Sunday, 24 November 2013
The Art Of Making New Friends
Saturday afternoon, in a break from my usual routine, of doing not very much. I found myself in the city centre apartment, which belongs to my friend and in between beers and songs we talked about friends and in particular, friendship.
I think, although he hasn't said it that having just come out of a relationship, he has come to realise that the friends he didn't keep up with in the years he spent with his boyfriend have moved on and that friends he and his ex boyfriend shared have picked their side. As we sat on his floor, listening to music and making small talk, he made the exclamation that he would like some 'new friends'. He is not a new person in my life, in fact I have known him for many years but we have never really moved from acquaintance, into good friends. We have many things in common, so there was no reason why we shouldn't be closer, it just never seemed to happen. So that is how I found myself sitting on his floor and going through his CD collection. I was consciously making more effort. I have a great close knit group of friends, a core group and our lives are very much intertwined but sometimes, you do need a break, someone who is just yours, so you can talk about all the crazy stuff you do, that you don't want your core group to know. I met Jay many years ago at a party and we have stayed in contact over the years, through Facebook comments and likes, as I said we have many things in common, so in my quest to make a new friend, I thought to myself, who better than Jay.
So when he made that statement, whilst sipping on his beer, It hadn't occurred to me that he might be looking for the exact same thing. As I made my way home in the evening, it got me thinking.
I was lucky as a child, to have a best friend growing up. With just 2 months between our births, he was always there, we were always friends, stories like, we shared a playpen and a pram have done the rounds in both our families and I had my brother, I have never really struggled to make friends or keep them and there are just two occasions in my life so far, when I have felt like I had no one. I had a solid group of friends in high school but when school finished, I wasn't really prepared for how quickly that group would just disappear. Almost overnight, I found myself without buddies, even my brother moved away at this time, so there was this year in my life, when I had no friends and no real idea on how to make any.
One of the lasting lingering feelings from that time was coming to the harsh conclusion that I was so very uncool. There may have been some situations, in my over eagerness to have a friend, that I might have been pushy or needy whenever (Rarely...!) I was invited to social situations. Which tended to be work parties.
So it goes like this, you have a cool work friend, who tells you about all the fun stuff they do in the weekends and you listen and you smile and you laugh at the right places but really you are dying a little bit inside and they utter those immortal words like 'You should come next time' and then they flutter away, whilst you stand there not able to say a word and you don't sleep for days because you just can't tell if they were being sincere or not. Turns out they weren't.
But it is a feeling that has stayed with me over the years, not having anyone to talk too, about family and life stuff at the time was very difficult and I have been fortunate enough to never having had to experience it again. Even if I didn't have someone to talk about scary life stuff with, what I missed the most was just hanging out, escaping the drudgery of of my daily routine every now and then.
When I moved to Manchester for the first time, I was aware that I was putting myself out there again and for a couple of months, I found myself right back to that insecure place and I was relying on my brother and his boyfriend for my social respite, whilst at the same time living with them. When I tried again a few months later, I had the support of two of my best friends, so when I started working in the city, I quickly made some new friends, who just happened to be the greatest people I had ever met.
That is always the way, whenever you already have something, you have it in abundance but when you need it or want. Tumbleweed. It can by a very tricky mine field, sometimes more precarious than dating. Finding a good friend, that you can trust, rely on and confide in, is far more subtle and understated than finding love. With dating, its out there, both parties are aware of the intentions, with finding a new friend, its hard to decipher the subtle hints of friendship and at what point do you confide in or invite to social occasions and more importantly let them see you at your worst. Plus, you have to figure out what kind of relationship it is. Work friends, acquaintances, best friends, friends of friends, buddies, chums. But really, its not quantity, it is quality. If you have even one person, you can rejoice with, love, laugh and cry with, inconvenience and annoy, spend hours and hours with doing absolutely nothing and calling it the time of your lives. Then count yourself fortunate.
Friendship can be the most important relationship you ever have, people forget how complicated it can be or how beneficial to us for our survival, as a person and a race.