My Brother used to call me Quasimodo when I lived in Paris. There I was, lurking behind the long curtains in our apartment peeking down at the beautiful street in the Marais watching the World go by. In my defence, I did see a lot from those windows...a car explode on fire, a cat get caught up on roof (cue a few of Paris' finest firefighters) and even a supermodel's photo shoot. Anyway, you get his point....
You'll see from my previous posting some of this was down to my lack of ability/effort to learn French (unforgivable I know). I also worked from home for an English company which kept me tied to my desk and I'm a pretty reserved person. Excuses excuses I hear you say...
Before becoming an expat spouse, I can't remember many situations where I was forced to proactively make myself a social circle. At school, university and summer camps everyone was in the same position and most were much better at starting/approaching conversations than I was - so I left them to it and enjoyed their friendship....I'm totally in awe of these people. I met one of my best friends when she had joined our school at 16 (most of us had joined at 11). She just approach me out of nowhere and asked me if I wanted to hang out at the weekend. I once asked her about it - she said she saw me and thought "I want to be friends with her" so just asked. Doesn't that sound so wonderfully simple but absolutely terrifying? Without people like my best friend, I would have no friends. Zilch, Nada, Nein, Nyet.
Despite what my little Bro might say, I'm not actually a complete social numpty. I revel in the company of my friends and can be even somewhat loud at times (gasp). It is just the whole "can I have your number?" follow through has me short breathed and sweaty, which I guess it is a bit like dating.
I was having coffee and macaroons with my friends here in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago (at the Bel Cafe YUM) when one of them asked what I did the year I was in Vancouver before any of them had arrived. I was absolutely stumped! I couldn't really explain a year of my life outside of my Husband's company, moving, planning a wedding and a few trips home for intense socialising. It was actually hilarious because my next door neighbour laughs at how she would sometimes catch the elevator down to the parking level at the same time as my Husband in the morning and would quiz him about whether he had a Wife. She was later panic stricken wondering whether he thought she was propositioning him when she simply wanted to know if there was a potential friend living next door. When I finally bumped into her, I gave her the wrong number which led to another few awkward encounters. Finally, I popped a card through her door with an apology and a full extended list of my contact details. The only cards I had in my house had pictures of cats on, which must have seemed a bit strange because we laugh about the "cat card" now (smooth I know).
However, there is hope for me yet when about a year ago, we went to a gathering of people from my Husband's work and there was a new expat couple fresh off the plane. I was the wrong side of tipsy and went straight up to his Wife, introduced myself and asked for her number so we could meet up next week. There are very few moments in life when I can learn from drunk J but she is way better at making friends than sober J....I triumphantly walked away with the number of a lovely lady (of whom I now count a friend) and finger snapping at my sober self saying "honey.....now thats how its done".
So this year we are moving and I'm hereby setting myself the challenge to proactively make friends immediately in our next posting. I have no strategy yet (help required) but when laziness and shyness overtakes me (which it will) I must remember how enriched my life has been in the latter part of my posting in Canada, the lifelong friends I have made and how much I have learnt & laughed with them.
As always, sharing any similar experiences, advice and recommendations to help us along the way would be much appreciated!
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