By Lisa Sugarman
I’ve lived in my hometown almost all my life. And since it’s barely four square miles around and surrounded by water on three of its sides, it makes for a pretty cozy place.
I’m also very fortunate. With so many years under my belt in the same community, I’ve stockpiled a pretty broad cross section of friends. And I’ll be the first to say, it’s a beautiful feeling knowing your roots run deep where you live and that you’re never really alone.
Wherever I go, I’ve almost always got people I feel comfortable with around me. Either it’s a good friend or it’s someone I went to school with or worked with or sang One Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall with on the camp bus (times were looser, it was the 70s). And for me, that feeling of connectedness has become like a security blanket. Because even though I may not have close relationships with everyone I know, there’s always this sense of familiarity wherever I am. And I happen to love that.
But plenty of people here—everywhere for that matter—are from somewhere else altogether. More people have relocated than most of us realize—for work or school or a relationship—and are trying desperately to grow new root systems in places where the soil has a very different consistency than what they’re used to. And because of that, new relationships often take a while to fully germinate.
The reason I’m bringing this up is because I met a woman recently who is exactly that person and she confided in me that even though her family has been here for a while now, it’s taking a long time for them to feel comfortable living here.
We talked about cliques—both among adults and kids—and how hard it is to break into them and feel like you belong. I assured her that like-minded people are out there, and that there’s this invisible gravitational pull that eventually draws those people together.
I told her I know this because there was a time in the Sugarman family history, when our kids were very little, when we moved away. Far away. To a place where we were virtually all alone and completely intimidated by the fact that we knew practically no one.
I reminded her that transplantation takes work. And risk. And a pretty decent amount of blind faith. I also told her that every one of us will be building new relationships for the rest of our lives. And that even though it seems like certain social groups are impenetrable, relationships are constantly in flux, as much when you’re a kid as when you’re an adult.
I mean, how many times as a kid were you friends with someone at one point, then things changed and you weren’t, then things changed again and you were? Or, once you got to high school, you unexpectedly became friends with a girl in the cool crowd because you ended up sitting next to her in your physics class. That’s the stuff I marvel at—the unpredictability of relationships.
Well the same thing happens when you’re an adult. We assume we can’t develop meaningful, deep connections with people who already have what looks like their quota of deep meaningful relationships. Then, without warning, we meet our next best friend in a Mom-and-Me playgroup or at a spin class or at the park with our dog.
And that’s the funny thing, people don’t realize that we’re wired with an almost unlimited capacity for making connections. Think of it like this, the human spirit is like a power strip that you buy at the office supply store. Only the one we’re all hardwired with has an unlimited number of ports to plug things into. And that’s what I think people sometimes forget.
See, a lot of these ports stay vacant for a long time and are only filled at certain points in our life. Because, as I say often, there’s a time and a place for everything—especially relationships. And people have the uncanny tendency to come into our lives at exactly the points when we need them the most. When we head off to college, alone in life for the first time. When we get a new job and relocate to a new city. When we retire and move to Florida. We’re constantly being transplanted and having to start again.
So, to those of you who haven’t made all the connections yet that you want to make, you will. Because even though breaking into new circles sometimes seems impossible, it does happen. All the time. And new relationships can be just as meaningful as old ones.
The bottom line is that transplants aren’t easy. They’re often painful and debilitating and take a lot of recovery time. You just have to remember that, after a while, a successful transplant usually leads to a whole new life.