Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

Day 186, Staying at Home

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020; Santa Fe, New Mexico

If places have theme songs, then mine for Santa Fe could be that Girl Scout favorite: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”

I came here knowing one person. I’ll leave next week having made several new friendships and reconnected with other friends from years gone by.

If there is one thing a childhood of constant moves teaches you, it’s to make friends. Between attending six elementary schools, two junior highs and thank goodness just one high school, I would have had a lonely childhood had I not learned to walk into a room of strangers and leave having made connections.

My recent life as a nomad has put those skills to work. I made good friends in writing and sketching groups during my three summers in Chicago. I’ve made dozens of friendships on cruises, and we all kept turning up on subsequent voyages.

So I didn’t mind coming to Santa Fe for three months only knowing Connie, whom I sailed with on two cruises in Asia and the South Pacific. She has introduced me to her favorite Santa Fe restaurants with patio seating and to the local art supply store. Earlier this week we drove with her friend Jana to Connie’s mountain cabin in Holy Ghost Canyon and had a picnic at nearby Jack’s Creek. The leaves are just beginning to turn.

Meanwhile, I met my neighbors on both sides of the condo. Hannah and Sarah show up every few evenings to water the plants per the owner’s request. Janet has become an especially good friend, inviting me to dinner, introducing other neighbors, and taking my sister and me sightseeing in nearby Madrid for a day. I’m leaving her with a painting from our visit there.

My friendliest neighbor is Mr. Mosley, Janet’s small dog. That might have something to do with the bag of treats I keep for him. He has learned to wiggle his way between the railings on the patio gate to come sit in my lap while I have my morning coffee.

Last week I had a delightful lunch with another new friend, Maureen. I first found her when she advertised a casita for rent. Our rental timing didn’t work out, but Maureen and I connected through our mutual interest in travel. She welcomed me with a wonderful sign, directing me to her back yard so we could socially distance over wine before walking to an outdoor restaurant. So I painted her a small scene from her back yard.

Earlier today Maureen hosted a backyard luncheon, bringing together some of her friends who also like to travel. Her patio tables were perfect for a pandemic meal and lively conversation. Sharon has lived around the world; Jami is a professional conservation photographer and leads photo tours from the Yukon and Galapagos to Africa, and everyone had travel stories to tell. I’m just sorry I will be leaving so soon after meeting them.

Last Sunday I visited Sue for another outdoor lunch. She is the sister of one of my best friends, Ginzy, and connected me with the rental agent for my condo. I’m insanely jealous of her new home with multiple patios and a beautiful fountain — I think it could entice me to settle down.

Santa Fe also has turned out to be a good crossroads for reunions with other friends. I wrote earlier about Barbara and Richard’s visit as they drove their RV to the Pacific Northwest to escape the summer heat in south Texas. Now they are heading back, and I have my fingers crossed that they will come back through before I leave.

I last saw my friend Martha about a year and half ago when I visited her in Denver while on an Amtrak trip through the American West. We worked together in Dallas in the late 1990s and have stayed in touch since. So when she and some friends came to Santa Fe for the weekend, we met for an outdoor brunch (but forgot to take a picture).

Pam and I figure we haven’t seen each other in 15 years. We were neighbors in New Jersey and visited each other a couple of times after I moved to Dallas and she to Phoenix. We connect through FaceBook and holiday cards. While I have been cruising, she has been riding her bicycle through countries far and wide.

Now Pam and her friend Larry spend summers near Durango, Colorado, so we met at the Abiquiu Inn last week. Georgia O’Keefe’s home there is still closed to visitors, but we did stop to see Abiquiu Lake, which I think is the only lake I have seen so far in New Mexico.

Jo, Larry and Pam

Of course, my best friends are my sisters, and Eloise and I had a great two weeks together here. I’m sorry Elaine couldn’t make it out, but the long drive from Dallas is hardly worth it if you have a to work remotely full time while here. We’ve stayed in touch through weekly happy hour calls with Barbara and Richard. My Chicago writing group meets weekly via Zoom.

I’ll even count the hummingbirds among my new friends. Their numbers have dwindled since the air is cooler. But they don’t fly away when I talk to them as they feed just a couple of feet from me.

I came to Santa Fe thinking it would be a beautiful place to spend the summer in nature, even when quarantined among strangers. I’m leaving knowing that one day I’ll come back, not for the scenery but for the friends I’ve made here.