I began to work many years ago and my job involved interactions and sometimes very stressful conversations and lengthy discussions with people, employees, government officials, and unhappy folks. At that point in my life, I pretty much gave up idle chatter.
Therein lies one of the challenges of retirement — there are no colleagues to intersperse work and easy social chit-chat. I also realized when I retired that I had developed few social non-work related networks of friends. I felt close to my work friends, shared some confidences, laughed, and discussed my life. It was an easy and lazy way to have friends. I had few if any other people in my life it seemed.
When I moved to Ocean City, the only people I really new anywhere in the area were a few retired colleagues living in the general area. These “friends” had their own activities and social networks within their smaller communities on the shore, including civic organizations, political causes, environmental activities, historical societies, and travel commitments.
Now, every other Wednesday morning I get together with a group of women in their 60s and 70s. We meet at a local coffee shop, McCabe’s, to chat and have coffee. I have never been one to network with women socially, but since retirement I take advantage of these opportunities to make new friends and to relearn the art form of social conversation.
We call ourselves the Babes, corny huh? But, none of us knew each other prior to moving to OC or southern Delaware. The initial group slowly expanded as friends brought in other friends. While the group meets every other Wednesday, it usually has a different group of ten or so ladies each time. Some go south for the winter, while others travel to Europe. I go camping during the summer months since OC becomes too crowded.
No one really talks about what each of us did professionally prior to retirement. It doesn’t count in this setting. Everyone seems to have a more than adequate retirement income. The discussions range from recent travels, family (especially grandchildren), the news, and of course, any major health issues. We share resources for entertainment, doctors, shopping, and reading.
Social interactions are important for mental stimulation, support functions, and stress reduction. While I have found myself missing the artificial closeness and reciprocity of my everyday work relationships, I appreciate the engagement with these women. There are less direct competitive behaviors among the group and the topics are friendly and relevant to my age group.