Sunday, June 20, 2010

Making Friends

In my perpetual quest for a satisfying life this question has been plaguing me lately. How do you make friends in a new town? As kids, if you move to a new place you have the arena of school in which to sample the various flavors of friends. As an adult if you move with your job, the workplace offers an instant supply of personalities to connect with. Time and routine also create friendships. I have lived in Whatcom County for 16 years and have made friends in a handful of places, the library, the grocery, post-office, the farmers market, work interactions.

Mark bought his place in Abbottsford with one singular reason in mind, to be closer to me. He works at home by himself as I do. 6 years have passed and I look around this town and think how the hell do we meet people here? Don't get me wrong, I have many friends. I am not forlorn and friendless unable to connect with other humans I just want some friends here in Abbottsford, someone to play cards with on Saturday night over drinks. It presents an interesting sociological problem. How do a couple of people in their 40's make friends in a town where they don't got to church or school, or even work, not to mention that we spend a lot of time away.

I am solution oriented personality so I think what can I do. What if I put a little flyer up around the hood that read, Professional married couple seeks similar for light social activity, cards, tennis, rides in a big red car, BBQ-ing. And our phone number. Seriously what would happen? Swingers is what comes to mind for me, freaks, and other lonely misfits. So sad, I need a friend, will you be my friend? It's more complicated than all that of course, developing friends.

I walk the dog in a park near us and occasionally I see someone who looks nice and we might stop and talk about dogs. But then it's time to go and it seems so socially awkward to suddenly blurt out, I need a friend here in town. Here's my card, call me anytime. Well not anytime because I am not actually here that often but sometimes I am. I met a woman with a really fat Weimaraner and thought okay now we're getting somewhere but she lived up the coast. Thwarted I was.

Yesterday I ran into a woman who attended the same dog obedience class as we did 4 years ago when Luna was a pup. She had a little fuzzball dog called "Butters", a name some of you will recognize from the long hours you spend watching "South Park". She barely recognized me but was happy to chat once I explained who I was again. The whole time we talked I was thinking, give her your number she is funny, you could be friends. She lives in town and probably has enough friends already, that's the other thing, by this age people seem to have all the friends they can manage, why take on more?

I have 259 friends on Facebook. According to Mashable this is the optimum number any one person can hope to interact with in a meaningful way, which really means that of that 259, about 40 of them actually participate regularly in normal FB activities, posting pictures, making status updates, sharing links. I like Facebook but it is a slightly empty experience after a time and sometimes I just want to encounter a real person. But how?

At my place we have friends near and far who are happy to come over. We go to town occasionally and meet friends there for music and meals and holiday parties. When we got to Vancouver we have a mix of friends and family we routinely encounter. Occasionally some of the Vancouver people pilgrimage out to Abbottsford but it is a long drive home especially if you have been well fed and watered. Our American friends don't come to Abbottsford often, I feel it is an imposition to invite people up because of the border crossing, not everyone is comfortable with the scrutiny and frankly some people just can't cross so I don't ask.

Again, what to do? Join something? A quilting group, museum boosters, tennis or running club. It all takes time. I just want to see some nice couple who sort of resembles us in natural fibers out with a dog and at the risk of coming across as completely strange, say hey there, need a friend? Me too, here's my card.


syd said...

Ooooh, cards on a Saturday night over drinks. That sounds really fantastic. Can I sign up? :)

Anonymous said...

I wish I wasn't already your friend so I could be your friend in Abbottsford. Dang. You'll find your peeps! Check out I found moms when I landed here in Montclair. You can look up any interest under the sun in any city.

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