I usually respond to Sadje’s question in her comments, but this one is a bit more in-depth for me, so I’m doing a full post instead.
I’m a people person and get on with almost everybody. I didn’t have a bunch of friends at school, just classmates and acquaintances, and in my working life, I knew a lot of people, were friendly with them all, but ‘friends?’ Not really, though I do have one friend I have known since 1980 when I was working for the building company. It was she who told me to ‘Keep this one, he’s useful’, the best advice I was ever given.
We learned a lot when we were in the cottage about fair weather friends and users. We began to doubt ourselves, and backed off from everyone, not encouraging friendships, though we would engage in conversation.
Life in the boating community changed that, everyone had one thing in common, a boat, and that was all that was need to feel a sense of belonging.
We made friends both on and off the water, and are still in touch with most of them.
Here it is pretty similar, the common denominator to open conversation was having a dog. There are a lot around here, and I get trashed by most of them. Maggie was used to that, but we always reassured her that we loved her best. We still go for our walks and our friends have commented it’s strange to see us without her.
We have made friends, but it’s been a gradual process and the Covid pandemic has brought our little community closer together. Gone are the days of knocking on someone’s back door in the ’60s and ’70s, shouting ‘Coo-ee!’ and knowing a cup of tea would always be in the offing. We pride ourselves on offering tea or coffee before anyone takes their coat off, but the casual chat over tea and digestives I remember my mother having are a distant memory.
Before Covid, it was easy to chat with everyone. Now we are more guarded, and keep our distance from people we don’t recognise as locals. Thus we continue to know a lot of people by sight, but to make a new friend takes time.