Once upon a time I couldn’t go a day without seeing or talking to someone outside my immediate family. And not just strangers at the Post Office or grocery store, either, but actual conversations with people I cared about and who cared about me. I guess they’re called friends. With all the distance and change in our lives, though, those once upon a time everyday friends have turned into occasional and peripheral characters in my current drama of parenting, wife-ing, housekeeping and attempting to make a creative living. In that long list of -ings, though, something very important is missing.
One night in Milwaukee, we left the baby with my parents and went over to Shari’s apartment to hang out with our old buddies and play Wii. It’s not so different from what we used to do when we were all using the same area code. We talked a bit, laughed a lot and totally lost track of time (not the best situation when we got home to a very upset little man, but not the end of the world, either). But that night kind of brought a little nagging feeling back into the center of my head again. And since we got back, I’ve been having trouble not feeling incredibly lonely.
I love the friends I have. I do. And I miss them terribly, and sure, maybe I should call every once in awhile or make more of an effort to keep in touch, but the thing with the friends I’ve had forever is that it’s easy to fall back into step with them when we find ourselves face to face again. I know that they are there anytime I need them, and I hope that they know that I’m never really very far away either. But I am physically so removed from everything. I’m out of the everyday loop. And that’s hard. Because I have no new loops way out here.
I’ve been trying to put myself out there, to make new friends in my neighborhood. Because I like where we live. I really do. The only thing missing is people. Those great people you see on a regular basis and talk to even more frequently. The problem is that a lot of people already have good friend close by. There’s not the kind of room in their lives, the kind of need that I seem to be getting more and more desperate to address. And of course, no one likes desperate.
I feel like I’ve made some good starts here, but I’m not sure there’s anyone I would feel comfortable calling up for a favor, you know? Not that they wouldn’t gladly do something for me or my family, just that I don’t feel like we’re quite at that place in a friendship yet, exactly. Also, the few people I’ve connected with are sort of scattered in a different way. I met one person at a fitness class, a couple others at a playgroup that’s not quite in my back yard, which is tough on the wallet that fills the gas tank, another from my Mason days, and a few more here and there. In other words, I don’t have a group. I’ve gone to meetings of several already established groups, but that has its own challenges. It’s less social. Less a gathering of friends than a group with focus and purpose. And that’s not a bad thing. Those kinds of things get me out of the house and educate me in new and exciting ways. And I do get to talk to people a little bit. It’s just not always the most satisfying because my need goes a little deeper.
I guess the idea is to just keep trying. Keep putting myself out there. We’re going swimming this afternoon. Just me and my boy. And maybe there will be someone at the pool to talk to. But maybe not. And if there’s not, then I have to be okay with that today and try again tomorrow. Or the next day. And so it goes.