back to this community I live in, to which I was born and raised here and graduated school from Denver CO, I never felt really welcome. The bad thing is here, its a community of about 25,000, but the only nightly activity is the drug dealing and the boozing and bar scene. Other than that, that is all that goes on here. My partner and I don’t party or drink, so we don’t fit into the dope/booze scene. And if you don’t do this, you are a freak.
    There isn’t much to do here either. There are summer activities, and other things but it is centered on booze or beer to bring in people. Not too much fun for myself as I don’t want to be around violent, booze-fueled attitudes.

    • Kerri says:

      People usually move here for the outdoor activities, hiking, boating, kayaking, etc. Typically 1-2 people activities too. Your town sounds a bit troublesome, V. I hope you can move from there soon.