In 2009, as my two boys left home to discover their own lives, I found myself simultaneously single, after a 30-year marriage, and an empty-nester. I experienced some unexpected isolation, loneliness, and uncertainty about how to rebuild the life I had summarily disassembled and must now reconstruct at 50 years of age. Most of my friends were either professional colleagues who lived in every corner of North America... except for my corner... or couples who we had connected with as a family.
As is often the case, I received some sage advice from my "Real Skinny
" friend, Mary Fox, who encouraged me to rekindle and explore personal interests or hobbies. She suggested that it would likely be there, in the pursuit of common interests, I would meet kindred spirits, make new friendships, maybe even find a decent date, and rebuild a sense of local community for myself. Long-denied interests like gardening, learning Spanish, hiking, exotic travel, yoga, kayaking, ethnic cooking, all began compete for my attention, along with ... reading. But how to find the right places, instructors, companions? I know! When all else fails, Google it!
And that is when I found the world of www.MeetUp.com
. Many of you may be familiar with MeetUps (it appears at least 10 million of you are!), but until I joined the Temecula Valley Woman's MeetUp Book Club, I didn't even know it existed. MeetUp.com is a free online program designed to facilitate easy communication between members of local clubs or groups. There are MeetUps created for everything from likeminded dog owners, church groups, professional associations, fitness groups, and book clubs... just to name of few.
It was here I found a small group of incredibly diverse women whose only commonalities were that we lived in the area and loved to read. By the second meeting, I felt as if I had been wrapped in a warm blanket of friendship and acceptance as I found myself eagerly greeted like an old friend. This eclectic, come-as-you-are group of women became, for a brief but important time in my life, a lifeboat on which I would fjord the unknowable passage to the other side of my life. I quickly realized that this "book club" was simply the outward container for a group of woman seeking companionship and community. While we contemplated diverse opinions, respectfully argued individual positions, wrestled with profound questions and expanded our literary and cultural understanding, we also found ourselves getting to know each other on a surprisingly intimate level, tenderly teasing each other, often enjoyed gut-splitting belly-laughs, and supporting each other with hugs as occasionally tears flowed for a variety of reasons.
By March of 2010, I would meet the man of my dreams and start an entirely new chapter in my life, the charming bookstore would sadly close its doors, and the little sisterhood of local book lovers would disband forever. They will never know how meaningful they each were in that season of my life... and neither will Scott Heiferman.
Who is Scott Heiferman
, you ask? And what does all this have to do with "Remembering 9/11?" Well, this morning I found the following email
in my inbox. Who knew?
Who knew that from the ashes and devastation of 9/11 would spring an idea that would unite so many, on so many different levels, for so many different reasons and build such sweet community. Congratulations to Scott Heiferman, CEO of MeetUp.com and many, many thanks for being a force for healing, rebirth, and a perfect example of America's ability to rebound and thrive.
Here's the email, and here's to each of you finding or building for yourself such a community of kindred souls. As Scott said, "It's powerful stuff!"