I’m tired of trying to make new friends, and I’m tired of not having enough friends.
See, here’s the thing. I’ve never really been good at making friends anyway. I’ve always been the sort who made friends from overexposure. That is, I go to school with the person and am in the same class as they are, or we shared an afterschool activity so we saw each other very week, or we lived next door to each other. You get the picture, right? Besides, I’m of the opinion that when you’re young, you compromise a lot to be with your friends. I never told my secondary school friends that I LOVED country music…that would probably have been social suicide at a time when all the people I hung out with listened to R N’ B, hip hop and rap. Nor did I let on just how much of a thrill I got from winning a chess match and going to tournaments. That would have been so not cool!
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned who I am, as do most of us, and know what I can and cannot compromise on. I’ve also stopped compartmentalising my friends so that I don’t have ‘music friends’ and ‘chess friends’ and ‘dollhouse’ friends who must NEVER, EVER meet. I want friends who tick all my boxes. People I can share ideas with and I don’t have to watch what I say because they get me. I can make outlandish jokes and say crude things and I don’t have to backtrack or apologise because they know who I am deep down and they just, you know, they get me.
friends a friend like that before. My very first true best friend was that way. We got on spectacularly well. We went to school together, were in the same class two years running, most of our afternoon activities together, we read the same authors, listened to the same music, formed a dance group with two other friends. Hell, we were even in the school marching band together and both played the trumpet… I think she drew a line at my whole chess thing but apart from that, we were as solid as a pilgrim’s heel.
I really believe we would have stayed friends to this day had my parents not moved countries and time and growing up apart not taken their toll. We’ve kept in touch but its different now with fifteen years between us and most of those spent not even knowing where each of us lived. The only thing I’ll say is that facebook is a miraculous, wonderful tool.
The major problem is that I remember that friendship so well that now it seems to be the yardstick by which all my future friendships have been measured. No one has been able to fill the shoes left empty by a girl I met when I was thirteen. Sure I’ve grown up and realised that I have to have different friends that I must compartmentalise…again, but why? I have my work friend and the friend I met in college and the friend I shared a house with in college and the friend I met while learning a new language, but this has all been through major efforts on my part and by deciding to make a conscious effort to leave out big chunks of my life and not pursuing certain statements that are said, in case the atmosphere becomes too uncomfortable.
As we grow older it seems to be socially correct to ring your friends before dropping in on them, to share interests in the way of “oooh, I’ll call Tom for a sci-fi movie, Jane and her husband for Saturday night dinner parties, Bill for all day shopping…” And these friends very rarely meet each other, for fear they might not get along and then they’ll wonder why you have friends like that.
Anyway, I digress, the long and short of it all is that I now find myself in a position where I have given up on trying to make friends. I’ve tried having Irish friends, the Irish being renowned for being such friendly people. But maybe it’s me as I’ve only managed to make three close friends in all my time here, the last one only a year ago. Don’t get me wrong, the ones I have made are absolute gems, and I feel like part of their families. But surely, I should have made more acquaintances? Most evenings it’s just me, my other half and our little daughter and a very silent phone…yeah, the world’s smallest violin is playing somewhere for me.
The majority of friends I’ve made have been immigrants like me, and most of them will eventually leave. This sometimes leaves me with the feeling that what’s the point in getting close to them if they will only leave in the end?
Take this example.
My little girl is now three months old and I thought it would be great to meet other new moms and make a friend in the process. Common element – young child! I picked very carefully by going to a local breastfeeding group populated by mostly first time mums. I met a lovely person. Her son is two weeks younger than my bundle of joy and we hit it off straight away…the I find out her and her husband are Australian and will be returning to Australia for good next week.
I mean REALLY!
It’s come to a stage where whenever I meet a fellow immigrant, the two questions one of us will ask will be ‘how long have you been here’ and ‘how long are you staying’. Once that’s out of the way, you can then make up your mind whether it’s worth making the effort to be friends or not.
But I won’t give up. I’ve decided to be a brazen hussy where friendships are concerned, and grab the proverbial bull by the horns. Great friendships must be like great loves. You have to be entitled to at least two in one lifetime. The one that breaks your heart (tick) and the one that helps you believe in friendships again (waiting to be ticked). And as a great romantic, I cannot give up just yet. Today, I gave my phone number to two women within minutes of meeting them. One was on the bus on my way to town, and one was sitting in the next seat beside me at a cafe. Both had babies that looked young enough to be around the same age as mine, and they were both first time mommies, so I won’t have to worry about boring them to death with baby talk.
So I now have two dates to the movies next Tuesday….wish me luck!