Krissie: Ya Gotta Have Friends

Photo on 5-30-13 at 9.27 AM #2So, about friends. I live in a weird place. When I was in my early twenties I moved up here to write my first book. Fortunately found Richie and we married, and we’ve lived here for more than 40 years (and every summer of our lives beforehand). But there’s an odd vibe in the year-round residents. I don’t know if it’s just my little town, or VT, or what, though I did mention it to my therapist and she said she’d always had the sense that our town was particularly unfriendly.
First, when I was a young married, there was a women’s group, filled mostly with young mothers who didn’t work. They were my age, transplants mostly, and I was blackballed from the group. (Blackballed meaning every time there was an opening and someone’s name was mentioned, if one person objected then that person was off the list. I.e. me.) In a town of (at that time) 500 people, if 20 of the young women are in a group and you’re excluded there’s not too many people left. Trust me on this. A couple of women set themselves up to rule society, parties and such, and we were included off and on. Less so when Taffy moved up and one of the social leaders’ brother moved in with her. Life changed, our kids exploded, I got caught up in my career, everyone got divorced or moved away.
Now we have a new social order. It’s couples this time, mostly in their early to mid-seventies, with lots of money. All of them used to come here in the summer, and they’ve created a clique-ish society based more on what they were used to in their upper middle class working life.
We don’t fit there either. (And aren’t included, but that’s okay).
Another problem is we hardly drink. Oh, we’ll have the occasional beer or glass of wine, but we’re just not into it. And drinking drives most social interactions. We don’t disapprove of other people drinking, but for some reason enthusiastic drinkers don’t like to party around non-drinkers. I don’t know why.
And I know I can be hard to take. I get a little too enthusiastic, a little too over the top. I annoy people, when I certainly don’t mean too. Most of the time I’m kidding when I’m being extravagant (in behavior, not financially) and even when it’s really me, I’m doing it with a sense of humor. I have lousy boundaries and defenses, which puts people off. But I’ve got a heart of gold, really. (shrug). I just get on people’s nerves sometimes.
Richie’s quiet, and sometimes people don’t seem to recognize how wonderful he is. Or they figure he’s not worth dealing with me.
I’m not meaning to put myself down. I do know I’m fabulous, and the things that annoy people aren’t things I’m going to change. I yam what I yam. I just accept the fact that some people find me hard to deal with (I can name you names in the business).
So I need to find a place where Richie can make friends who like to work with wood, make music, aren’t sports mad (we don’t usually care much for sports either). Where he can just be who he is. And a place where people aren’t easily bothered by some of my more outre behavior. I truly believe I lost decades-long friends simply by playing them “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails (which I happen to love, and is very evocative of some of my writing). Actually I think I need to be around non-competitive creatives (easier said than done).
Or maybe just nice, friendly, accepting people who are looking for reasons to like people instead of looking for reasons not to.
But you never know what people will be like until you live there. We hope when we move we’ll find a friendlier atmosphere. My BFF, who lives here now and has lived many other places, says that anywhere else I’d have tons of friends. (The BFF hates it here, except for the beauty, and she’s going to move). I don’t know. I expect I’d be happier in a new place without friends than a place where I’ve always been pushed to the outskirts.

75 thoughts on “Krissie: Ya Gotta Have Friends

  1. My son and his family live close to you, and the first time I visited there, I knew I was where–in some incarnation or another–I was meant to be. I love every inch of it. But my kids have lived there 15 years, and they still have very few friends and even fewer “kindred spirits.” They’re moving back to Indiana, which is happy for me, but I grieve for the dreams they had and that I’ll no longer have a reason to visit Vermont. It’s too bad so much sadness goes with so much beauty.

  2. Deb says:

    It’s not you…it’s Vermont. Especially small towns in northern Vermont. It’s a good thing I have family here or I wouldn’t socialize at all. My sister lived here for a year while her husband was deployed and was more plugged into the town since she had kids in school…..but even she couldn’t get any traction with making real friends. I think that unless you, your parents, and your grandparents were born, raised and died in town, you are considered an outsider.

    I love it here but it’s a good things I’m a hermit.

  3. I haven’t had more than one or two really close friends in nearly twenty years. I have incredible writer friends, and I couldn’t live without them, but they’re scattered across the country.

    So what do you do to make local friends? I have no idea. My biggest problem is that I’m not a joiner. I don’t do church or PTA or any other groups. The last time kiddo played sports, all the parents would see me, then sit in the next section over. No idea why they disliked me on sight, but they did.

    I think I agree with your BFF. In a different environment, you’d make friends with no problem. You just have that warm, fun personality. And I bet Richie would blossom too.

  4. Tricia Halliday says:

    California is the place for you. I don’t know about Northern California but Southern California there are so many different people, everyone seems to get on. Very laid back there.

