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If you want friends, be a friend, says Mary Jean Rivera of the West Linn Adult Community Center. You'll find lots of friendly people there.

Somewhere in my 30s, I realized I didn't have any friends, no one with whom I would share important matters, like a cancer diagnosis or divorce in the making. When I asked myself why this situation existed, I had to honestly admit it had roots in a piece of advice I had followed since I was a teenager: "Choose your friends. Don't let them choose you."

That was good advice in a way, because who you hang out with really influences a person quite a lot, especially teenagers. But they weren't choosing me anyway! Now what? I wanted friends. So I erased that flashing sign of judgment from my forehead that everyone must have been seeing. That's all I did. But something did change.

Because of my husband's job, we moved a lot. Starting then, in each new place, I joined some local group — a book club, political purpose, community goal, parents' club or church study group — and pretty soon I had some friends who shared my life interests. I chose the groups, and then I let friends choose me.

Currently, I choose my women writers group, my church friends group, my theater-going group and the West Linn Adult Community Center.

I do my best to be a good hostess and make others comfortable in my home when they come, being orderly but not too fastidious to the point of embarrassing someone. I make my dog behave so he won't spoil a good thing for me. I visit my neighbors and send cards to my relatives who haven't preceded me in death — even the ones who don't talk to me very often. I text "good morning" daily to my widow friends. My most interesting friends are not exactly like me, but we have something in common.

If you want friends, be a friend.

We all need friends throughout our lives, to the very end and maybe beyond. Your smile says a lot. Learn people's names and their main concerns or issues. Be ready to listen to others' troubles and joys. Join with others who share your interests. Volunteer if that is needed. Say yes!

The West Linn Adult Community Center is a great place to start building friendships. You can meet other people and enjoy reading, exercising, crafting, singing, playing a musical instrument, eating lunch, sharing your skills, hearing lectures, seeing movies and celebrating life with short trips. New friends may choose YOU.

The lunch menu this week features pork loin with apples, potatoes Lyonnaise, broccoli and peanut butter cookies on Friday, Oct. 12; chicken alfredo on penne pasta, zucchni and strawberry cream pie on Monday, Oct. 15; and chicken orzo soup, chicken salad sandwiches and carrot cake

on Wednesday, Oct. 17. Cost is $5 per person.

The WLACC is located at 1180 Rosemont Road in West Linn. Call 503-557-4704 for more information.

Mary Jean Rivera is a member of the West Linn Adult Community Center.


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