This past weekend, Mat and I got our flu shots. Who knew we still needed them in southern California, but according to our friendly Walgreens pharmacist (Karissa), once a year regardless of where you live is a good idea. So, we went, she jabbed, we got our shiny red bandaids and eventually…we left. With allergies and nerves, I often hang out for a bit after a vaccination and this time, we weren’t alone. Another couple was there to do the same and our forty-five minute long conversation in our ‘flu shot group’ got me thinking – about friendships and where they begin.
In a random Walgreens in San Diego, we chatted. He was from New York, she from California. He mentioned that his sister is a Long Island teacher. Although a decade apart, we grew up only twenty minutes from each other. They moved to the west coast fifteen years ago and we’re here giving it a try. While hoping that our arms wouldn’t fall off, in the chairs beside the immunization room, in a drug store minutes from each of our ‘for now’ homes, a psychiatrist, former teacher turned writer/event planner, anesthesiologist and accountant chatted about baseball, the plight of public education, east coast vs west coast living, craft beer and sunshine vs snow. It wouldn’t have made a very good movie plot line, but it did pass the time, push my ‘writer brain’ and in the end, no one’s arm fell off .
We go from having playdates to youth groups, from high school sports to university clubs and then what? Some choose a career, some head to work, some go off to the military and others to more schooling and time in between to ‘figure it all out’. It’s easy when we’re young to make friends. There’s a park, a class, a course, a team, a club and facilitators around to point us in the right directions. What about after all of that? This seems to be a conversation that pops up around thirty-forty somethings who have shifted gears (in more than one way). Today, people have hundreds of ‘virtual’ friends, but what about those coffee dates, quiet beers in a pub or quick weeknight dinners? If you’ve moved towns, cities, countries or jobs, how do you find new people to add into your life? Maybe it’s not necessary. Perhaps you’re happy with your friend contingent and don’t go out in search of new. What works for you where you are in life and in the world?
Mat and I count ourselves very lucky. Both of us have friends from childhood, camp, schools, travel, work and life scattered around the globe. They make up various parts of our history, finish sentences, answer the phone at all hours and giggle at memories right along with us. I recently spoke to a new friend of mine (a new bride) who I met at a yoga class in San Diego. In discussing wedding details together, I told her one of my favourite parts of weddings…the people. The fact that this milestone is often large enough to gather people from all parts of one’s life into the same place is amazing. World’s collide, people who have heard of each other for years meet for the first time and those who have known you at all different phases of life share the same space to celebrate together. When you think about it, it’s incredible. It’s a variation of ‘this is your life’ filled with photos, cake and smiles. How often does that really get to happen?
Today, there are charities to join, clubs to engage with, gyms and sporting endeavors to take part, community activism to share, cultural connections to explore and of course, the world of social media to ‘find those kindred spirits’. Today’s ‘grown up’ world finds adults at climbing gyms on weekends and adventure travel groups when possible. People head to book clubs and poker night, religious outings and insert name of whatever meet up groups (a few of which we’ve attended and met some really cool people). They meet strangers on a hiking trail that might translate into a group meet up the next time. Some bonds form out of adversity or struggle, bring out the best of a situation and create lifelong connections (our Hurricane Sandy friends hold a very special place in our hearts). Travelers who randomly connect in foreign countries might manage to meet up somewhere else in the world on purpose at a later date. No matter the way, we often find ourselves in that similar situation to one on a playground all those years ago. If you have the courage to look someone in the eye, smile and share a bit of your true self, who knows what might happen. Perhaps even random strangers who got their flu shots at the same time might even meet up again, this time away from Walgreens and perhaps, as friends.
Where’s the oddest spot you’ve made a new friend?