  5. Take a look at Santa Cruz, California, and its immediate environs. It has gorgeous beaches and mountains and a very laid-back attitude on the part of the citizenry, who pride themselves on their eccentricities. The U.C. Santa Cruz mascot is the Mighty Banana Slugβ€”and they don’t have a college football team β€˜cause they’re more into Slug Aquatics. Santa Cruz also has one of the best beach boardwalks in the world, with an old-fashioned wooden roller coaster and salt water taffy made right on the premises.

  6. Lucy says:

    Look at Port Angeles, Washington. It isn’t as rainy/cloudy as Seattle and the people are the most friendly, funky and inclusive of anywhere we visit. Half of my family from all of the country has moved there in the last 15 years.

  7. Jill says:

    Don’t come to Missouri. I moved here 42 years ago . Joe’s family is here and that helped a lot but I had never encountered religious prejudice before-I am Catholic. And I missed cutural diversity-WASPS only. Things are ok now and I love where I am.

    we moved here from Lakewood, NJ where we had been for 2 years. Friendly neighbors, I learned to play Mah Jong. Beautiful city. Check it out is your search for a new place.

  8. MC says:

    When you find that place, can you let me know? My husband is former military and we do not fit at all in our banker, financial services driven town in CT where we live (in what I jokingly refer to as the ghetto) because my parents are here. We didn’t fit well with the military people because we were not ‘hard core.’ I didn’t fit here where I grew up here, but I came back to be close to my parents as they age. I feel uncomfortable with a lot of other parents because of my special needs kids who are social outcasts in their own right. My brother and sister in law live here, but they have their own circle of banker friends, and we don’t fit in. They sort of view my husband as an oddity to be studied or analyzed, rather than befriended. We did ok in Florida before my kids’ needs were more evident, and we had a good neighborhood of people in Virginia.
    Maybe it’s New England? Pretty, but cold literally and socially. Don’t move to Connecticut.

  9. Kieran says:

    When I think of Richie, I think how much he’d fit in here in the South with his love of music and wood-working. He’d do so well here. And you, too, Krissie. Could you please reconsider that “we don’t like the heat” thing? There are huge ways around that, honestly. You could wander around town or country here and be your crazy fun self and no one would care–everyone would love it, as a matter of fact!!!

  10. “I just accept the fact that some people find me hard to deal with.”
    You realize that in our friendship, people think of you as the nice one? Nobody finds you hard to deal with, people are always delighted to see you. Also, anybody who would end a friendship over a song is no friend. Jesus.
    You know where people are friendly? New Jersey. I’m just saying . . .

  11. Sorry, but Santa Cruz would be insane. Housing there is so expensive. I paid $1600/month for a house that should have been condemned — seriously, mold, termites, windows that woudn’t close. There was an extension cord to a pump under the house running through my bedroom window. And when I moved out, probably 20 people submitted applications to get the house because it was such a good deal, extension cord and all. And if you’re not into sports, camping, or affiliated with the university, it’s really tough to find friends. (Or it was for me, anyway.)

  12. Maybe look at the RWA chapters as a starting place? I’m sure you’d be a welcome addition to any of them, but you could also just chat a little with a member of the group, say you’re thinking of moving to the area, ask what’s the group like, what the meetings are like, etc.. Then check meet-up for some woodworking groups.

    From the way you describe yourself, Vermont sounds like about the worst fit imaginable. But my aunt in New Jersey would love you. She’s over-the-top with a heart of gold herself. She gives people hug cards when she meets them (this card good for one hug, redeemable from any participating human being) and yes, she does want to be hugged in exchange for it. I love her dearly, but in small doses. Oh, and her daughter moved to Vermont! Ha, funny coincidence. But true story, I promise.

    Rural PA is going to have some of the same problems as VT, I suspect. There’s a definite “either you’ve been here forever or you’re an outsider” vibe. But maybe a little farther south and closer to the coast would be good? And certainly upstate NY doesn’t have any of that atmosphere. I spent a lot of time in suburbs of Syracuse as a kid. My mom called them the homes of the corporate gypsies. I’m not sure you’d want to live in that kind of development, but people definitely made friends fast. Nobody ever seemed to live there longer than a couple of years so we sorta had to.

    I know Richie needs friends, too, but between a) moving to a place where neither of you know anyone nearby and you’re both equally in need and b) moving to a place where you have close friends and are happy and able to give him more support in making friends, choice b sounds like a more optimal allocation of resources to me. Emotional resources, I mean. πŸ™‚

  13. It is hard to make friends in Seattle. I lived here previously for 22 years and had basically 4 friends. Part of it seems to be me, because I saw lots of people making lasting friendships at various jobs, even when we were all working short-term dot-com jobs (because the dot-coms didn’t last that long). But lots of the people moving in find this to be a problem. At least this time I know that coming into it and it’s more close friends than I had in Oregon and Houston combined. Plus, I have my extended online group of friends, which makes a world of difference.

