When I first got to Arizona, I realized how much I had been surrounded by friends, all throughout Texas. Even in Dallas, there were friends to hang out with and do things with, but my first month in Arizona seemed to drag on endlessly. I found myself sitting alone at a bar eating pizza and watching a football game, wishing desperately that the bunch of black athletes behind me were my friends, that I could crack a joke and make them laugh, or say something about one of them and have everyone join in on the playful diss. I wanted to be cool again, because in all honesty I felt like a big dork.

Fast forward to tonight. I promised two friends that I would be at their birthday party, and I went. I didn't know anyone else there, and this wasn't one of those groups you could easily socialize with. They were closed, and their conversations were inwardly directed. I felt like a complete outsider, to the point that I left after about an hour, having made an extended appearance while still having an excuse to leave.

I went from there to the home of a dear friend, hanging out with people who have become close and important to me. I made silly jokes and everyone laughed. I was made fun of, and I poked right back. We had a great time, and I felt like I belonged. I thank God for that, because I realize how much that means.

At the end of this year, my residency ends, and most likely I will be in a new place, looking for a new group of friends. I most likely will find myself eating alone, or driving the streets alone, or doing something else rather lonely. Friends will call and say they miss me, but they will feel so far away, and I'll just be more lonely. But there are always people who are willing to become your new family, if you'd just take the steps towards them.

Treasure the places that you belong. Invite people in, because there is always someone feeling like an outsider around you, one person who needs to be included... and they might just be really really fun :).

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