I have always been great at meeting people. I chat with them, get to know them and love them – easy as pie.
At least, it used to feel like that.
The older I become, the more difficult it seems to make meaningful connections. At almost fifty-two years of age, recently separated from my husband of twenty-eight years, and living in yet another ‘new’ area (I spent my first eighteen years less than 30 minutes from where I now sit, but when you are gone from a place for half your life, things change to the point of feeling new), I find myself with no one to call when I need a ride home from the car repair shop. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have at least twenty close friends in my phone list, but the majority of them live – at best – two hours away (at worst, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean). Most of my family either live too far from me or are not available in this type of situation. I seriously never had to think about things like this before.
I wonder how much of the problem stems from aging, self-reliance, or the culture in general? I worry that the people my age already have their fill of relationships to maintain, and are left with no time or energy to add me to their list. Perhaps in the interest of independence, I have become so good at doing everything for myself that I have forgotten how to cultivate friends I can call on for help.
Maybe my friendship problem is simply the result of a culture that relies on hashtags and thirty-second video clips for connection, while I pine for the long-lost days of front porch news over iced tea, and the neighborhood kids playing mosquito-ridden games of kick-the-can.
I imagine I found it easier to develop deep friendships in college or church, as a parent or military spouse, simply because in those life situations I was surrounded by people like me (shared age, shared values, shared beliefs, or shared circumstances). But if connection is a function of like-mindedness or being in the right place at the right time, what if I never again find anyone else who thinks like me, or I end up no longer able to find the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time?
Yet, it stands to reason that I have felt this way before – I have lived in approximately nine distinct locations over a twenty-eight year period, for pity’s sake. If memory serves, after each major relocation, getting the relationship ball rolling was a struggle. Every. Damn. Time. This time just feels that much harder.
You would think that after so much practice, I would have developed a formula for meeting the person destined to be my next incredible BFF, but if such a formula exists, I have not discovered it. I am not even sure if I know how it happens in the first place. But remembering the struggle, knowing I have been here before, and, at the same time, looking back with amazement on all of the people I have been privileged to call friends, I can well believe that she is working/eating/exercising/living somewhere in the nearby vicinity.
Will we cross paths before the car’s next tune-up? Only time will tell.