    I’d love to meet other writers in the area: I imagine that for the most part they’d be accepting. But not sure how to arrange that. πŸ™‚

    Good luck to you and Richie on finding the right place to call home.

  14. toni says:

    I agree with Jenny. People who would end an friendship over you playing a song need a swift kick in the ass, and frankly, aren’t even worth the effort of doing so.

    I also agree with Jenny about NJ. I’ve got friends who lived there for many years and absolutely loved it, and they’re wonderfully unique creative types.

    I also know New Orleans isn’t an option for you (the heat), but what you’re describing is how I felt about Baton Rouge, and then, moving here to N’awlins was like coming home. For once, we are not the craziest people on the block. We were *always* the craziest people on the block, wherever we lived in Baton Rouge. My husband made a “time machine” out of a salon hair dryer:

    When we first came here, it was for a job, and only for a job, and I thought it was going to be a place where everyone partied and did the nightlife thing and that was so not us. But we found a solid community here in the Quarter, and people who’ve lived here their whole lives embrace us as if we have, too. I love this place.

  15. I spent fifteen years on the West Coast and I wouldn’t think so at all. Midwest, except for the non-drinking, Florida, except for the heat. Mid-Atlantic, around New York — larger than life, hearts of gold, not easily offended! — sounds like the best fit to me. Or maybe a cooler (in the literal sense) state than Florida.

    That said, I will sell my own state a little — Florida’s got areas that are incredibly inexpensive, no state income tax, people from all over the country so a lot of diversity, plenty of larger than life characters, and IME reasonably priced health insurance for the self-employed. I don’t know if that’s an issue for you, but it’s one of the reasons I’m not in NY or PA. Its also a great place to come for six months out of the year.

  16. When I moved here 8 years ago, I made book club friends, gym friends, but no real close friends other than one who wanted to take over my entire day so I had to cut her off. Completely. *shudder* Then two budding friends got terminal illnesses. One died, and one withdrew into her own family.

    Friendships are difficult to make at any stage of life, and in any part of the country. It’s a two way street. I tend to close myself off too much to write, and then when I need company rely on internet writer buddies and phone calls. Not nearly as good as a real life huggable person, but you have to do what you can. Total isolation is worse. Books are my friends. ; )

  17. Check for writer’s groups. I had a friend who tried one in Seattle. He said they were great, but the drive was too long for him. (He lived on the coast, out by Whidbey, not in the city.)

    My experience of Seattle is also that people are friendly but reserved. They’ll smile at you on the street, but it’s tough to get past the casual hello into a real friendship.

  18. Susanne says:

    I’m Canadian so I can’t give any suggestions, but all the comments are quite rivetting.

    Does Richie make friends easily?

    Wherever you move, you should consider theatre groups. You seemed to thrive when you were in your last production.

  19. Kieran says:

    Actually, Jersey is a great place, and they ARE friendly. I think it’s because it’s a big melting pot and they’re bad asses because they have Bruce Springsteen and are fed up with being compared to New Yorkers.

    This sounds SO bad, but I’ve found in my lifetime that you find happy people among: 1) non-WASPS. It was so easy (for me) in the Catholic Church to get along and have fun because there were so many ethnicities represented and most of them were your average middle class folks. I’m in the “frozen chosen” Episcopal Church now, and my own parish is super friendly, but overall, rich WASPS aren’t the most inclusive types of people–unless you’re People Like Us, you’re not included terribly much; and you also find happy people in 2) sunny climes.

    People who live in sunny climates are just happier. Life’s a party. I’m serious. I find the more North I go, the more people close themselves off because it’s so damned cold outside.

    Okay, now everyone hate me for being a prejudiced, ignorant beeyotch. I’m sorry. I try to be enlightened and not make generalizations. Today I failed.

  20. I’ve lived in Vermont for 17 years (except for 9 months when we moved back to Santa Cruz to be near my mom. I couldn’t take the way people honked all the time and the cost of living was out of this world.).

    So I’ve lived in Vermont for 17 years and I have 2 friends. Lots and lots of people I know and who know me. People i talk to on the street, or at a party. But friends? Just two.

    This time of year gets to me. By now Sacramento/Davis/Santa Cruz are knee deep in flowers and are warm and beautiful. It’s green here, and that’s lovely but I miss the months of flowers and birds we used to get when I was a child.

    My two friends here are steadfast and stand with me even though it’s taking me years to divorce the husband they hate. But it does seem a little skimpy to only have two friends after all these years.

  21. Caryn says:

    Port Angeles is nice, but very dark (clouds pile up from sea level to the top of the hills 8,000′ high) in winter. And it takes nearly three hours to get to Seattle or Victoria. I lived in Port Angeles for ten years, admittedly back in the 70s. Great community college, decent library, and scads of tourists all summer. If you like small towns, it’s nice. (I don’t.)

    Port Townsend is closer to many things and had more sunshine. Some writers live there, too. Last I heard Elizabeth Anne Scarborough, among others.

