I am firmly ensconced in the world of ‘putting myself out there’. No, I am not dating, but I am friending. Thankfully for all involved, my dating days are far, far behind me. No, this time I am being pushed out of my comfort zone and I am starting to make new friends. I think.
I have been out and about quite a bit lately. My book club meeting was great-an eclectic mix of ladies that I really enjoyed. We laughed and talked late into the night, closing the coffee shop and then sitting outside its darkened windows to keep talking. It was in a strange way, familiar and intimate-the stories we told one another were unguarded and open. We talked of divorce and our children; we shared stories of our past and our hopes for our future. As a first meeting, it gave me hope that I will find new friends, not just friends, but friends here.
I also started volunteering at my local shelter. The women I have met there are awesome. I have volunteered before and I have been in plenty of shelters, and where I expected a small rural shelter with limited resources, I found a beautiful little haven for animals, with a great network of volunteers and community supporters. The women I met are dynamic and energetic, open and excited and I walked away impressed and awed (and with a new title and a lot of new responsibilities). These women have included me already, as though I have always been a part of the team and I am excited to be a part of what they do.
So here is the part I don’t know how to navigate. I remember there were rules to dating, when to call, how often, how much to disclose and when-but what are the rules of friending? How do you know when you have crossed the line and are officially a friend? How soon to do add someone to your FB list, and when can you call someone to meet for coffee, or dinner, outside of a planned group activity?
For example, last week I had a shit of a morning. The previous night my husband and I discussed my health, and the fact that I am not in the best shape of my life and that I need to change some habits. Nothing I don’t know, and no, he wasn’t being mean or ugly, he is a nurse and had some valid health concerns. The point is he told me to ‘put myself first and foremost’ and commit to getting healthy again. I committed to a 915am spin class the following day. But the youngest was running late for camp, and then forgot to wear the right shoes and 45 minute later I was back at the camp dropping off the sneakers and NOT making that spin class. I was livid. I was angry with my husband for not understanding that as the Mom, we don’t get to put ourselves first all the time and I was pissed at my son for screwing up my morning, and I was mad at myself for being mad at them.
What I really wanted was to call a friend. I wanted to meet for coffee and talk, to vent and laugh and have someone say to me ‘oh my God, I totally get it…today I…”
But are we there yet? After two or three meetings, am I a friend? Do I have a friend? What are the rules?
Don’t get me wrong, I have some dear and true friends in SC and CT. I have women in my life that I would move heaven and earth for-I wouldn’t trade them for anything. But I have also had some women in my life that taught me some hard lessons, women whose values I thought I knew and shared, but that caught me off guard and cut me to the quick. I have learned that the mean girls in high school sometimes don’t evolve, don’t change and that even in adulthood, they are out there.
So now I don’t know how to navigate this strange new beginning. On the one hand I want to be wide open, and on the other I want to stay guarded and avoid the playground bullies and the mean girl cliques. It was easier when the kids were little and our children acted as the icebreakers. They were our common thread and it was easy to bond over them and share their stories, make play dates that turned to lunches. Before you knew it you were sharing wine and laughter and getting together without the kids and with the husbands.
It seems harder now, and almost worse than dating actually. So if someone could share the rules with me, that’d be great. Really, just skip to the end. I was never one for the games or the chase. I just want to know, are we there yet?