We’ve been out of the city for almost two years. It doesn’t feel like long but it does at the same time. In the city, I was surrounded by my tribe; people who know me best and have seen me at my worst. My ride or dies. I’ve always been good at making friends and I have been lucky to be surrounded by a great community here yet I still can’t shake that I am going on dates as I make new friends.
Here’s what I mean by that: when you’re dating, you are getting to know each other. Learning about each other. Trying to impress each other a little. I had been living in a world of steady support and love and understanding. People who got my sarcasm and who knew what they could tease me about and that I wasn’t being a flake if I canceled on them. With new friends, it feels more like dating. You don’t want to say the wrong thing or present yourself as a delightful weirdo no one quite understands.
When we have people over now, it is like prepping for the Academy Awards minus the swag bags. Should we start doing swag bags?! We want to have snacks, beverages, our apartment should be clean with our favorite things on display. We want to appear cool, collected, adult-like but FUN. We don’t want to overshare but we always find ourselves doing so because most of the time, we just talk to each other and we are dying to hear another human’s voice. We want to be funny but not like we are competing for a Comedy Central half hour.
I find myself having deja vu when I was single and dating in the city. I question everything. Did I send too many texts? If I cancel, will I be asked out again? Did my witty comment come off as a mean girl criticism? Oh god, do I talk about my cats too much? The last one isn’t a real concern; I can never talk about my cats too much.
Sometimes I feel like we are Lily and Marshall in that episode of “How I Met Your Mother” where they just want couple friends but go over the line by making a video collage of their evening with Barney and Robin among various other ridiculousness. When we do find ourselves out and being social, I feel this strange urge to document it so I can savor it and remind myself that people like me, they really like me!
When does a friendship become solid? I never noticed before. Perhaps that is because when we are younger, friendships just click and we accept it. You like the color blue and I like the color blue, let’s have sleepovers every Saturday. Now as an adult, I have a more watchful, critical eye over everything that comes and goes from my life. I feel more calculated and selective in who I surround myself with, especially being out of my comfort zone. I assume other adults are in similar territory where we just don’t have time for people who don’t get us. Because of this, I am paranoid I am not worth the time of others and find myself at times not being completely myself as I try to be accepted. It’s basically middle school over again but having the same favorite color isn’t quite enough.
My birthday is this weekend. It’s been a tough time for me since we’ve moved. In the city, it took minimal planning, just the time and place and my people would show up. Throughout the years, the tribe grew with new friends from jobs and plays or movies. The core stayed the same. As I got older, I narrowed it down to dinners or a brunch followed by board games. Now, even older (oh God) and married, my husband has become my birthday champion and, away from most of my closest friends, I don’t know how to birthday outside of what he plans. My husband always plans great birthdays, usually for just the two of us, which I love and look forward to every year. I do still desire to have some sort of gathering with friends but I don’t know how to accomplish it any more. I feel like I’m over making a Facebook invite for that type of event and I don’t enjoy group texts (no one does). I don’t have everyone’s email and I also don’t know who to invite. I still feel so new and I’ve met so many wonderful new people but I’ve hung out with so few in real life aside outside of events or show because it goes back to the dating scenario where I feel like I have to ask people on dates and I’m the most awkward. A birthday party invite seems too soon in some cases. Are we that serious? Does this mean we are going steady? Do I think this is more than it is?
It’s more unchartered territory for me. I mean, isn’t it always? I’ve been to a few birthdays of new friends and they’ve been great but I fall back into the questions: Do I bring a present? A card? Is this card funny or stupid? Are birthday cards lame? Birthday text or Facebook post or Instagram collage? How can I find out these things without creating a Q&A sheet?
Many of my new friends are younger than me. Sometimes I feel like a tourist in a foreign country. Sometimes I just feel old. When you’re 30+ (oh God) and married, it seems people in smaller towns such as this might assume you don’t do anything. And well, we usually don’t. We are homebodies at heart however I am at a point of craving the after work beer or post show drink. I miss that and am not sure how to get it here because it doesn’t seem that common. I, too, love to just come home after work and put on sweatpants, make dinner, and read or Netflix the night away. A few times a week, I toss the gym in there. But it can get lonely. And boring. I try and drop hints that I am cool (all a facade) and want to hang but maybe I’m too awkward to be clear. The times I have steeled myself and been brave to ask, people are busy so I find myself discouraged to reach out again. Or maybe everyone hates me. See, there is that lovely little anxiety monster whispering that the reason I feel left out or lonely is because no one wants to be seen with me in public.
I think a unique factor is that I haven’t been in many theatrical shows or films. I’ve been involved in comedy and that is where all my lovely new friends are from because we bonded in class and performances and see each other every week practically. But there is a bond that happens when you’re in a play and rehearse for months or on a film that shoots for more than two days. I’ve been lucky to have several film opportunities but one I was the only character and we shot fast and furious and the other was a short shoot with the cast being my husband and another actor who doesn’t live in state. It’s almost too obvious to me and only now writing this do I realize that many of my friends have come from projects I’ve done. Or a job. I now work in an office for a very small team and not a big restaurant or club with a large staff who spend their downtime chatting. Downtime isn’t a thing in an office and if it is, we can be found scrolling social media or the news silently. These changes are definitely factors in how I feel in navigating adult friendships.
Shit, adulthood is weird. Making friends as an adult is weird. Do I have a hopeful message for this blog? Not really. Doesn’t mean I’m short on hope, I just find myself swimming along, making these observations.
We should go back to trading Pogs and Slammers as a sign that we are buds for life. Or maybe enemies for life depending on how seriously you took Pogs.