  22. heather says:

    We’ve lived near Ann Arbor for the last 9 years. I love it, but we’re definitely not “insiders” here. If I could go back to Madison, though, I would in a heartbeat. The towns seem similar on the surface, but my Birkenstocks fit in a lot better in Madison, you know? Plus there are the lakes and the parks and and and…

    We’re moving for work reasons this summer — to the Chicago ‘burbs — and I’m actually pretty psyched about starting over somewhere new. And while we have some control over where we land, I think what I’ve learned from living in 4 states in the last 20 years is that wherever you end up, it’s never quite what you expect. Sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s worse. It’s rarely awful. Perfection is impossible. Go for the big things on your list, and the rest will work out.

  23. Danielle says:

    Well, I’m a Canadian too (and I’ve never even been to the States), so my suggestions are useless to you.

    However, I wanted to tell you: the way you describe your inability to fit in is a perfect mirror-image of what I went through in Quebec City (just north of you…just sayin’). Montreal? Awesome and folksy and crazy and wild and artsy and crazy and loud. Quebec City? Not so much.

    I hated it (and, by the way, when you describe your personality, you could be talking about me) and promptly left. Still, it took me a while to realize that it wasn’t ME, it was the place. Now, I live in PEI and I totally LOVE IT. I don’t have a ton of friends (this is a small place, after all), but those I have are great. There are old hippies, young hippies, farmers, artists, you name it. People are nice and, best of all, accepting.

    I’m getting together with a group of 60-something hippies tomorrow for a day of gardening, dog walking on the beach and a lobster feed. They’re all older than my parents, but we get along “like a house on fire”.

    Go and find your group, Krissie!

  24. merry says:

    I just got back from visiting friends who live in Sackets Harbor NY. I didn’t want to leave. It’s beautiful, right on Lake Ontario. I’d thought winters would be terrible, but they pay a man $10 to plow their driveway and shovel there walk, and they only needed to do it 4 times this past winter. They said there were perhaps 2 or 3 days when they didn’t care to drive, but that was it. The roads are so well kept in winter. It’s an hour from Syracuse and 10 minutes from Watertown. No taxes on Social Security and big breaks for those over 65. This past week-end there was a village wide yard sale and the library sold books and cooked hot dogs on their lawn. Everyone I met was so friendly. There are wonderful restaurants and brew houses, a market, a bakery/coffe house, and a new Family Practice clinic just opened. Check it out on the Sackets Harbor web site. It’s exactly the way it’s portrayed. There are 4 distinct seasons and each one is beautiful. I’m in love.
    P.S. Where ever I end up, If I could have you for a neighbor, I’d be so happy.

  25. I’m pretty much a hermit — the hubby was the gregarious one, he made friends with everybody, wherever he went — so I can’t really speak to how easy it is to make friends in Albuquerque. But it’s such a diverse population — half the people here are from elsewhere — that if there’s any kind of entrenched mindset, I’m certainly not aware of it. Having lived in NY before here, I’m still not quite used to the expectation that, if you’re out for a walk, people will say hi. And you’ll be expected to respond.

    I think there’s very much a come-as-you-are, be-who-you-are attitude out here. Prejudices still exist, sure, but they’re not the RULE. And did I mention the sky?

    About the only thing we’re missing, I think, is IKEA. πŸ˜‰

  26. Dnelle says:

    I think your perception of your personality has more to do with your environs than actuality. You’d do great in California. Try looking around Monterey, Atascedero, ans San Luis Obispo. There are some really great little towns in that area, and if you go a little inland the land is pretty cheap. Monterey has a lot of music fetivals and art is a big draw too. If you look at the offerings at the community colleges around there you’ll find a lot of art and creative classes, and on Wikipedia the crime rate is listed and it’s low. I like to look at the local papers to see what’s going on. Also look at a little town called Harmony. It’s in the same area, very small and artistic. has lots of land around there.

  27. I grew up in the north, then moved south when I was 22. I’ve heard that “People aren’t as nice up north” thing forever, and have come to a conclusion.

    It’s not a matter of who is nice or not nice. I lived in a small town in the south and there was always the feeling that I was an outsider, so that’s everywhere.

    The difference in my experience is how much people want to be in your business. They’re not any less nice up north, they just don’t feel the need to be all up in your business.

    Total opposite in the south. Upon first meeting they want to know if you have a church and where you’re from and what you do and who you know and what you like and every other thing about you. Took some major getting used to.

    When I went to work at a small town radio station in the south, the sales manager came into my office the first week, looked at his watch and said, “You’ve got two minutes. Tell me everything about yourself.” I asked him why I would do that. He said every customer he’d seen that week wanted to know about the new girl in the office. I told him to say I was none of their business.

    And then got the, “You haven’t been in the south long, have you?”

