Making New Friends. In Real Life.
It’s Saturday night. I’m home from what I would call an adult play date. A platonic rendezvous in which two people participate voluntarily, to build a friendship. It’s pretty awkward for the first hour, just like any other date. It also is a lot more challenging that actual dating. There are no moments of physical attraction to keep you going. Since the connection has to be on an emotional and mental level, you have momentary struggles finding the right conversation. It almost feels like walking into a maze. In the beginning, it seems like a great idea. Then you walk through the maze and that’s when the feelings of panic and anxiety kick in. You don’t know what to expect. You don’t know where this is going. You can’t see an exit and it is stifling. You just want to turn around and go home. But then you get the hang of it and you walk around, get to see these cool fountains and the birds are chirping and I’ve clearly made this maze up in my head, but sooner than you expect, you reach the end of the maze and it really wasn’t so bad.
I think mine went well. We had been texting for a while now, after having worked together a couple of times on events at a bar I’m associated with. But today was the first time we decided to do something together, outside of work. We watched a play on our play date (see what I did there), so there wasn’t much talking involved. We picked an easier maze. Captain America is glad I now have a friend who I can go watch plays with while he does more fun things. Like Play ‘Fall Out 4’ and grow cucumbers. Yes. We’re now gardening. The absence of squashes and pumpkins in the country I live in inspired him to grow them on his own. And some more. I’m the helper elf.
A bunch of my friends I went to school with were in the audience, as well. Since one of them was acting, it came as no surprise that I would bump into the rest. I really admire how after all these years, they stuck together and remained friends. Two of them got married to each other, spouses and partners are welcome to join and they meet often enough to still like each other. Sounds unreal, almost. I thought I sensed some awkwardness when they saw my friend and not Capt. But it could have been all in my head.
For some reason, the last few really good friendship/ relationship based articles I’ve read have been from the Fashion & Style section of the New York Times. I guess you could call it my current source of validation. An article called ‘Friends of a Certain Age’ resonated with me. It is about the difficulty in making friends in your 30s and 40s and how the period of making ‘Best Friends 4 LYF’ is kind of over in your 20s. To quote, it says,
“Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends.”
And I’ve been picky from the start. Also, I’m not a very good friend either. Probably because of the introvert in me. And how awkward I get. I say ridiculous things and not because I mean them. They just happen. Like word vomit. Today I asked a couple if their engagement was still on. TO THEIR FACES. Which is why I feel the reason why I’m still ‘best friends’ with Malaikah and Nilay is because they live approximately 13,000 kilometers away. I meet them on an average of once a year and communicate with them over FaceTime and Whatsapp. Not too confrontational, yet enough to let them know that I care.
So will this budding friendship last? I don’t know. But we did Snapchat photos of ourselves together and coincidentally, at the exact same time, captioned them as ‘Play Date’.