Extra Pulp: The Right Move

Laura Anders Lee shares what it takes to create friendships in a new town.



Davi Vallejo

My parents still live in the same house they bought when I was 5. The classmates I met in elementary school remained my best friends my senior year of high school. And when I joined a sorority in college, I acquired a lifelong group of friends before the first day of class. I always enjoyed a safe haven of sameness and ready-made friends. But since college graduation, I’ve lived in seven places in five states. In 15 years of marriage, my husband, Bryan, and I have moved around—a lot. Here I am in adulthood, finally knowing what it’s like to be the new kid on the block.

Being new can be lonely. I’ve walked into rooms not knowing a soul. I’ve watched cliques of moms gathered at the playground and congregated at the gym happily chatting to one another, oblivious to those standing alone. I’ve seen social media posts of dinner parties where we weren’t invited, of close-knit friends content with their comfortable group. We’ve spent holidays by ourselves, when it seemed everyone else was celebrating with friends and family nearby.

But when we moved with our two sons to Orlando, we discovered it was unlike any place we had lived before. In our neighborhood of Celebration, nobody was native. Instead of families sequestered in their own suburban backyards, residents were out and about, walking downtown and playing in the various green spaces. Meeting people was easy. It is actually against the HOA rules not to have chairs on your front porch—you’re expected to sit outside and greet your neighbors. I met an Animal Kingdom elephant trainer, a mom who converts Disney’s food waste into electricity, a Goodyear Blimp engineer, and a landscape architect for The World of AVATAR—there is no shortage of interesting characters who flock to Orlando for work. Not only were we meeting families brand new to town, many were brand new to the United States.

One evening a friend from France, by way of Disneyland Paris, hosted a dinner party and asked that we all bring something to represent where we were from. She made Swiss Chard casserole; a friend from Denmark prepared Risalamande, an almond rice pudding; a friend from Spain brought tortilla de patatas, a potato omelet; and I cooked some good ol’ Alabama cheese grits.

Inspired by her dinner party, Bryan and I decided to host our own. We invited everyone we had met in town so far: friends from work, a dad from the playground, a mom from the pool, next-door neighbors, families of the boys’ classmates at school, a friend of a friend from college … I was nervous my house wasn’t perfectly put together and worried the random mix of people might be awkward, but the party was a hit. Everyone enjoyed being together and meeting new people.   

Moving around a lot has taught us so much. We’ve learned how to put ourselves out there. Instead of waiting for an invitation, we create our own fun. We’ve learned to include everyone. My children are learning how to adapt, like I never had to. William and Anders are in kindergarten and second grade, and they’ve already attended eight schools in three states.

We’ve moved to each town with unease and uncertainty about what to expect, not knowing where I’d work, who the boys’ teacher would be, or if the grocery store would have our favorite go-to items. We’ve gotten through the tough days together, realizing that home really is where the heart is—with the ones you love most. We’ve bonded so much as a family of four; our love has been the one constant.

Each time we’ve had to say goodbye and move again, we see how much our lives have been enriched by that place—the experiences we’ve had and the relationships we’ve made with amazing friends, people who were willing to take a chance on the new guys in town. We have gained friends from all over the world we never would have met staying in one place.

This year, when you’re making resolutions, I hope you’ll make a simple one to meet someone new. Invite them to lunch, to your book club, your bunco group, your church or your spinning class. Then invite them again. Introduce them to your friends. When someone moves into your neighborhood, bring them brownies or order them a pizza while they’re still buried in moving boxes. If you already have a strong group of friends, know there is always room for one more. Take time to notice the new person in the room and say hello. They might just be your new best friend.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

Retirement Living 2019

This feature highlights several great retirement communities that Central Florida has to offer.

Orlando's Best Lawyers 2019

Our annual list includes hundreds of Orlando-area attorneys in dozens of areas of practice.

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2019

Our annual list featuring 220 of the area's finest dental professionals.

Guide to Private Schools 2019

Our searchable annual database will help you chart an educational course for your family.

Top Doctors 2018

The Annual List of the Top Doctors in Orlando.

Best Doctors 2018

The Annual List of the Best Doctors in Orlando.

Orlando's Top Chiropractors of 2018

Check out our 2018 list of some of the best chiropractors in the Orlando area.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Escape To St. Augustine's Newest Oceanfront Resort

We discovered a true gem off of Florida's Atlantic Coast. Come along with us as we explore the brand new Embassy Suites St. Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort.

An Easier Way to Buy & Sell A Home

Since 2017, Opendoor has been shaking up the residential real estate market in Central Florida, putting more power than ever into buyers’ and sellers’ hands.

Ultimate Game of Thrones Experience Giveaway

Win the Ultimate Game of Thrones Experience for you and 4 of your friends! Enter through May 15.

Future Tense

The latest Savor Orlando blog post has some good news about coming attractions, grim news about planet Earth.

Guiding Lights

The Indigo Girls inspired "music nerd girl'' Becky Warren. Now the singer-songwriter is opening for them.
Edit Module