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There are layers to the story of finding social for 2011. The first layer is over ten years old. After graduating college (the most social time of my life to date, in my mind), I found myself back home, living with my parents, working full-time and reconnecting with friends from high school. Many of us moved back home. Together a core group of us cobbled together much socialness, bringing college friends and new co-workers into the fold. It was fun. It was chaotic. Lots of parties. Lots of planning. I (quite literally, even) became Julie from the Love Boat for this group. All I did was plan our next weekend. Our next adventure. A Caribean cruise vacation. Finding ways for all of us to be together. Working really hard not to notice that we all were really drifting apart. Drifting away from who we were as kids and defining who we were becoming as adults. It was a bumpy, bumpy ride. And along the way me feelings became really hurt. Looking back on the whole deal I can't really remember what all the drama was about our partings. I do know that there are a few people from this group I don't miss in my life. And a few that I still talk to and see occasionally, which I enjoy.
What stuck with me for many years was this feeling that I had been taken advantage of during this time. I don't remember hearing "thanks" for all the work I put into planning our social activities. Part of the issue was me. I was sort of a doormat for my friends - I didn't command much respect in how I behaved with them. But still, this lack of gratitude really bugged me and I decided I'm done being the social planner. I'll just hang out in the back seat and let others drive for a while. That worked OK for a few years. Then most of my friends coupled up, got married and started having kids. And I (we all) entered the very fake world of believing 1) if you're single, your calendar is always full of exciting things to do and you don't have for your non-single friends and 2) if you're coupled or coupled with kids your life is rooted in boring routine and obligations and your single friends don't really want to come over to your house for dinner. I can only speak of 1) from experience - and it's not true.
Now, I did learn an important life-skill over these past 7 or so years: how to be my own best friend and enjoy spending time with myself. I can't say I've mastered much in my life so far, but I have mastered this. And like it or not, most of us will likely be single as an adult at some point in our lives - and faced with living alone. I'm proof it doesn't have to be sad and lonely. I am sad and lonely at times - of course, we all are - but it's not my normal. I'm happy and content these days and it feels wonderful.
All this came to my mind in October when I sat down for an early dinner at Social on Tybee Island. It was my last day visiting Savannah and at least two shop owners I met during the week told me I had to go to Social when I was on Tybee. Even though it's on the main street, I drove by it about five times. It's a new restaurant on Tybee - very beachy, laid-back in feeling. Lots of open spaces inside and out on the porch. I loved all the white and weathered wood, the billowy fabric that was draped around the porch and the twinkle lights in the rafters. I was the only person eating outside and I pictured the place humming on a weekend evening, in an easy, friendly, smiling sort of way. Hmmm, social. The word was starting to stick with me.
The next week I was walking my usual route into work and stopped by a display board in front of our natural history museum on campus. Lots of flyers about upcoming exhibits and events. One caught me eye: Social at the Bell. I picked up that postcard and along my walk decided the universe was telling me to be more social.
So, here I am. Social is on my mind. So far, so good. I'm looking forward to what the year of social has to offer me.
(The first photo is from a little book I put together in December. I was needing a break from my Holiday Daily project and wanted to make something a bit more random and less formatted. I had some other words I had written in my journal that I thought could be my word for 2011 while at Clare's Well in August. This little book is about those words, and social, too. I had fun making it.)