Friday, December 10, 2010
Not Watching Dateline Alone
I am so glad I went to the party in my building tonight. I met a teacher, activity aide for seniors, school counselor who just obtained her master's, 72-year-old-grandma who holds a black belt and teaches karate, a hospital worker, and newly retired former business owner. The apartments I went into were furnished well, clean, attractive and tidy. Everyone was nice, pleasant and more than friendly. They all wanted me to go out dancing with them afterward but I begged off since tomorrow is a busy day for me. They're going out dancing again next week and want me to join them.
I know for a long time I have harbored intense feelings of failure and shame with myself for having had to move into an apartment. I've never lived in an apartment before. Perhaps I had some sort of white trash image of myself for having to be an apartment dweller. Tonight, however, my stereotypes were broken. That 72-year-old grandma worked two jobs after her divorce to raise her two daughters. She comes from another country and had no family to help her. She did what she had to do, she told me. The other women were divorced too, some with tales of rotten ex-husbands in jail. One of these women was an Irish dancer in the Riverdance Troupe. One divorced woman now lives with her mom. The 36-year-old activity assistant is raising an 8-year-old, although there is a dad whom he visits on weekends.
All in all, a bunch of pretty talented and interesting people. I showed them the video tape of my son performing at the talent contest this summer and told them he will be having an original composition played by the band for the spring concert. This new group of friends all said they wanted to attend the concert! Some of the group is going to take a self-defense class next week together. One woman showed us how to make these amazing star ornaments out of cut paper. The activity assistant asked the Irish dancer to show her how to perform an Irish jig so she can dance it in front of the seniors she works with.
I was complimented on how handsome and nice my sons are and that they have always been polite to the residents. I felt a sense of community, kindness and friendship that has certainly been lacking in my life. People offered to help one another in various ways. When I said I don't really have clothes suitable for going out dancing I was told that they'd come up with something between themselves that I could wear.
I sure hope this is not a one-time interaction. I'd like to be able to socialize like this again. Maybe I can plan a pot luck Valentine bash of my own or a January chilly/chili snowman party. I had been thinking of inviting two of the women I've gotten to know in for tea. I joked with them both that it was good I hadn't done so, because it was clear everyone would have enjoyed something stronger than tea!
Anyway, some aspects of my life seem to be on the upswing. I'm looking forward to socializing with the knitting group (one of the members brought in homemade English toffee at the last meeting - what a treat!). Now I've met some nice friendly people here. I'm feeling more confident about pursing a job in my field and not giving up during the process. Most of all, I feel I can hold up my head a bit higher. I'm an only parent doing what I can for my sons to keep them in the community so they can graduate from the high school they've both thrived at and the town they feel most comfortable in. I've done my best under the circumstances. I'm one of those nice people living in an apartment. So what. It doesn't make me less of a person or diminish my worth. As the 72-year-old grandma said to me to tonight as I complimented her apartment, "We might not own it but it is still our home." I learned a lot tonight and I am grateful for these lessons.