Nice to hear from you, daishastro. Of course YOU are the only one qualified to evaluate your situation, so if remaining connected (to the degree YOU choose) is providing something you need, by all means, continue! At least you have TWO friends there! I remember that some of my closest friends when I was in the SGI were gay men (I'm a woman). You're female, I take it? I've had friends within the SGI, but never long term - something always came up. Either they lived too far away, or...I don't know. It just wasn't happening.
I was reading Gabor Maté's excellent book, "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Encounters With Addiction": Book Review
<-- That site has an *excellent* introduction written by the author. You can read portions of it here, if you're interested: Read Excerpts Here!!
Anyhow, one point he made is about "unconditionally positive regard," and how this is the most important factor in healthy and healing human relationships. This is someone who, no matter what you do, likes you and thinks you're *great*. Someone who enjoys your company and who has no desire to change you into someone else. This attitude is unfortunately all too rare here in the US - I can only imagine it's similarly rare across the pond. Don't reveal your location, BTW - maintain your privacy. Don't reveal personal information on-line.
I have 5 people in my life now from whom I receive unconditional positive regard, so I'm extremely fortunate. I hope you'll be able to move closer to London soon - urban areas offer a much greater choice of social options.
Say, since you brought up cheap people wanting to mooch rides, I remember this one incident. I grew up in Switzerland, so I've always had an affinity for things European. Well, one of the members in my district was a Polish woman, so we had a connection, so to speak. We used to drive down to San Diego to go visit the large Asian grocery store there - we took this one elderly lady until she died. So I was going down there with my two kids, and this Polish SGI member asks to ride along. Fine. Well, she drives to my house, parks, and gets in with a Tupperware container. She opens it, and it contained the stinkiest chicken you ever smelled! My small daughter said, "Ew. What's that smeww?" The member explained to me that she hadn't eaten all day and she needed to eat. In *my* car. When she could have eaten in her *OWN* car before getting into MY car. Whatever. So we get back - it's an hour drive each way - and she says she wants to contribute for gas. Again, fine. She pulls out a big handful of *small change* - mostly pennies and nickels! - and explains that her husband just emptied out all his pockets so here ya go O_O I was speechless! It was less than a dollar! So THEN she asks me if I want some pots. By now, there's no doubt in my mind what I'm dealing with, so I ask, "Ceramic or plastic?" She opens her trunk to show me the cheap-ass plastic pots that the plants from the garden shop come from, you know, the black temporary pots that even recycling doesn't want! "No thanks," says I. Damn! Last time I let her ride with me ANYWHERE!
Oh, and did I mention that she was wealthy? Yeah, she and her husband lived in a house worth almost a million dollars, and she made well over $100,000/year! Giving me her husband's small change??? OMG!