Friday, September 18, 2015

Wanted: Daytime Friends

If one of the Big Three requirements for a happy Third Third is a sense of community, you may cheerfully look around and say, “I’ve got that.” So you quit your job and pretty quick you realize that many of your friends are still working. The daytime playmate pool is pretty meager. If time goes on, and you haven’t resolved this, eventually you don’t just need daytime playmates; you need human interaction.

Talking to cashiers and the postman just won’t cut it.

When I first quit my job, my daytime socializing was lunch. If everyone was busy working, I’d grab them during intermission. This worked pretty well, but mostly, I’m not a lunch-out-every-day person. So then we expanded to meeting for walks or lunch at my house.

I don’t drink coffee and I don’t work on a laptop so I haven’t hung out in coffee houses. Only recently did I discover that coffee people have their regular places and times so they meet the folks with those same regular places and times. It’s like the college dining hall: you don’t have to extend yourself and actually invite someone or make a plan; they’re just there.

This “just there” thing becomes pretty important when you start suffering social isolation. You start thinking everyone is busy during the day except you, and you get pathetic. It is just too hard for a pathetic person to call friends and make lunch plans. You are not just lonely; you’re also socially deficient.

Even if you went to a coffee house, probably no one would talk with you. Because you’re socially deficient.
I’m guessing stay-at-home moms may have had these same social issues, but the Third Third person lives in an empty nest so there isn’t even a kid.

I’ve been pretty lucky in that I’ve always had Fridays off. Many years ago, a group of us started meeting Friday mornings. We were all sole proprietors, and when it felt a little too solo we had each other. We ended up tight friends … who are still there Friday mornings. Many weeks, Friday morning was my social anchor.
When Irene retired, she started a regular Thursday morning group that rotated meeting in coffee houses all over Anchorage. That’s a little more drop-in so everyone is “just there.” Irene did a great public service arranging that. It even works for non-coffee drinkers.

So if I were to clarify the bit about needing “a sense of community,” I’d say “a sense of community that includes daytime friends unless the structure you’re created for yourself takes care of those daytime hours.”

A therapist with daytime openings does not count.

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