  28. merry says:

    I forgot to mention. Watertown is not a huge city, but they have TJ Maxx, Panera, Target, a mall, movie theater, parks, and even a little zoo.

  29. Theresa says:

    Take a look at in the cities you are considering and see what groups are there that Ritchie and/or you might want to try for a while. Seriously, there are meetup groups out there for just about every interest.

  30. Carol says:

    If I could handle the winters, DH and I would be in PEI in a heartbeat. He’s from there – the family goes back to the Selkirk Settlers – and we just fit. But I can’t do winters like that… πŸ™

  31. Kathleen G. S. says:

    Was it really about the song? Surely the story is bigger than that. Perhaps the person felt that her own taste was being disrespected. Perhaps she felt that you were forcing the song on her because it was important to you and your writing, not because it was important to the relationship between the two of you. I would get weary of that after a while.

  32. Jessie says:

    Ok. As a native to the Pacific NW we try to be nice but we are not particularly open to new friendships. But some areas are friendlier than other. I think the problem is that most of us already have as much of a social group as we can handle. For most of my life, I have lived within 200 miles of the town I was born into and grew up in. My husband the same. We have lived long term in Richland Washington, Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon and Richland was the only one where we didn’t have existing family and social groups. And as it turns out, Richland was the friendliest. Most people stayed 3 to 5 years because the jobs were great on your resume and were great jobs overall. But unless you had children or family who lived there, you were in your car every weekend heading out to the mountains or the city. So there was a lot of turn-over in friendships because no one stayed very long.

    Which leads me to believe that the friendliest places are those that experience a lot of turn over, which are usually not small, settled towns. If you have something that makes you stand out (fame, fortune or talent, i.e., the suck-up factor), you are more likely to make friends in those places.

    My sister raved about the friends they made in the winter as snow-birds in the south. Everybody had left family and friends back in the snow. However, I noticed that when they were north again in the off-season, they did not keep up with those new friends. So they were seasonal friendships that died when ill-health necessitated live close to the family again.

    Retirement locales, towns with military (those guys are on the move all the time so they have to make friends fast) and small university towns might be good bets. They all have population turn-over. Given your interests, you should probably be looking for the university towns. Many of the military towns seem to have a conservative bent while many of the university towns are liberal leaning.

    And another factor, when we were in Richland is that we lived on a cup-de-sac in a new development. So everybody was new. A settled neighborhood might be a different story.

  33. I agree with your BFF because you’re obviously fun and full of energy. If I understand correctly, you’re not necessarily looking for confidantes, you’re looking for social friends and that should be easy peasy for you and Richie wherever you move. I think new confidantes you can trust are more difficult to find but you already have your sisters and BFFs. All the bad stuff from your current place will just fall away when you move and you’ll enjoy meeting new people.

  34. A friend of mine and I were talking about the challenge of making friends at midlife and beyond–I hear people talking about this all the time. It might have to do with environments, but I think there are fewer opportunities, too. You have to actively pursue a social life with people of like minds–spiritually, creatively, whatever. Sounds like there are not enough people in your town to play with.

  35. Gee, Krissie, what you say you want is at our lake in Indiana! Husband has never been one to make friends easily–he’s very shy. When we got our lake place, the folks just took us into their little circle and now neither of us can imagine life without these dear folks. He’s close friends with all the guys, which is a new experience for him. We spend every weekend there from end of April to first of November, with some other days sprinkled in. The town is so friendly and the folks are good people. We live in the city because Husband is still not retired yet, but we’re working toward it. It’s the Midwest (Indiana), so we don’t have extremes of weather and there’s a college town right near the lake (Purdue), so there’s lots to do and see and the cost of living in Indiana isn’t very high. IN RWA is a nice group of folks, too…plus, I’d be here and I’d love to have you for a neighbor!

  36. I was thinking the same thing Tricia. I love Krissie and for out here, she’s not outre, loud or brash. We love those kind of people. Or at least I do.

  37. “Friendships are difficult to make at any stage of life, and in any part of the country. It’s a two way street.”

    I was thinking the same thing Robena.

  38. Okay, I am fifty and I make friends all of the time. Some end up closer than others but I have many friends. I have friends from grade school, junior high, high school, college – although interestingly none from my first college, various work/offices, from when I lived in San Diego and now from when I am in Pasadena.

    I always think that I am not a joiner – don’t laugh Robena – and then am always surprised by how hooked in I am to every group I do join.

    Life is what you make of it, but your town sounds like the horrible places that I’d never live. I visited a friend for 10 days in a small, small town (pop 300) in the Miami Valley in OH. I had a wonderful visit. I’d visit again. I would NEVER, EVER, EVER live in that place. The people are nice on the outside, but hold grudges for 20+ years. They still use the “N” word and only apologize because of the look on my face. I would have NO friends if I lived in that town because there is something evil about people who cannot forgive trespasses.

