I was given one hour to write about something I learned since I woke up this morning.
When I moved to my current house almost 10 years ago, I came in a little guarded. I was leaving an incredible group of friends that I trusted deeply. I found it so hard to recreate that bond.
My new neighborhood was very small and all seemed to travel in different circles. I did find a neighborhood a mile a way with incredible people but the problem was they were very tight and no matter how hard I tried, I always felt like an outsider. I remember one time they were starting a neighborhood supper club where they would pick a different restaurant every month and the first meeting one of the neighbors called me and asked me to join. I was so excited to have someone reaching out that wanted to include me!
Eventually word got to the organizer that I was coming and she called me. It was kind of a startling conversation, but the bottom line was that she wanted it only to be a neighborhood thing. She ended it with (and I’ll never forget her exact words) “Don’t worry, I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at the person that invited you.”
That was pretty much the highlight of creating deep friendships in my hood. I traveled along collecting a number of superficial friends but never really feeling like I fit in anywhere. I didn’t play tennis (EVERYONE here plays tennis.) I didn’t have a babysitter (EVERYONE had a sitter or nanny – playgroups were filled with them.) I didn’t like to go to lunch. I couldn’t take the craziness of the PTO. I hated yoga.
That left me with a lot of alone time with kids. I took them on all kinds of adventures and as much fun as that was and the incredible bond we have (although now at least one of my teenagers hate me, so I’m not sure how useful that bonding was), it was all kind of lonely. I spent A LOT of time calling my friends from my old neighborhood.
Once you’re a grown-up, it’s f’n hard to make friends.
I was invited to a Christmas brunch this morning. I have tons of surface friends that are really great, quality people. It’s just that circumstances don’t let our worlds collide as often as I’d like. Relationships are built by creating memories and joint experiences and life seems so busy, it’s difficult to build those foundations.
The party was filled with dozens of amazing women – I knew all of them and had great conversations with most (well all but one – but that’s a story for another time.) When I filled my plate and thought about sitting down, that’s when it hit me. I haven’t created enough time for anyone to enter my life. I’ve only allowed peripheral friends to barely crack the surface.
I’m not a psychologist, but I kind of think I’ve always kept people at an arms distance away since losing a very close friend and neighbor right after I moved. Ever since then, I rely only on the friends from that past life.
As I stood there with my full plate, I felt alone in this cheerful bright room, and was completely surrounded by people and wondered if there was a place for me. Was there a place for me at the table? Then wouldn’t you know it someone that I’ve known for almost ten years grabbed my arm and said, “Where are you sitting? Come sit with me – I want to laugh.”
As I sat there gossiping and giggling with my dear girlfriend, I felt like the Grinch at the end of the story when his heart grew three sizes that day. We didn’t talk to many other people for the hours we were there, but that experience somehow changed me. No one is going to come knocking on my door inviting themselves in. I’m going to have to open it and go out with my now larger heart and take more risks.
And if that doesn’t work, I guess there’s always tennis.
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