The night before the memorial for Sam Grafton, I sat at a table with four women sharing stories, tears, and laughter. Two, Kim and Cate, are incredibly strong women that I’ve admired for years. One, Gwen, I met for the first time and felt an immediate bond with, wondering how I’d gone almost thirty years without meeting her. In a community of 150 people it’s not like there’s a lot of places to hide.
Later, I realized that quiet gathering was the first time I’d ever been invited to dinner by anyone in the town.
Don’t get me wrong; that’s not a statement of self-pity or judgement. I laughed. Because I realized how private our life is. Most likely the same holds true for the majority of people there. I mean, if we were social butterflies we wouldn’t live miles from a grocery store.
I am fully content in just the company of my husband (and son when he lived at home). We get on people overload quickly, and reach that level at the same time. While I can talk to anyone, about anything, anywhere, it’s only for a limited time. And then I’m overwhelmed and need the woods and the quiet, the husband and the dogs, the old house and books.
Writing is a solitary endeavor which also impacts time for socializing. I’d rather be in my corner, deep in a story world, then out at some noisy location surrounded by strangers.
I grew up wanting to be a hermit, a writer, and an eccentric who lived in the middle of the woods with a bunch of dogs. So what did I become? A hermit with family. A person who socializes occasionally. A person who socializes online on a blog. And of course, a person with dogs.
I do enjoy socializing. Just in small groups. And in limited doses. A friend staying for the weekend. A visit with another over tea. During those times we talk and talk and talk, until the husband escapes to his wood shop. With those friends, socializing is comfortable and I never reach people overload.
The past few weeks, since Sam died, I’ve been around more people than in years. And there’s comfort in that shared grieving. There’s community. And there’s been those jewel-like moments like dinner with four women around a table.
I’ve learned that socializing for me, isn’t crowds or being out in public, or spending time with acquaintances. It’s sharing with the few who are important in my life, who add to my world, who teach, who care, who surround me with their strength, who make me laugh. And sometimes cry.
You know who you are, even if I see you only once a year. I may not call, I may not drop in for a visit. But my silence isn’t a lack of caring. It’s me excelling in my form of socializing.