    So, I am just going to say it. You should move close to Jenny or Lani. Live near people you love. No matter where you live, if there’s no one there that you love, if there’s no one there that you would lay your life down for, then what’s the point of living there?

    I love CA and Los Angeles in particular because it is filled with people whom I love. My mother, my aunt, my sister, my younger brother, many of my best friends, my niece and nephew and more. The weather, the taxes, the cost of living, all of that is bullshit. Live near the people you love and who love you. Move to be near Jenny or Lani. The rest of it will all work out.

  39. Oh and I forgot to say, that while the song, Closer by Nine Inch Nails, is disturbing, the video is way worse. However, I like that you like it. I don’t like it, but there’s something intriguing to me that you like that song. It makes me want to get to know you better.

    I can’t stand only knowing people like me. I want friends to be different from me. Oh, and I am friends with several people from that small Ohio town. I love them all and they put up with me for calling them on their grudge holding mean girl bullshit.

  40. I say get a big RV and drive around the country until you find where you’re meant to land. You’ll meet lots of people, they’ll be dazzled by you and you’ll have great adventures.

  41. Micki says:

    My idea of utopia would be finding like-minded friends on an internet community, and we’d all move to a place about 30 miles from “the big city.” We’d all be at least 10 miles from each other. We’d get together three or four times a year as a group, and then people could be as social as they wanted on an individual basis.

    The “big city” would have arts, a college, a fantastic library, and a cheap place to rent for write-ins, artistic salons, BBQs . . . .

    I’ve discovered I’m a social loner — I love being in a social situation, but I need a long time to charge my batteries between times.

  42. Micki says:

    I’m kind of used to making community inside a greater community, so as long as there’s reasonable weather and some arts, I think I’m fine. (-: I’d have to convince half a dozen of my best friends to come with me, I guess.

  43. Micki says:

    LOL, Toni, I would like to invite you to live in my Utopia . . . or at least let your husband be the designer of our Utopian Hair Salon. This is sooooo great!

  44. Deborah Blake says:

    I’m with the folks who said move near Jenny or Lani. You’ve already got one built-in friend already!

    If not, try Oneonta, NY. It’s a nice size (about 10K people, except when the 2 colleges are in session, when it about doubles). Cost of living isn’t terrible, the area is beautiful (and if you can take the VT winters, you can take ours). Because of the colleges, and two large hospitals, there are plenty of culture-minded intelligent folks, but there are also plenty of funky oddballs too. (As well as a bunch of rural gun-toting Republicans, but you can’t have everything.) We’re an hour and a half from Albany, half an hour from Cooperstown, and about 3 hours from Syracuse. And I would be happy to let you move next door, no matter what music you played πŸ™‚

  45. jinx says:

    The thing is, you can make friends pretty easily when you’re living in a college dorm or a boarding school, or someplace similar where everybody is starting from scratch and everyone is the same general age. And you can make friends pretty easily when you’re a young parent living in a young neighborhood, because you’re in the same boat, your kids meet new people, they have activities, you all have similar pets, lawns, grocery store tales, etc.

    But it’s hard when you’re older and you’re moving anywhere established. Then geography, stage in life, common musical tastes or whatever don’t do shit for your social life, because people are in pretty fixed orbits.

    I’m in the stay close to Jenny & Lani camp, rather than trying Florida or California or Manitoba or wherever, just because the scenery is cool. Because when it comes to NEW friends, you’ll most likely make them by actively getting yourselves up and DOING stuff that you like to do, with the kind of people who like to do similar stuff.

    And the chances of finding likeminded individuals or neighbors by accident will be kind of random.

    So, my rules for relocation would be:

    (1) handy to your sisters;
    (2) lower cost of living;
    (3) tolerable weather — not PERFECT weather, because that would be, face it, Santa Barbara or New Zealand or the Channel islands — all expensive and all far from #1 above;
    (4) tolerable political/religious/sociological environs, all depending on what you’ve discovered over the years that YOU find tolerable; and
    (5) PROVEN existence of groups or institutions that are likely places for both you and Richie to join with other people and DO stuff.

    So, a Little Theater scene or writing communities or similar for you. A solid bluegrass club and/or woodworking community for Richie. And adequate access to the kinds of sources or shopping spots where you can find lumber, architectural salvage, yarn, books, or any other commodities that you need and want to pick up and look at physically before you buy it.

    After that, the scenery & stuff is all gravy, I think.

  46. Kelly S. says:

    Oh, that would so annoy me. Yup from the “North” (really Midwest) I am. I will say that the winter hibernation does happen some, but you are still forced to go outside for work, school, groceries, etc. and there are those who enjoy the cold and snow (crazies or kids). Of course, I’m an introverted homebody with very few friends after 7 years in MI. I blame a fair bit of that on being middle aged without kids. Few couples around here in there 30’s & 40’s don’t have kids.

