Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Best Friends Forever

I've joined a little bootcamp group with a bloggy pal of mine (M of Thin Pink Line) who happens to work very close to where I live. I have to admit, meeting her for the first time, it was a little like meeting a rock star. I knew so much about her life, her feelings, her guts really, I felt like a fan. She was sweet and goofy and open-hearted. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to have a real conversation as we were both too busy sucking wind as we ran up and down stairs, did squats and basically prayed to make it through the hour. As I was walking the dog the other day, I heard a car frantically honking, I looked around expecting to see my girlfriend in her Mini Cooper or X-terra. Didn't see her so I walked on, but it was M who had been trying to get my attention. But given the noise and traffic in that area, and my poor eyesight, if I don't see a vehicle I recognize, it's not surprising I didn't see her. Sorry M, I'll wave to you next time!

It's kind of sad that as adults it's so hard to make new friends. It's not that we don't want to, it's that we don't actually have the time anymore. We've got long commutes home, husbands/partners to spend time with, our usual friends (whom we barely see that much anymore anyway unless we live next door to them), work all day or all evening, elders to take care of, and just the plain old sit down with the TV and not want to talk to anyone time. You have to choose between gym time and shopping time and dog time and tax time and (if you're black, hair time) and gotta get waxed time. In my case, there's also chanting time and meeting time and planning for the meeting time (Oh, yuck, just now I had to go out and clean up dog barf from my living room rug. Why don't you go out on the patio, dog?!!!!) And when I am acting or directing, there goes all free time.

There's people you meet at work and you can make friends. On rare occasion, you socialize with them, but once you stop working with them, that friendship wilts and dies due to lack of nurturing. When you couple up, you can lose friends and gain ones you don't care for that much. You have to start mixing friends and that doesn't always work. The squeaky clean friends vs. the stoner slacker friends. The work friends vs. the long time friends. East coast vs. west coast. You get the picture. In many cases, when you go through infertility treatments, you lose friends. Pregnant ones vs. yet-to-be vs. not-ever-will-be ones. Sometimes you make new friends. The ones forged out of shared ill circumstances. Which is tricky cause you may not have anything in common other than that one thing. Do you go to church? Nope. Do you like scrapbooking? Nope. Are you infertile? Yep. Hey, that's great, me too! Let's be friends.

I love meeting new people and I hope to continue to make new friends for my whole life. It's okay that I don't spend every spare second with new friends. I don't define friends as someone I know for a long time. Sometimes the connection is just pure and simple, good enough as it is. I can make time for a coffee even just for an hour. I want to try to give them all of my attention when I am with with them. I don't think I feel a need to make everyone a BFF (best friends forever). People come and go in your life, sometimes they are there the whole way, sometimes not.

My hubby and I met a man from Holland in Bali 9 years ago. We were in Ubud at a government tourist board looking for tickets to a cultural event and we struck a conversation and he was with us on this old rickety bus that took us freaked out tourists down a long, bumpy and dark middle of nowhere road to what turned out to be a terrific Monkey dance performance. We ended up going to a spa he recommended and then met up for lunch. We emailed periodically for years and finally we met up with him in Vancouver. He came just to see us. He died 2 years ago. We found out because his brother emailed everyone on his hotmail account. I never forgot him. He was such a pure spirit, he had friends all over the world, he was kind and open, but we barely knew him. We sent flowers to the funeral home. If I had been there, I would have liked to have said that I loved a man we barely knew. He lived his life with no regrets, experiencing people and places as if he'd never see them again. Which in hindsight, was true. I'll never forget him and every time I pass the B&B he stayed at or meet someone who is Dutch, I think of him. Michael.

That's the power of connection.


luna said...

I love this post. It's so true. How time dictates so much as we grow older, how hard it is to make new friends, how easy it is to lose touch with old ones as we drift away into our own every day, but also how even the most chance encounter can forge such a strong powerful connection.

It always amazes me too how much more a kinship I have with my "virtual" friends than those I see and know in "real" life. Of course I realize that's kind of sad too, but true. ~luna

loribeth said...

What great observations, & I totally agree. I don't have one "best friend" anymore, unless you can count dh (but sometimes you just need to talk to a girlfriend...!). I have friends from various pockets & chapters of my life -- work, former coworkers, support group, university roommate. It IS hard to make friends & your description of how busy everyone's life is (with or without kids) is very familiar. I have some friends that I only see a few times a year, but whenever we get together, we just pick up again where we left off, no problem.

Thin Pink Line was one of the very first blogs I read, but then she went PP & I lacked the nerve to ask for access. :(

Anonymous said...

I've often thought the same thing about how hard it was to make friends. And you're so right about the different kind of friends you make. Many times I feel as if my life experiences, especially the long IF journey I've been on, limits the number of friends I make. More because it's difficult to relate to the majority of people my age who ARE mothers or fathers and whose lives seem to revolve around them.

I agree with Luna ... I'm finding more kinship with those I've met here in the blogosphere.

Lori Lavender Luz said...

Great post, DS.

Remember when you were a kid how you could just go up to someone and say, "let's be friends"? We lose that along the way, and become suspicious of anyone who might say that to us.

There is something so intimate about the distance afforded by the internet. We judge and are judged the by the insides more than the outsides.

I would love to meet you sometime, you rock star. :-).

Pamela T. said...

Most excellent. It's such a rush to get that instant chemistry -- like you could have once been running around the playground together or having sleep overs in an earlier time. We're making new friends with a couple in Germany my husband got to know through work. We literally hung out for an entire day -- breakfast, lunch and dinner ... and could have hung out indefinitely if we didn't need sleep. And the funny things is (btw: they're also IVF vets) we NEVER talked about infertility or our experiences. We did, tentatively, the first time we met 18 months ago, but now that that's out of the way and we have a common understanding it's like we didn't need to relive it further. We also relished *not* having to second guess when the kid talk or other parent-related stories were going to come either. It's amazing how many other topics there are to discuss that don't involve those often awkward topics. It was plain and simply delightful.

One View said...

I was just saying to Dh that we need to make new friends. I think during our IF, we've lost so many and it taught me who my real friends are. But I know there must be still a lot of good hearted compassionate and authentic people out here and I'm open to making new friends. I remember when I was in school, it was so easy to make friends and meet new people. The opportunity just isn't there and its true we just don't have the time anymore.

Wordgirl said...

I just got goosebumps all over my body. I love your story about Michael.

I met a man once at a writing conference in Squaw Valley -- he was recovering from a bad break-up with his boyfriend, I was too -- we had this instant, powerful friendship -- that crackling connection. We did a hike that, at the time, kicked our ass, but he told me later he'll always think back on that moment because it's something he didn't ever imagine he'd do. He sends me email every once in awhile from Santa Fe and it brings me such immediate joy.

Isn't strange? Do you suppose we just keep ourselves distant so often from new people and new connections? I've felt it harder in this city where I grew up than anywhere else to connect to people as an adult. I have old friendships thast survive on the basis of love and shared history -- but not the kind of laughing, talking, 'yes, yes, that's it's exactly' kind of friendship that I miss so.


You hit the nail on the head. I'm going to be much more grateful for those connections I do have all day today.