Conscious Aging: Friendships

Good friendships when you are older are hard to come by, especially if, like me, you are not a joiner. I’ve made a few good friends here in Seattle, and regained a high school friend who is moving back here to be closer to her daughter. And, I have two strong elements of my friendship circle now that were less in play when I was younger. One is the community I’ve formed through the blog. Another is the network of dear and longtime friends I that I travel to see, or who come to Seattle to see me.

I forget sometimes that friendship changes dramatically at various ages, not just the age cohort that I’m in. When I was at Java Bean enjoying my coffee and breakfast sandwich on Thursday, I overheard a conversation at a table just to my left. A young woman was sharing with her breakfast mate the fact that most of her friends are either married or married with babies, while she remains single. There’s now a disconnect between their availability and interests and hers. Few people with young family are eager to arrive at Friday night ready to go out clubbing or dancing or bar hopping into the wee hours.

The disruption in her friendship circle is due to changes in the relationship status of people around her. The disruption when you’re older is that without intentional effort, you don’t stand in a steady stream of new contacts, out of which friendships might be formed.

While I was lingering over coffee and reading the news on my phone and thinking about how people of all ages work to regenerate a social circle, I came across an article about The Villages, a new concept in aging. The Villages reminds me a bit of NORC, naturally-occuring-retirement-communities, which began in Manhattan with efforts to connect longtime residents of high rise apartments and condos with others of similar age and with social services to support people remaining in their homes. The idea is that instead of relocating to a facility where you live among people your age or older, you remain in place and form supportive relationships there. Out of curiosity, I Googled The Villages for my zip code, and there are three nearby serving various neighborhoods in Seattle.

I think it’s an interesting idea, particularly for the social aspects. I’m not likely to follow up at this point — more likely to push myself harder to join one of the hiking groups that abound in our area. But I now know the option is out there.


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