  47. Kelly S. says:

    I lived in the NW suburbs of Chicago for nearly 17 years. Schaumburg has a fabulous library as does Arlington Heights. Schaumburg has a great tax base because of Woodfield mall and other shopping & businesses. Rolling Meadows had no meadows but was a nice city.

    I will also say if you need to commute into Chicago, then try to avoid living on “wrong” side of the tracks which is the opposite side of the tracks from the parking lot. One day I was at least 6 minutes before my train, plenty of time to pull in, park & walk to the platform, but noooo. Three trains came and went and prevented me from crossing the tracks so I could go and park. Missed my train as the doors closed as I was running to hop on. Fifteen seconds late to get on the train = 30 minutes late to work.

  48. Hey Nan–we’re practically neighbors. πŸ™‚ I’m in Carmel. I was really nervous about moving here–it’s got a pretty conservative reputation and I’m… well… not. However, we got here and found a homeschool group of families that ran the gamut from Pagan, to Unitarian, to Pastafarian, to Catholic and conservative Baptist. They didn’t even blink at the “new people” they just grabbed a kid close to my kids in age, said “go introduce them to everyone” and then proceeded to let me just BE until I felt comfortable enough to be friendly. Then the training wheels came off and there were some *really* surprised looks. πŸ™‚

    I’ve never fit anywhere like I fit here–even when I open my big Aspie mouth and say things that are completely inappropriate. There aren’t any mountains, Krissie, but you could definitely do worse.

  49. Redwood Kim says:

    Well, I live in Santa Cruz, and I’m going to split the middle of the comments. You can’t beat the scenery or the weather here. I live in the mountains (ok, not huge ones, but I’ve got a redwood grove in my backyard, and tons of woodland critters hangng around) and I’m 10 minutes from the beach. I love it here. It’s a small county, and I’m constantly running into people I know. To me, it has a small town feel, without the gossip. You can dress in designer clothes or dreadlocks and tie dye. For me, it’s the friendliest, most community-oriented place I’ve ever lived.
    But yes, it is enormously expensive, and decent housing is hard to come by. My house is 1500sqft., and it was the biggest house in my bunko group for a lot of years. So as much fun as it would be to have you here, Krissie, I can’t really recommend it for you.

    But would you fit in? Hell, yes.

  50. queenofstoneage says:

    New York City. Everyone fits in here and I speak to this as an expat New Englander. All boroughs are good but Brooklyn is best. You lived here once and it’s close to New Jersey.

  51. Redwood Kim says:

    It’s interesting to me how many times Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay Area has come up in this discussion. I’ve been here ten years, but I grew up just over the hill in San Jose, and I’ve never lived anywhere else (travelled, yes.) So many of you seem to have spent time here!
    I’m with the “stay close to Jenny or Lani” team. You’ve had aall the geographic necessities for a while, but my lord, that social scene sounds stifling. Find somehwere with an active, accessible community theater, and dive in. You don’t have to be in their back pockets, but close enough to hang out without dreading the drive, yes?

  52. Rozasharn says:

    Seconding everyone who advised you to stay within reasonable visiting distance of your sister-goddesses. That means New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, maybe Maryland or Delaware.

    Figure out what kind of landscape qualifies as “mountains” to you.

    Near the big cities and anywhere remotely in commute-distance of Washington DC will be expensive. Probably NY-PA-NJ is your best bet. Binghamton is economically depressed and very cheap; don’t know if it would have the other things you’re looking for.

    Willimantic, CT is economically depressed and a college town. But all they have is hills.

    Medium-size cities will have amenities; what kind of amenities do you want? Have you thought about mobility issues, as you age?

    It sounds like your current town is unusually bad for socializing. I’m from CT and I live in MA, and anywhere I’ve ever been, you could make plenty of friends just from joining the local quilt groups. They are your kind of people.

  53. Hi there, neighbor! I was just in Carmel today on my way to Noblesville. IN isn’t nearly as conservative and backward as people seem to think, is it? We need to have a midwest ReFab convo and invite Krissie to give us a try. Krissie–I have a guest room in both places–come on out, why don’t you? Tamsin and I can make you feel right at home πŸ˜‰

    PS: Tamsin, I’m headed to Amazon to check out your book!

  54. Hmmmm…I kinda like that idea, too…what would Richie think about banging around the country in an RV, Krissie?

  55. Jen Wyatt says:

    When you said, “non-competitive creatives”, that really rang a bell with me.
    I totally get the Nine Inch Nails thing. Reminds me of the Ice series of yours…my favorites!

  56. Cath G says:

    I’ve spent many weeks in Madison while approving press runs. It is the only place where I instantly felt at home. The have the best used bookstores n the country (my opinion), UW Madison, lakes everywhere, and really nice restaurants. Housing costs are reasonable. The people are so friendly and polite. It was a glimpse into another world away from the general “I don’t give a sh**” that has invaded all of NYC. They get lots of snow, but handle it better than in NY. Try visiting, you may like it there.

