After 18 months or so of living in Roanoke, it may be time to start calling it home and making it my home. It seems like ever since I got here the plan has been to leave as soon as the right opportunity presented itself. But now that things have changed (again) and I am mostly employed, there are no plans to leave. It feels strange to say, but I just might stay here.
I never expected to like it here. I grew up visiting Roanoke frequently as a kid. We lived four hours away but came every few months or so to visit family. I always thought of Roanoke as a pain to visit, slightly redneck, and a little too small town for me. I still do think of it as redneck and a little small town. But I've actually started to like it as I have adjusted myself to living here. It also helps to finally have some semblance of stability and independence. I'm still mooching off my parents and living in their house (they aren't living here though). I'd like to be able to buy or rent my own place again before much longer. I miss "my stuff," that continues to sit in storage in another state. And I'd like to have my own real space again, but for now this is a good arrangement.
I no longer expect to find what I want at the mall. I rarely find a reason to visit the mall. I'm not sure if it is because the mall(s) are so unimpressive or if I'm just too poor to buy anything. Probably a good mix of both. I now expect that the ethnic food options will be limited, and am pleasantly surprised when I find something good. Same goes for most culture around here. I'm passing out of my expectations where I always want everything to be as diverse and useful as the DC area. I've changed my expectations to a more appropriate level, and it is no longer a negative thing, or an annoyance for me.
I have a great relationship with some of my younger cousins, and second cousins, I never would have expected to have. This has probably been the highlight of living here. I swap music with one my high school aged cousins, which is just fun. And some of the younger girl cousins just think of me as a friend, and not like some big, older, strange person they don't relate to. I love it when they ask me to help them with something, or for rides, or just to hang out. I don't know that it will ever feel normal or natural to go to a church congregation where everyone is related, but it does feel less bizarre to me now.
Last night the missionaries came to Mutual (youth group) and challenged the kids to all bring a non-Mormon friend to our activity next week. We have a boys vs girls challenge to see which group can bring more friends. Before they challenged the kids they pulled me aside and first asked if that was okay (because I'm in charge of the activity, and they needed to make sure I could handle it). And then asked if I would set the example and bring a friend as well. (Nicely played, Elders. Nicely played.) I would have loved to have accepted the challenge. But I had to say no. I honesty and truly don't have one friend in Roanoke that isn't a family member or church member. (And all family members are also church members.) This disappointed me for several reasons. Not just because of the challenge, but because it is the only drawback to my current lifestyle. I work alone from home, and my only social interactions are at church or with my cousins. I really don't know anyone else, unless you count the nice lady at the gas station.
Now that I have more or less "committed" to living here for a long time, it is time for that to change. This has everything to do with why I don't date here- I don't have a way of meeting people. But this isn't just about dating. It is also about wanting to just have friends that aren't genetically required to be polite to you, and that aren't 12 years old. So I have been thinking about how and where to make friends. Where do you go? How do you make friends?
The thought has crossed my mind to get involved in the community more, but I'm not sure how or where yet. I'm giving serious thought to joining, or at least supporting, Big Brothers Big Sisters again. (But that won't get me many friends that aren't 12 years old.) Anyone have any suggestions? Outside of church groups and work where do you go to make friends?