When I first moved to Helena from New York, I was worried about making friends. I knew absolutely no one. Luckily, almost as soon as I settled into my house, I had ladies knocking on my door to invite me to church or lunch. Interestingly enough, almost everyone who went out of their way to welcome me to the area was several decades older. Sweet Southern ladies with perfect hair and makeup. They took me under their wing, helping me set up my new life and introducing me to ins and outs of the area. I learned which restaurants have the best plate lunches and who to call when your porch light goes out and you can’t reach it. They introduced me to the Southern delicacies of cheese straws, sweet tea, and okra. I still haven’t come around to sweet tea…
As time went on I developed friendships with other young professionals in the area, but my bonds with some of the first ladies I met have stayed strong. One of my favorite parts of living in a small town is that friendships more easily cross generations. In the cities I’ve lived in, I really never socially interacted with anyone over the age of 35, with the exception of a few co-workers. Young people hang out in their own sphere of restaurants, bars, and events, while “old” people socialize in an almost entirely separate domain.
In a small town, options for socializing are more limited. There are only a dozen or so restaurants and a few bars (if that), so everyone ends up mingling in the same space. When I first moved to town, a new restaurant and bar opened. When I went there for the first time, the place was packed with everyone from teenagers to retirees. I ended up sharing a table with a couple who lived just down the street. Their kids are probably older than me, but they were hilarious and I had so much hanging out with them all night long.
Churches here are small and many have an aging population. More likely than not you will spend your Sunday morning sitting next to a sweet older lady, who after church will give you her number in case you ever need anything. And then before you know it, you’re stopping by on Saturday mornings for leisurely breakfasts or hanging out at evening events, where she will almost always drink you under the table. Dawna, pictured below, certainly will!
I love these friendships. Over the past four years, I have learned so much from my lady friends. They’re who I call when I need advice, because chances are they’ve already dealt with the same situation, usually more than once. They tell me when I make social missteps and when my yard isn’t properly pruned. They even helped me get ready on my wedding day, sipping mimosas while supervising my hairstyle.
The best thing about it is I know that no matter what happens, I have my fairy godmothers watching over me, making sure that in the end everything is going to OK and that my hair looks good along the way.
If you do not have any older friends, I highly recommend it. They will bring a diversity of opinions and experiences to your life. Plus, who doesn’t need a fairy godmother looking out for them?