Here is the problem when you like to live in different places around the world and make friends with people from different places around the world: inevitably you end up with a very impressive friend map on facebook, but not much else in the meantime.
I’m waiting/actively searching for my next adventure. In the meantime, I’m back in my hometown. Yee-haw.
Sure this had a certain novelty when I first arrived, but after a while you realize that nothing much has changed, including your desire not to settle down there. So I’m looking for meaningful work that doesn’t make me want to go home each night and drink copious amounts of alcohol to deal with the banality of my current state of existence.
However, while worrying over all of my resume catagories, I realized I should be sending out these resumes in hopes of acquiring friends. My work skills are the same things I’m sending out, hoping to find in friends: adventure, language, dependiblity, good sense of humor…
My local friend group is dwindling. Some left for different parts of the country, some for different parts of the world. At one point I was one of those people who moved far away and accumulated new shiny foreign friends. And, alas, now I’m back and wondering when the new new friendships are going to start?
Out of sheer curiousity, I even went to craigslist and did a quick perusal of women seeking platonic friendships. I glanced at the first three. All were girls within my age group and all sounded cool and apologetic for searching for friends on craigslist. However, even though I applaud them for their courage (or desperation) to finally post a call for friends on craiglist, I couldn’t quite bring myself to respond for a friend date.
I’m a believer in things happening for a reason. I’ve made some good long distance friendships based
off of brief, sparkling moments when you bump into a stranger and you just know: This person and I make a wonderful pair. And there’s so little time together, you jump right to the good stuff: similiar interests, fascinating stories, mini-adventures, singular pictures that bespeak of a life-bonding inside-joke.
And maybe that’s what makes the friendship so great. The equivalent of a romantic fling, these friendship flings leave only time for the good stuff. Then, when we have to part ways we’re left with great memories, maybe a few pictures to load onto social media, and only fond things to say of the other person.
These friendship flings, when properly nurtured (texting an inside joke every month or so, a bday wall post, a youtube video referal), provide you with couches to stay on whenever you might be visiting that part of the country/world.
But, what, I ask you, are we left with in the meantime?
I’m a pro at these long distance friendships, I could practically write a book of rules on these friendship flings. But how in God’s name does someone in their (gulp) mid-twenties, make long lasting, local friends, now adays?
Maybe that only happens when you finally grow up and decide to settle somewhere and stay local.
Oh sure, I’ve got my best friends from elementary school and college, a few of them in the local vicinity. They’ll always be there for me (even if that’s not in the geographic sense). I can tell them the most embarrassing stories and they’ll relate with their different but still embarrassing and weird tales. But other than that, our circles of interest are fading away.
Every couple of years, it seems that I can date someone and for a brief period of time (3-9 months) we have the perfect social life. We amass a solid, unmovable group of friends, much like what you see on programs such as Friends and How I Met Your Mother, and everyone’s jealous of how tight we all are, how cool our parties seem to be, how desirable our one-on-one coffee dates go. And then, like clockwork, we slowly begin to dissassemble. Joe and Alice break up, Peter decides to start his life over in Portland, etc. etc. In fact, it’s cruel really. What I realize we all gelled together over in the first place is the very thing that will tear us apart : we come together over our mutual desire to get out of this town, to try bigger and better things in the great unknown elsewhere, and slowly, we do just that.
And again, I tell you, I’m back to square one.
So this Christmas season, instead of going to Ugly Sweater parties, or having to buy a million gifts for my million friends, I’m sending a million post cards off to different corners of the world, praising past glory days and pledging to see them in-person again…. all the while nursing that cynical realization that I probably won’t see them again in this life when I need them the most. They’ll only appear in the most casual of happenstances, like a reward for good mental health and personal grooming.
I probably won’t use those fancy friendship finder websites… at least not yet. I’m still the let-lightening-strike sort of romantic, especially when it comes to friendships. I’m sure the right people will wander into my life just as surely as they have in the past and we’ll have some good times. In the meantime, I’ll value those friends I’ve been fortunate to make over the years and keep the correspondence flowing. Hopefully someday I’ll settle down and not have to be content with stale acquaintances, but develop mutual interest pools of well-meaning friends.