This month has been all about getting things done. With my laptop on the fritz, I focused my attention on organizing, cleaning, and working on my new blog, evinok.net. One of the big projects has been scanning all my art and knitting books so I can load specific patterns or books onto my iPhone as a PDF book. As I worked my way through the pile of instructional books, an air mail envelope surfaced.
A letter I wrote to a dear friend back in the States three months and one week after I moved to Ireland had escaped a trip to the GPO by hiding in a book about watercolor techniques. It is amazing to see how much I’ve settled in since then and knowing there are new expats reading this blog I decided to share the contents of that letter with you so you can enjoy a rare glimpse into my most personal thoughts as a newcomer to this beautiful island I now call home.
Maybe it will reassure you to know that when I wrote this letter, I had not yet made any friends of my own. A stark contrast to the dear friends I have since earned. Reflecting on my life then and now is a reminder of how friendship is truly a blessing. Sorry to get sappy about that, but it really is. Friendship is all about trusting and respecting one another while bumbling through life with shared interests, enthusiasm, or adventures. Of course, like love’s many representations in relationships, friendship is unique to each person. But, to me, you try to be there to listen, help, and have fun with others whose company you enjoy and when they appreciate it and feel that you are also the company they enjoy – and you thrive together – a friendship develops. Sometimes it is instant and sometimes it builds so gradually you can’t recall the particulars of those early days. With my husband, we were instant friends. With the recipient of this letter, friendship has existed for as long as I can remember and in such cases it feels more like family and can act as your inner compass. If I am ever a rock star, it is these friends who will keep me grounded!
Moving to a new place in a new culture can be challenging and lonely. When I moved here, all the advice was to join a sports team or running group, but being unathletic that was not a realistic option (though it did work when I was in Seattle and joined a kickball league). I was there with just my [fabulous] husband to talk to for over three months before I met someone I got along with who shared my interests. It took a full year before I had my own social calendar that kept me happily busy, but I worked hard to cultivate it. The shift came when I joined a knitting group and a writing group and eventually Toastmasters. All my friends have come from these experiences. So, if you are new to a city, country, or continent like I was, join a community group that aligns with your interest because dollars to donuts you will meet like-minded people there. And if you have landed in a new place already with a new friend or two, count yourself fortunate. I know that happened when my friend M moved across the U.S. and I was so relieved and happy for her to already have that support system in place. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about sharing the letter, it’s coming.