  57. Cath G says:

    But I also agree with Heather – go for the big things on your list and the rest will work ut.

  58. I have few close friends who know where all my bodies are buried.

    Then I have the extended group. Some of whom could hear NiN and some who I would never even EVER think to play it to. They are different pockets of people who meet different social needs. The thing is, they all know about my “other sides.” So I’m not pretending to be different in different groups.

  59. I agree – the south is a great option for you and there are levels of heat. You could live in the western part of NC and be closer to the mountains which wouldn’t be as hot as the coast. Mid-Atlantic? I have friends who live in West Virginia and love it – a more southern vibe and very low cost of living.

    Not to mention closer to New Jersey than California πŸ™‚

  60. Nicole Goldstein says:

    It’s Vermont – I lived there, too. Try to find yourself a larger town, preferably with a university in it. I’d think Colorado or Cali.

  61. G and T says:

    When I was a child, we had moved three times by the time I was, and ended up in Boston. As a nice WASP, I realized my otherness as soon as I went to school and everyone was Catholic! However, they didn’t hold my religion or the fact that my parents were conservative Republicans against me, but I never felt I had a home town in the way that they did. I lived in Boston the longest I have lived anywhere, the second-longest was Wyoming. (In between was New Hampshire and upstate New York.) Aside from the no hometown thing, I worked as a reporter, where you have to keep an arm’s length distance from the people you meet on the job, so I have always had a sense of otherness. When Facebook came along I was able to reconnect with former colleagues, former sources, high school and college friends, and I think that is my community.

    One of my friends, a fellow reporter, said to me once: It’s so funny how you choose who will be your friend!

    And I guess I do choose because I see no point in spending time with people who annoy me. I did that enough at work.

    That same friend was the one who lamented, in the years her husband was in grad school in Missoula, that she hadn’t met anyone like me to have coffee with.

    Now I live in Maine, and if it weren’t for a college roommate who lives three towns away I probably would have no friends here, but that’s mostly because I haven’t done much to make any. I live in a small town where everyone is about 110, so I am not terribly motivated.

    One important takeaway is that you and Richie seem to be strong unit and that’s great!

    I hate all the trite suggestions for finding friends — join a club! take up a hobby! I have found that friends find you when you both are ready. And that’s OK!

    So, let me say, the taxes and the cost of living in New York state are insane, as is the entrenched bureaucracy. It’s probably the same in NJ, but I come because my sister lives in Morristown (where it’s currently hotter than hell and humid) and I like it here. People are friendly, there’s a lot going on and there are enough people that cliques can’t run or ruin your life!

  62. You’re so sweet! Now I’m nervous. LOL. I hope you like it. If it holds a candle to Rule Number One, I’ll be tickled.

    And yes Krissie, you should come down. If not north of Indy, I’m sure you’d like Bloomington. IU is there, there’s a very open community, and Money Magazine ranked it as one of the best places to retire (15th) last year. Average home price is $160K, highest state income tax is 3.4%. Because of the university there’s a really diverse enthnic experience. They have authentic Thai and Middle Eastern food, a funcitonal Tibetan monastery, a huge farmers’ market, and a population of hippies that are politically active, and yet not overwhelming. Bloomington also has one of the best public libraries in the country, and one of the top 10 rated YMCAs. Nashville’s arts community is only an hour away (lots of painting, pottery and woodworking) and there are tons of woods and lakes for filling your Nature quota.

    Listen to me. *sigh* I sound like a tourism brochure.

  63. Tamsin–so happy you enjoyed RULE NUMBER ONE! I just downloaded Hatchet Job–looking forward to the read. Don’t be nervous–your comments here tells me you’re a writer.

    Ooooh…Bloomie’s a great choice for Krissie! Except that her sisters are in New York and New Jersey…that’s important…

  64. Becky Regan says:

    If upstate NY is a possibility, you might want to consider Ithaca. It’s about an hour south of Syracuse, but gets a little more than half of Syracuse’s snow. And a lot of people simply couldn’t deal with the 120″ of snow that Syracuse gets. And we have glorious summers – average temps in the high 0s or low 80s with only occasional short streches into the 90s. Ithaca is a college town with all that implies (home of both Cornell University and Ithaca College) so we have a big transient population – we’re used to new folks and we like them. Ithaca tends to be one those places people come and then don’t leave; we have a lot of folks who came during the sixties who’ve made a big impact on the local culture. For Richie, there is a biweekly bluegrass jam and a large local community of artisans who sell their stuff at the local farmer’s market. The Finger Lakes are gorgeous – long deep skinny lakes dug out by the glaciers, with lots of hills (but not mountains). We have a lot of vineyards and farms around as well as all the amenities of a college town – lots of local theater groups and music. And you’d be within easy distance of your sisters.

  65. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Thanks for the tip on your book — I just picked it up via Amazon!! Yoohoo!!

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