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Giving Thanks for Deep Wilton Friendships

Columnist Heather Borden Herve is using this week to focus on how lucky she feels to have made such great friends in town.

There's something about turning 40 that puts life in perspective.

Yes, there are bigger age mile-markers much earlier on, like turning 21. For me, hitting 27 was upsetting, I think because I had aged out of the possibility of being on MTV's "The Real World."   

I turned 40 more recently, the same year I moved to Wilton. I wondered what it would be like to move to a new place at this new stage in my life. I was relatively settled: married seven years, my husband and I were no longer newlyweds; we had two kids, and that was highly unlikely to change; and I owned a rapidly-growing business with my Weston-based sister, so I was set professionally.   

The only unknown—who would be my friends? 

Friendships at 40 are a complicated topic. Who am I kidding, friendships at every stage of my life have been complex and rich, scary and deeply personal. The relationships from high-school? I really should be paying you $300-a-session to talk about those. My college friends were, and still are, some of the best I've ever made.   

But, in this week of giving thanks, I'd like to reflect on the friends I've made  here in Wilton. It really hasn't been until now that I'm able to weigh what's important and valuable in a friendship. Also, having a better sense of myself, I now know what I can give in return. 

It's never hard to meet people when you move to Wilton. There's a cornucopia of friend-making opportunities, and I could have been the "Friend Slut," trying to befriend as many new people as possible at every turn.  

Right off the bat, there's the Newcomers Club. Joining is a town rite of passage, and with its great programming and activities, it's pretty much impossible not to make friends through it.   

You can also always make friends through your children—especially if your children play Wilton sports. During the last two chaotic days before my move to Wilton, my sister called me.

"Drop everything you're doing," she said. "If there's one thing you need to do today, it's sign up your son for Wilton rec soccer."

She knew how important it was for my then-5-year-old, but she also knew it would be crucial for me. She was right:  I made my first Wilton friends on the soccer field sidelines. 

Everywhere you go in Wilton, you're bound to run into someone you know from school, sports, volunteering, the Y, church or synagogue. The other day I dropped my son at basketball practice and in the space of five minutes, I stopped to talk with women I'd met through soccer, volunteering at Ambler Farm, and my children's public school and Hebrew school classes.  Those first-layer friends are great, making the fabric of Wilton feel wonderful.   

But what really makes the warmth of Wilton feel tangible are those few women friends I've found that have helped me realize what I want to give in return. There's the woman I'm just getting to know, but who shared how she was just as intimidated by the cliques as I was. Her vulnerability—and comfortable self-awareness that let her share—made it clear it's a friendship I want to pursue. 

There's the mom of my son's friend, who opens her heart unconditionally. You can count on her to always offer a hearty, "Of course!" whether it's to make a meal for a sick friend, volunteer on a committee or get tickets to a great concert. I wish I could bottle her energy, creativity and unreserved openness, because it inspires me to do more. 

There are the friends with whom I've whispered about having slightly less-popular political views, and laughed when we weren't afraid to embarrass ourselves with each other in charades. The ones whose husbands like my husband and our kids seamlessly click…somehow the stars aligned just enough for us to know the weekend ski house for our three families is possible.   

Whomever you connect with, I hope it's with honesty, depth and character.  Even though we moved to Wilton to be closer to our east coast family, this Thanksgiving I'm grateful for the good friends that we chanced upon here.

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