I’m a fixture
Remember that Sesame Street song? “Who are the people in your neighbourhood?” (Just watched that clip. Goodness, that’s cheesy. Sweet, but cheesy. Is it still part of the show?)
I was walking through our neighbourhood the other day with a woman who doesn’t feel very connected here. She’s lived here a couple of years, but has no friends, she says. She’s quiet, but she has two young children, and that in itself is usually enough to bridge the gap. I’m not sure why this would be the case, but we’re going out for coffee.
I wouldn’t say I’m a friend yet, but I’m open to the idea. I understand what it is to feel disconnected. I have friends, but I’m more introvert than extrovert, so I don’t have an enormous drive to collect friends in great bunches, and, though I’ve broadened the definition over the years, I’m still fairly slow to label a relationship as a friendship. Could this woman ever be a “real” friend, by my admittedly stringent standards? I suspect not, but I like her, she’s lonely, and an hour or two chatting in a coffee shop is a simple, easy way to do a kindness. And who knows? It could end up being a real friendship! So I walk to her house, and from there we walk the few blocks to one of the several coffee shops in range.
Half-block up from her home, a former client stops to chat for a moment. Introductions all round.
A block further on, a fellow from the dog park waves. Introductions all round.
At the next corner, someone stops to ask if I’m the woman who looked after Emily, and then asks if I have spaces, which I don’t. I give her contact info for a different caregiver.
Further down the block, Grace calls from her front porch. Grace’s mother waves. Introductions all round.
A former client is leaving the coffee shop as we enter. Introductions all round.
As we settle into our chairs, my lonely neighbour’s eyes are wide. “You know everyone!”
A funny idea, for me, the friendly enough but not particularly socially inclined ambivert. (Thanks for that term, Carol, for I suspect that’s what I am.) Though in recent years I’ve consciously decided to cultivate more friendships, I don’t need a lot of socializing in my life. I almost never get lonely. I prefer a night at home to a night out.
But, what do you know? I do know people in my neighbourhood. Lots of them. None of the people we met were friends, but I know lots. Even more know me.
They know me because I am one of ♫♫”the people that you meet, ♫ when you’re walking down the street, ♫ the people that you meet each day.”♫♫♫
I am The Daycare Lady.
You know what?
I kind of like it.