I remember the second time I wondered if moving to the Roseburg area was a mistake. The first time was when I realized how very, very far away Target seems to be from my house (Why no Target, Roseburg? I will keep it in business single-handedly!) The third time was when I pulled a tick out of one of my children’s head ... but that second time, that was when I was sitting in front of my son’s “emergency contacts” form for school.

You see, I didn’t have a single name to write there. I didn’t have any friends or family who lived here — period. Much less someone who would be willing to pick up a sick son for me at school if I missed the calls.

And so began my mission to find some friends.

We have moved a lot during my adult life (that darn grass keeps looking greener), so I know how overwhelming it is to be new to an area. You can’t find anything in the grocery stores, you don’t know which doctor to choose, you don’t know which roads to avoid at 5 p.m. The list goes on and on.

But my biggest of advice to you is this: Get yourself out there and get involved in something. Church, gymnastics classes, swimming lessons, parenting groups, 4-H, preschools, the YMCA, library story time, whatever floats your boat. Find something that forces you to be around other people in the same stage of life and stick that smile on your face. Your future best friend could be waiting for you.

The more involved you become, the more people you meet and have the opportunity to make friendships with. Also, the more people you meet, the more chances you have to ask the questions you really need to know like, “Which pediatrician do you use?” and, “Is that Mexican restaurant any good?” Before you know it, you will start to see familiar faces popping up around town. And that makes everything feel less foreign.

Also, please be patient with yourself. Friendships don’t just happen overnight. Just because you don’t know anyone now, or you haven’t met that special someone who you feel comfortable unbuttoning your jeans with after a large meal, doesn’t mean that you won’t. Find someone who you click with and start investing in them. Give yourself time and space to find your way in your new town.

I have names on my “emergency contacts” form this year. Although I still miss my friends and family from my old town, I have people here that I can text with a question, a playdate idea, or a desperate plea to “get me out of this house and away from these children.” Friendships are happening for me, even though for a while I wondered if they would.

And I never regret moving here anymore.

Caitlin Harris is a Portland native who now happily lives in Douglas County with her husband and five boys.

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