Paying friendship forward

pictured: some of the very best

Life has a funny way of coming around full circle.

Yesterday marked the four-year anniversary of my very first posts on this very blog, an introductory spiel and a recap of some Friday night buffoonery on my first weekend in Augusta.

While I didn’t need to call a cab to obtain a beer last night, given it’s a mere five-block walk from my apartment, I did end up doing something I’ve become known to do from time to time over the past few years: wax lyrical about the idea of “home.”

I’d sat down at the bar between a few folks I knew, and one of my friends’ new roommate ended up sitting beside me. Over the course of a couple beers and some conversation, we established that the paths that led us to those very seats were actually reasonably similar.

My new pal was also here on a green card, and Denver wasn’t his first stop. With that said, while I’ve progressively made my home cities larger since 2013, he had taken what he saw as a step backwards in moving to the mile high city from Houston.

He’d moved here with a girlfriend, but the relationship had recently ended (hence the “new roommate” dynamic) and he was suddenly feeling like he’s out in the world on his own.

In a response that felt almost hypocritical, considering my relative newness to the neighborhood, I reassured him that as far as any of us were concerned, he’s now got a pile of instant friends in us, in that very Cheers-y way of frequenting an establishment in which everybody knows your name.

Ever since 2014 I’ve been very cognizant of the hurdles of starting afresh in a new city with little to no base of support, social circle or feeling of community. As I wrote back then, I didn’t move to Maine expecting to immediately have a cast of friends to hang out with, but the adjustment and personal settling-in processes did take longer than I anticipated.

Florida was almost totally a bust on that point, for a variety of different reasons, but in the three or so months before I left for Colorado, I began to make closer friends with a couple of coworkers, and life felt like it had slightly more purpose than “pay the bills and try to burn off all that fried chicken.”

When I arrived in Denver in April, my third interstate move in three and a half years, I had already come to terms with the fact that it was going to take me up to 12 months to truly find my feet and my niche in this town, no matter how quickly I felt like it was home (i.e. literally 10 minutes after I arrived at my hotel the first night.)

But, as is so often the case when I make assumptions on how things in my life will turn out, I was incorrect, as I discovered on Thanksgiving.

Months earlier, I’d agreed to pick up the night shift on Turkey Day for some sweet overtime holiday pay. I’d already started seeing Alex, but I figured we’d still be able to have Thanksgiving dinner before I had to head to the office, and in exchange for working that day I’d be off on Christmas.

But as the clock ticked closer to 4:30 p.m. that Thursday, with a belly full of stuffing and green bean casserole, it dawned on me that I really didn’t want to go to work, and it wasn’t just the overwhelming urge to nap that had me feeling that way.

By the time I got to the office, I was miserable. Alex tried to reassure me that it was just one shift and it would be over before I knew it, but the longer I sat at work, the more I started to realize that it was less about being stuck behind the desk and more about being on my own.

My mind raced all the way back to April, when I’d assumed it would take me the better part of a year to make some meaningful friendships, much less a crew of 20 people I wanted to spend Thanksgiving with. So having to leave basically everyone in Denver I knew and loved to go copy-paste some news stories for nine hours, right when the party was getting started, hit me harder than I expected it to.

I managed to shake off the funk, ate the dessert smorgasbord I was given to go, and perked up a bit. And eventually, when 1:30 a.m. rolled around and I punched out, I caught a ride back to the party, where some were still, uh, giving thanks. The reception I got as I walked in the door immediately put any fear of me being “out of sight, out of mind” to rest as people welcomed me back and told me they’d missed me.

Looking back on the past eight months goes on to prove wrong my initial assumption about flying solo. I had a couple dozen folks show up at my birthday party in the park at the start of October. Alex and I went away for a weekend with another couple at a cabin on a lake in the mountains. I’ve been included in groups at concerts and invited to other folks’ birthdays and going-away parties.

I can attribute a lot of this to meeting Alex and being brought into (and embraced by) her social circle. And even if my first year in Denver hadn’t played out like this, I’d still feel the same about wanting to put roots down here.

Regardless of how it happened, I’m incredibly grateful that it did. And I’m sure that played a huge part in wanting to make my friend’s new roommate feel welcomed to the fold.

Life’s better when you can share it with good people, y’know?

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