I was posed the question “would you be friends with members of your family if you met them today?”. The answer is a resounding No. Not to offend the members of my blood line (and to ease the tension) let me also throw in the observation that I would likely not even be friends with my friends if I met them today.
How could I be? I look at the vast scope of what each member of my inner circle is doing and I realize that with a couple of exceptions, I have hardly anything in common with anybody. Here’s another thought: do I have anything in common with anybody, other than my husband? Not really. Sure, a few overlaps, a few moments of shared humour, but for the most part the only way I could possibly have a person in my life that I had ‘lots in common with’ would be if I spent many days in a row with them, and I have no time for that. I have more in common with my 1 year old if only by virtue of being on the same schedule and seeing the same things and being in each other’s company. I look to my siblings or my friends and realize that their lives are set to a different pace, in a different city, fed by a different diet and surrounded by different people. Daily, I rarely talk to anyone I love outside my immediate family. On a bad day I cry about that as I watch reruns of Friends, but on a good day, I recognize the magic in that craziness.
Because it’s crazy.
It’s crazy to me that the only thing that keeps the burning fire of loyalty burning amongst my friends is the time we spent together in school. A few short years of shared partying, shared hang overs, supported breakdowns, encouraged successes and heartbreaking good-byes – and we seem to be set for life. It’s crazy to me that I look at my family and see differences in life choices so stark and sharp that I wonder how we came out of the same house, same parents, same lessons. Time as children and adolescent beings seems to have sealed the deal that we will sit and wear foolish crowns together at Christmas and help each other move and ask for advice when nobody else will offer it. Because of time spent together, there are a group of people out there that I can rely on for midnight sob sessions and beautifully awkward family reunions.
So no wonder I can’t make any new friends. I have no goddamn time.
Ever since I left school and started wearing my mommy hat and stylish mommy clothes, I have found it exceedingly difficult if not downright impossible to make new friends. I have pondered this frequently, wondering if there was a social button in me that had been switched off, clearly by motherhood, and wondered why people were just so annoying or different from me. A glimmer of hope now and then in the frequented park by the same people supervising their children but by conversation number 4 I was usually crossing them off my list as a potential pal because their sense of humour was odd, their timing was off, or they shared too much. I’m sure I was crossed off many lists, and rightly so. It got to the point that I simply assumed that every adult I would ever meet again is weird and has bad social skills and my friend making days are behind me. And who cares? I have all the friends I need and I have a family that visits me and feeds me on holidays.
But then again, maybe there is something important to the skill of making a new friend. Maybe there are habits to be maintained and thought patterns to be exercised as we get older in case the tight hold of time loosens its grip. I’m not habitually thinking of ways I can improve somebody else’s life for a moment, and have not allowed for social time in my schedule. So it is with gratefulness that this question a)first annoyed me and b)sat with me for long enough that I feel like I understand that time is the answer, and it must be created now. All the time in the world exists as young adults take on school with massive student loans and boyfriends and life paths to forge. All the time in the world exists when weekends bring your family together and holidays fly people home and cousins want to play together. But as captain of a young family, time is scarce for little else than getting through the day and making sure everyone is fed. But seeing a friend today, a new friend who has not had time to burrow a hole into my heart but who made me smile with the commonality of our lives, made me feel the importance of creating that time.
Because really, when I see friends that I haven’t seen for years, or I see family that I can hardly relate to, aren’t we all kind of strangers? And if we’re all kind of strangers who just happen to have a bond because of the time we spent together, then aren’t we all actually inner circle friends, with all that time waiting to be spent?