I’ve never found it easy to make friends. Almost every kid who grew up watching the show Friends has longed for ones like that, as have I. Since my wedding consisted of a small and intimate gathering of people, I had to pick specifically whom to invite, saving the bigger list for the reception party. This was not at all a tough choice to make, as I realized there were but a handful of people I needed there at that ceremony. Perhaps by the time people hit their latter twenties, this is a common enough event. The number of friends steadily dwindles down and you’re left with a handful that will remain yours for a lifetime. And most of these people, I’ve known for a long time. New friends are fewer and getting fewer still, it seems.
I’ve lived in three cities for a significant time period each and I have dear friends from each. This latest phase, this post-wedding life, will be a year old very soon (How did that happen!) and I am only just beginning to find people here that could become important to me. You know how it is. How you meet some people at a party or dinner, and you begin talking and discover many shared interests. Which then serve up so many avenues for future conversations. Then they’re added to your Facebook, the obligatory mutual liking of pictures, posts and updates follow, then perhaps texting. There’s a pattern that is obeyed almost always, this steady progression of events. Then, usually, a big nothing.
Almost all of us have grown up having a rather large bunch of friends, of which there are definitely some whom your parents (or an older brother, perhaps?) disapprove of. I sure have! It’s mildly funny now to recall some conversations that have come up due to this. But the number of people I talk to and share with on a regular basis has been steadily decreasing for a while now, and I can see this happens to almost everyone. For some of us, our bonds with family become stronger as we grow older.
Sometimes Facebook can make it seem like you’re the only person who doesn’t make friends effortlessly wherever you go, but FB is the lens through which people wish others saw them. Spend too much time on FB and no matter who you are and what your life may be like, you end up with a vague dissatisfaction that is born from too much social networking. Sometimes I don’t know why I am still on that site, as it has nothing to do with any of the enduring friendships I enjoy. For every friend I have, we’ve bonded over a single conversation that goes beyond a simple discussion of likes or opinions or things like that. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact nature of this, but there has been one exchange that has turned an acquaintance into something more. It’s when they, or I, have shared something that just unlocks a friendship for us. Perhaps it is this way for everybody, I am not sure. But for me, it can be no other way.
This post came about from a conversation I had with the H this week about how our parents would’ve been when they were 30 and 28, our ages. For one, they were already parents by this time. And we couldn’t imagine them at that age or now, spending too much time thinking about social relationships the way that me or my contemporaries do. They have deep bonds with their friends as well, but with a lot less talking, meeting, and planning than our current relationships entail. It’s another one of those things that has changed irreversibly between their generation and mine.