I Miss Having a Tribe

There is no specific definition for a tribe because each tribe is unique in some way. They generally may be a group of related individuals, but one tribe may have a different purpose or different practices than another.

As a child, my tribe was my extended Polish family. In high school, my tribe was my group of close friends. In college, my tribe was my sorority. In the job I held for more than 20 years, my tribe was comprised of the women in my office. Also, as an adult, I was a part of two socially active tribes: a group of five women kindred spirits, and a larger ballroom dance community.  In each case, creativity was valued and nurtured.

According to Psychology Today, joining a group and finding our “tribe” can improve our happiness and emotional resilience.

1. Belonging to a group and feeling identified with those in that group is an important aspect of our identity and sense of self. In fact, having a strong sense of group identity can actually help buffer us when we feel wronged or attacked…..

2. Our group identity often gives us a sense of common purpose around the pursuit of common goals..

3. We are not only more likely to get support from people within our “tribe,” but we are likely to experience their support as more valuable and more meaningful. This happens because we believe fellow “tribe members” are more likely to truly “get” how we feel so their support and validation resonates on a deeper level than support offered by those who are not members of our “tribe.”

For various reasons, I have been unable to find my tribe, mostly because: I am not a morning person, I don’t drive at night, I do not subscribe to any specific political party, I am limited physically by the effects of arthritis, and I moved to a town that has limited creative opportunities.

What I really miss is being in the company of women who are kindred spirits.

For a time pre-Covid, when I organized an afternoon writing group of elders, I was able to generate a sense of community for myself. After six years, the pandemic and other circumstances brought an end to that tribe. I do not have the energy to try to start another writing group.

I have tried some activities at the senior center that were not scheduled for the early morning, but I just didn’t “click” with the offerings or the people. I could not get over the feeling of being an outsider.

I fear that it’s just too late in my life to find the wherewithall to create another tribe, and I can’t seem to find an existing one that matches my values, interests, and needs.

Mostly, I really miss being part of a group of female kindred spirits.


My Pitch for a Movie: a true story

A Love Story for the Aged (and the ages): two divorced and discouraged octogenarians find each other through an unusual internet glitsch. A true story.

Free-spirited and agnostic, she had been divorced and actively single since her forties. A buddhist and divorced four times, he is just getting over a bankruptcy. He occupies a room in the home of his daughter, who is a naturalist specializing in wild edibles; she has two rooms in the home of her family (daughter, son-in-law, grandson, two cats, and golden retriever).

Each had subscribed to internet dating sites, she out of curiosity and boredom, he in search of a Pisces soul mate, no farther away than 25 miles. Each had given up and canceled their subscriptions.

Then, one day she gets an email from Match.com saying that they have found a match for her in the next town. When she clicks on the link, unbeknownst to her, it takes her to some other website profile. Still thinking he is a neighbor, she is intrigued by how he describes himself. And he says he plays the djembe, which she does as well. So, she sends him a Match.com response, citing things they have in common and telling him a little about herself.

The next day, she receives an email from him sent to her personal email address (something Match.com doesn’t provide). Intrigued by her response and wanting to confirm that she was an actual person and was really born in March, he used his search skills to track her down.

A few emails later, they discover that they are both Pisces, born 32 hours and 150 miles apart, she one day before him. Now they live a driveable 50 miles apart. Their likes and dislikes mirror their Pisces designation, so five days and 120 emails back and forth (escalating to bordering on lasciviousness), they decide to meet in person at a state park near where he lives. Delighted with their mutual honesty, he saves all of their emails.

How two elders, who live with their families an hour’s ride apart, and who no longer drive at night, manage to escalate their relationship into a committed one is a story for the aged (and the ages), with afternoon meetings at a mall, intimate conversations on the front seat of his old Subaru Forester, and, finally, navigating cheap motels and experimenting with her medical marijuana.

It is a story full of humor and heart as these two elders create ways to overcome the obstacles of circumstance and physical limitation to embark on the last intimate and romantic adventure of their lives.

Copyright 2003

all rights reserved

Elaine Frankonis


Like Lazarus

Like Lazarus, this personal blog periodically comes back to life. This time in the midst of major world crises — war and death, planetary destruction, political insanity.

I am feeling lost in the middle of all of this — tired, unconnected, useless.  The tiredness is overwhelming.  Nothing inspires me.  So I sit down to write to try to tap into that place deep within me where there must still be signs of life.  It takes an effort just to do that much.

I  continue to struggle with the inability to fall asleep.  A combination of Abilify and Melatonin seems to have begun working.  Time will tell.  The Abilify was prescribed (added to my depressive meds) because last year I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2, which means, while I don’t get manic, I do have periods of significant mood swings that affect my life.

But I am still tired during the day, and nothing seems to pique my interest — no crafts, no projects…  I only occasionally leave the house.  It doesn’t help that the magnificent maple tree outside my window is intently shedding dry brown leaves instead of turning its usual Autumn color palette. The brittle leaves are piling up in inches-thick mounds.

Notice that none of my neighbors have leaves in their yards.  It must annoy them to have the breezes send some of ours onto their well-manicured lawns.  My son-in-law usually mows the fallen leaves into mulch as the season progresses, but this pile-up is overwhelming.  When he has time, he will figure out what to do with them.

I have plenty of time, but I can’t seem to figure out what I want to do.  I check the calendar my senior center and circle programs to consider.  But all I do is consider.

The one thing that keeps me going is my relationship with the man to whom Match.com accidentally sent me, even though I canceled my subscription years ago.  The same age as I am, and a fellow Pisces, he amazes me with his perseverance and positive attitude. We both struggle with health issues (I had my right knee replaced last June), and we live an hour’s drive apart. So getting together can be a challenge, but we manage.  And having lunch every other Friday with him and his sister is also an incentive.

I saw something on the senior center page that I am considering.  They are looking for town residents to help “build an age-friendly community….help shape the future of an Age and Dementia Friendly East Longmeadow”.  Well, I sure know about age and dementia, and I sure would like to become part of some community.

Meanwhile, the poor Palistinian people are being annihilated.  Where is there justice in all of this? Gaza is about the size of Philadelphia; Israel in a little smaller than Massachusetts, but has a strong military.  Although Israel is fighting Hamas, it is killing  ordinary Palistinians who  have nothing to do with Hamas. Looks like David and Goliath, and Goliath is going to win. Why isn’t neighboring Egypt offering to take Palistinian refugees, who are caught in a cage with no way out?  Gaza and the innocent people in it are fodder. And America is backing Goliath.  At least, why aren’t we working with Egypt to rescue the women and children of Gaza?