The Huntington Gardens is a beautiful place not far from where I live but I hadn’t been there in ages until a recent visit. A friend said that next time I go to tell her because she loves the Huntington but it “wasn’t the kind of place where she’d go alone.” I was surprised. I told her I thought it was a perfect place to be by myself. She was equally surprised and asked, what was the point of a gorgeous rose if you couldn’t turn to someone and say, “look at that.”
I am a social person but I am uncommonly comfortable with being alone. I believe that it stems from being an only child. I had to be okay with being alone. Typical of children without siblings, I found companionship in books. To this day, given the choice of banal banter with a group of friends or a good story, I have to convince myself to not opt for the story. I’m often pleasantly surprised by the enjoyment I derive from those get togethers.
When I had my daughter I knew I didn’t want her only companions to be her father and me. Luckily I found a neighborhood group designed as a baby-sit co-0p that was in reality a social club for children. I would regularly “baby-sit” two or more kids to provide playmates for my daughter. Once a month the full group would get together for a pot luck and hours of play at either the local park or one of the member homes. Those kids grew up together with all the jealousies, fights, support and sharing that you’d find in any family of twenty six children.
My daughter is now an adult. I see from her Facebook postings that she’s usually with two or more friends. She has a strong social network with friends scattered across the US and, increasingly, the world. Yes, she built those relationships and I know it takes work to maintain them but I take some credit for her friendships. I inculcated the value of friends from her early childhood and provided her, through the co-op, with opportunities to learn how to make friends and work through the attendant challenges.
I’m still as likely to go by myself to a garden, a movie, dinner or a play – all of which I did this past weekend!, but I’m also trying to create connections with the people in my life. I’m happy that my daughter has a strong network of friends and hope its not too late for me to build my own.