Friday, April 2, 2010

I've Gotchyer Back

I was thinking last week about how nice it is to have a company that I know will handle any electrical or plumbing problems I may have.  Now that they've been over a few times, I'm comfortable that they'll come over and fix stuff, and I don't even need to be home. It got me to thinking about the larger question - who's got my back?  In the 12 years since my divorce and the absence of a partner, that's been an important thing for me to figure out.

Whenever I move to a new place, it takes a while to build up the set of folks that "have my back." A car repair shop.  A dentist.  A hairdresser.  If I own instead of rent, the list gets bigger - an electrician, a plumber, a handyman.  Now that I'm trying to start an agricultural company, there's an accountant, and an attorney to be found.  I'm doing pretty well so far - I've got most of the necessities covered.  And it only took a year and a half!

There are other things that are less easy to find in a new place.  Less predictable.  Good neighbors.  Good friends.  The person to call if the car gets stuck or breaks down.  The person who would take care of the animals if I wanted to take a weekend off.  I'm still working on those.

Even further, David Brooks wrote in Monday's NYT about the Sandra Bullock tradeoff (would you accept an Oscar for best actress if it meant finding out that your husband was an adulterous jerk?) -

The daily activities most associated with happiness are sex, socializing after work and having dinner with others. The daily activity most injurious to happiness is commuting.

On that scale I'm 0 for 3 on the activities associated with happiness and 1 for 1 on things injurious to happiness.  The happy activities though, depend on finding that support network that doesn't come easy or fast, or without a significant investment of time and energy. That's one of the hardest things about starting over in a new place, even years into it.  I've never been the type of person to make many friends quickly.  My modus operandi is to have a few, close friends, and I can number those on two hands through my life so far, even with all the moving around I've done.

It's nice to know that I've got many aspects of a support network in place, but I see the seasons changing and am a bit lonely and realize how far there is still to go.


  1. I have a friend who house-sits for a living. Granted, she's trying to find something more settled - but on the plus side, she not only watches the house, she will babysit whatever living creatures come with it, human or otherwise! So she's got experience taking care of livestock. If she's still doing this by the time you're ready for an extended trip, I can ask if she's interested - ?

  2. Oh, that sounds extremely cool. Sounds like she's a person comfortable with uncertainty!

  3. If we can find each other at NOFA, then we ought to be able to find each other in East Nowhere Rensselaer County. Come on over. I farm sit. I'm (relatively) friendly, and I cook pretty well. (Haven't killed anyone yet.) Sorry about the third thing...I'm booked.

    Interested in taking a day off from engineering to do a little farm stuff/friend meeting? Drop me an e-mail and I'll give you details. Would love to have company...

  4. Jordan,
    I go around and around on this too. In the end I know I'm strong enough to sustain myself with my circle of friends and family as support. Dammit, I just don't WANT to have to do that, you know?

    I don't have anything profound to offer, just that I hear you and concur.

    And it does feel good to have service people that you can trust. I love my mechanic in a car-owner-y kind of way.

  5. I also read that article by Brooks in our local paper. I even tore it out because I thought is was so good. (Yes, I do have someone in mind to give it to.) Even though I do have someone (my husband) who "has my back", I miss the friend/neighbor/girlfriend thing. I live a distance out of town in the South and don't quite fit in out in the country. Plus, I am not related to anyone here. I do have neighbors but none I would call friends. They aren't even friends with each other!!! The people I would call friends are in my quilt group but I am at least 20 minutes or more from them all so, although I meet with them 2-3 time a month, it's not the same as next door or around the corner. So, sadly, we are looking into moving closer to town. Not the best idea at the moment with the housing slump. Anyway, I feel your "pain" and hope that you can get together with some of the other "commentors" who left friendly messages. We all need a few close friends!!!! Good Luck with your hunt!

  6. Your post hit the nail on the head!

  7. Thanks for the kind words everyone! Living out here in the hills is wonderful and life-affirming and I am rarely lonely. But sometimes, just sometimes, I realize that living in the city was nice too - it was *much* easier to keep up with relationships there!

  8. What do you think about creating a Facebook page for your homestead? I continue to be amazed at the way FB & other internet tools can be harnessed to support friendship, community, and just plain-old getting things done.

  9. I hadn't thought of that - it's a good idea. Thanks!