Have you ever moved to a new place where you know almost no one? I’ve done this quite a few times in my life and there’s lots that I like about it. There’s the fresh start of setting up your house and knowing everything that is on every shelf and in every closet – for a least a few days. There’s the new discovery of hikes in the area and new sites to see. And when we moved here to the Okanagan 8 years ago, there was a lake to swim in as often as possible.
Perhaps strangely, I also love not knowing anyone to start with. There’s this brief time of about 3 weeks where there’s no responsibilities other than your family. No friends that you’ve disappointed or that need you in some way. No co-workers or boss that is frustrated with you. No obligations anywhere yet relationally because you don’t KNOW anyone yet. And it’s freeing. Lots of tea and books and walks to the library and coffee shops.
But then you start to notice that there isn’t anyone to share your extra crop of hazelnuts with. No one to tell that your kids have a concert coming up. No one to keep you accountable when you try, once again, to eat healthily. And then it’s time to do something about it. To get to know people in this new place you are living.
Seth’s CEA (Certified Education Assistant) was the first one to invite me to go running with the Solesisters. It didn’t spark my interest because of the running. Not at all. I personally and passionately believed at the time that all who said they loved running were either lying or fooling themselves. But I thought – huh – I could get to know some people here. Then, when Saturday morning rolled around, I couldn’t get the courage up to go. I wasn’t in shape, I didn’t have the right running clothes, and I only had my mother-in-law’s too big hand me down runners.
Then another person I met, Patti, came up to me and invited me to this running group. ‘It’s called the Solesisters and it meets Saturday mornings,’ she said. ‘Oh yeah,’ I answered. ‘Seth’s CEA told me about that.’ But Patti followed the invite up with, ‘What time shall I pick you up on Saturday?’… and I couldn’t say no.
So… dressed in hand me down sweat pants from my girlfriend, my husband’s t-shirt, and my mother-in-laws shoes, I stood nervously in the driveway as I watched Patti drive up that next Saturday. She was chatty and friendly and when we arrived at the meeting spot, she introduced me to everyone. They all looked like running gurus to me. And I thought, ‘Well, here goes…’ And I puffed along for 5 K totally unable to keep up any semblance of my side of the conversation as we all ran along. They kept going as I gratefully called it quits and walked back toward the start. “We’ll meet you for coffee,” one of them yelled back. And they did. All those beautiful ladies sat around the table at the coffee shop after their run and laughed and talked and welcomed me there.
And each week, I keep going back. About 2 years in, I finally realized I was enjoying the running part. But it’s still not why I go. I go because I know I will get to meet my sole sisters for coffee. I go because I know I will hear about their new dogs or their business trips that drove them crazy. I go too because I care about how their interview went or how their schooling is going or how their kids are doing in their new school. I go because they have become some of my dearest friends. And we run – all different distances, all different start times. But you’ll often hear as you run by – ‘I’ll meet you for coffee.’