When I started college, it took me a while to find my groove socially. I spent most of my time with my suitemates, with whom I got along to greater or lesser degrees (sometime remind me to tell some of the tales of the woman who was forever after known to my friends as THE Amanda because she was so infamous). But who I was really looking for was the geeks. There wasn't a gaming or science fiction society on campus, so there didn't seem to be any ready-made groups for tracking down geeks. Aside for an incident of making a bit of a fool of myself trying to make friends with a likely-looking person and instead managing to give him the impression I was romantically interested (I wasn't), I went through my freshman year without really connecting.
Then my sophomore year, someone I had started to make friends with said she wanted to go to an SCA meeting. I had seen ads for their dance practices the previous year but didn't think much about them. But I thought this time that it sounded interesting, so I went along. And immediately it became clear that this was where the geeks were hiding. I had found My People. Anyone who knows anything about the SCA would immediately think "Duh," but remember, this was pre-Web days, and that sort of information wasn't as easy to come by. But with the wisdom of hindsight, I often wonder how different my freshman year would have been if I just gone to a dance practice. As it is. I met both my husband and my best friend through that SCA group, so I can't complain much.
Fast forward thirteen years, when we move to Philadelphia and abruptly leap from a very active social life to almost total social isolation. There I was, alone with a toddler all day for the first time in six months, completely alone in a new city. And then my father died! It was SUCH a happy time, I can't even tell you. Anyway, we looked at a lot of possibilities for meeting people, but the combination of weird work schedules and having a small child made everything seem impossible. Or we would do things like go to a gaming group, only to discover that they only played board games and actively looked down on roleplayers, the people we were actually looking for. I wanted to meet other parents, but didn't want to just sign up for a random playgroup because I really wanted to find someone I more things in common with than just children. I wanted to find geek parents.
In three years, things have improved but I certainly wouldn't call us social butterflies. More like social three-toed sloths, possibly with bad breath. And then, last Saturday, we went to a newcomer's event held by our local SCA. I think you can see where this is going, can't you? There they were. People with the same interests we have, who also have small children. K happily tore around with other kids while we sat and enjoyed geeky conversations, and got a possible in with a roleplaying group. Sunday, we went to a regularly-scheduled archery practice at the Baron and Baroness' house. They have an almost three-year-old and were delighted to find that B plays recorder and I sing. We're probably going to get together for dinner soon. From socially adrift to Bam! Instant social life, in two days.
We keep looking at each other and wondering why we didn't do this three years ago. There were a bunch of reasons - things like dancing and fencing were on nights we couldn't go, we weren't sure what to do with K because we didn't know if there would be other kids around, all of the activities were on the other side of the city, the newcomer events were always on days we couldn't go... And of course, the fact that my father died and I felt massively ill for most of my pregnancy did a lot to make it hard to put myself out there for large chunks of the past couple years. But last weekend, we could go, and a bunch of activities have moved closer to our side of the city, and we decided that we would go anyway even if we couldn't fence or dance. And I'm so glad we did.