Reinventing the self and putting down roots

“You don’t let any moss grow, do you.” My new friend stated this more than asked it. If I hadn’t been the only one sitting across from her at her dining room table, I would have looked around to see who else she was addressing. I am, after all, the most moss-growingest person I know.

“I’m really very shy,” I told another new friend over chai at a quaint little coffee shop. We were getting to know each other, having giggled at first meeting that it seemed a bit like a blind date.

“You hide it very well.” I guess I do. I am shy, perhaps not as much as my younger self was, but put me in a group of more than two or three others, and I am perfectly content to listen instead of speaking.

I proved my shyness at a writers’ workshop two Saturdays ago, refusing to volunteer any answers to the larger group. I spoke up when we broke into small groups but only because it would have been completely ridiculous of me not to say anything. It was the kind of discussion intended for colleagues and friends who know each other well, an exercise in identifying each others’ voices in our writing. None of these women knew my name much less my writing. Part of me wanted to slide down onto the floor and slink out of the room at that point, but others would have noticed. Besides, my groupmates were so lovely about trying to draw me out.

I have not been in my comfort zone these past few weeks, having to stretch and reach out and introduce myself and combat my hermit-like tendencies. I don’t have the luxury of being my usual shy, reticent self here, and I’m trying to create opportunities to meet new friends instead of waiting passively for opportunities to find me. Some days bring more success than others.

As I reinvent myself, I realize I’m starting to establish new roots of friendship.

I wrote to thank a neighbor for a Christmas plant she had hand-delivered the day after I arrived here. As I wrote, I realized her gift was the only plant we had in our house, and I knew I needed something rooted and growing. Because of California laws barring plants from out of state, I had to give away all of my house plants before leaving North Carolina. Sweet family and friends took in my orphaned plants, including several jade plants I had started as a single plant at least fifteen years ago. Through writing that note, I discovered I was missing not only my human friends but also my little green friends. A trip to Trader Joe’s provided a solution:


A new baby jade plant


Another succulent that I may or may not be able to keep alive. I’ve tucked a jade plant leaf in the pot, just in case.


A third set of succulents for good measure

These new houseplants bring me a surprising amount of giddy joy every time I look at them.

I’ve realized, too, that I’m benefiting from the roots others have put down. While my husband and I haven’t done any outdoor planting, or much weeding for that matter, we are enjoying the plants and trees someone planted before us, especially the three citrus trees keeping us well supplied with fruit. No scurvy for us! My husband frequently picks an orange to take into work, and I’ve been using the clementines on salads and as snacks. What a delight that someone before us planted them for us to now enjoy.


Beyond the garden, my new friends have strong roots of their own here. This is home for them, and most remember a time of leaving “home” to move here and make this a new home. What a blessing they are to me as they introduce me to places they love and carve out time for a new friend in their own packed lives.

I know I’ll make some missteps as I reinvent my life to fit with this place, but I also hope to learn how to nourish new roots and create something worthy and flourishing here.

Have you ever had to reinvent yourself? What was the catalyst? And how well did you succeed?

2 thoughts on “Reinventing the self and putting down roots

  1. I didn’t really reinvent myself, but I loved going to college and found it freeing. A new place, a bigger (much) pond at UNC, very few women from my high school (only 2). It was time to spread my wings and fly and I did. I owe so much to the strong women in my life at home who supported me with their wisdom and strength, believing in my dreams. And, at UNC, I found my niche within my sorority and major.

    • For many, college can be the first time of really learning who we are and what niches await us. I’m so glad you had support from home and from strong communities at your school.Thanks for dropping by to share!

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