Remember being the new kid at school? Or the newest hire in an established business or department? Have you gone to a party where everyone else has known each other for years?

That’s a little bit like moving to a new country.

You feel like a fish out of water and you are pretty sure everyone is staring at you standing there dripping wet and unable to disguise the fact that you don’t belong – yet.

Leaving behind family, friends, schools, church, Boy Scouts, sports teams, social groups, etc., means leaving behind all those connections. All those things that make you feel like you belong, fit in, and know what is going on.

We’ve been searching for connections. The boys have school and sports teams to help with that. Dean has coworkers. Somedays, I’m not sure I leave the house or talk to anyone but my immediate family. It’s a struggle.

But yesterday… Yesterday was different.

It was a day of connections. Sweet, joyous, hopeful connections.

A friend dragged me out of the house for a late breakfast at Nomada in Casco Viejo. We chatted with people. I used my Spanish successfully, multiple times. We wandered the area, enjoying the architecture.

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My friend invited me to join a book club that she had recently found. A book club! That’s about the best thing you can invite me to.

We discovered the newly opened Olga Sinclair gallery. It is beautiful. Had a great chat with Richard there. The gallery is working on public events, creating a space that is part gallery, part museum, part education and outreach. It’s ambitious and amazing. I’m ready to take classes, learn from artists and figure out where I can participate.

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On the way home, we had to stop to pick up the book club book (we’ll talk about how you get books in English in Panama. It’s an adventure of its own.) from a member who has the book but can’t make this month’s meeting. Turns out this book club member lives in the same housing complex as me. I walk by her house almost every day.

She was smart, funny and has lots of relocation experience. She doesn’t drink coffee, but she’s definitely a win in the friendship department.

Then she asked me if I was on the Clayton Village WhatsApp chat group… (WhatsApp chat groups are how people communicate here. The church has a group, each grade level at the school has a group, the sports teams each have groups, Dean’s work has groups by work location, etc.)

I was added to the neighborhood WhatsApp chat, and suddenly, I’m connected with a wide-range of neighbors.

When I got home, an email was waiting with my link to my first online writing course.

I have things to do and people to see.

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