Thursday, February 05, 2015

Ah! Freak Out!

John was just as terrified as you'd expect, to see me with a megaphone.
When John and I first started dating, 4.5 years ago, he used to worry that being in a relationship would isolate us. He said it happened to him in the past, and he was afraid it might happen again. I thought that was strange, because I have never been socially isolated in or out of a relationship before. Maybe it's because when I was younger I worked at bars, restaurants and coffee shops, and they were such social jobs that I have usually been more overwhelmed than isolated. I have also lived in the same town where I attended college since 1991, and so I haven't had to make a completely new group of friends, like John had to do when he moved to Boston.

I have wondered how people made friends when they moved to new cities as an older adult and worked in offices, where they may or may not have things in common with their co-workers. Since I'm not a big bar culture person...Well, I don't mind going to bars, but I hate going later at night, when everyone is drunk and I get tired of bar chat, where no one really has more intimate conversations, than trading drunken witty barbs. Being in my 40's and 50's in a college town and still trying to hang out in the same bars for decades, doesn't appeal to me all that much either. It was especially bad when I was still single. If I met a guy hanging out in a bar later at night, usually he was a guy who liked to hang out in bars often, and that wouldn't work for me. I don't want to waste my weekend days, sleeping or recovering from staying out too late at night. So, if I moved to another city and wasn't into the bar scene, maybe I would feel more socially isolated than I do here...

By the time John and I started dating, my girls were almost out of the house and I had started doing running races here and there. Of course, it's not a lot of fun to hang out afterward by yourself, when you don't know anyone, so I would run and just head home after  my race. I found out two years later that I had won a 2nd place medal for my age group at a race, but didn't stick around to find that out. Now, though, racing with John is such a different beast. We go to races and usually race at different times, so we stick around long enough to meet people. We have discovered a whole community of racing freaks, like ourselves. Sure, some of them are super uptight and all about winning, and I may not have tons in common with everyone, but in general, it is a great group of people, who like to have fun and drink, but they like to play outside all day and get home at the old people hour of 9 o'clock. My people!

The cool thing is, I have met awesome racing folks in Iowa City, but also Des Moines, Omaha, Minneapolis, Chicago and different towns in Wisconsin. So, I guess I answered my own question. If I moved somewhere else now, I would just get into racing wherever I lived and meet my fellow freaks that way.

All of this leads me back to John's fear of us being socially isolated in our relationship...He hasn't mentioned it since. In fact, this weekend we are invited to a rollerskating rink party in Wellman, followed by eating/drinking at the Kalona Brewery on Friday night, CX country skiing with friends on Saturday morning and a cruiser ride around town where we stop at all the dive bars on Saturday afternoon. I'm not sure how much of any of that we'll do,but it's fun to contemplate our options. I know I've said it a million times and it isn't always easy, but I do believe that the key to a happy relationship (besides a lot of hard work and good communication) is to find your fellow freak...And fellow freak friends are the key to a happy life in general.

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