This past Saturday, I met the one and only Culture Monk in Chicago. Ours is a friendship forged in the blogosphere and withstands elegantly off-line. I’ve always been a bit jealous of Mr. Monk. Culture Tour aside, he is the kind of person who is comfortable striking up a conversation with anyone. If I hadn’t known a soul in that café, I would have sat down at an empty table and not spoken to anyone.
While there are plenty of solo activities I enjoy while in a cafe atmosphere, it dawns on me that I would be delighted if someone dared to engage me in conversation. All it would take is one person asking about my book or my writing to make my day. Why, then, was I so afraid of doing the same to someone else?
Making friends in the adult world is hard. How do you connect with someone if you’re not in a class with them?
I will sing the praises of MeetUp.com as that is how I met the great friends I have today. I joined a 20-something’s social group, attended some events and met some wonderful people. They have become some of my closest friends and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. That said, why did I have to join a group and attend an organized event to meet friends outside of a classroom environment?
If I were to move again, I fear I would do the same thing. Mr. Monk often talks about a lack of natural community in Western culture. I never noticed this absence until reading his blog. Perhaps I am used to a world with few people. My youth wasn’t full of a lot of random encounters that resulted in friendships. In fact, I can think of only one such encounter.
I believe it was the summer before seventh grade. Much to my dismay, I was mowing the law. I loathed this activity for the bugs it through in the air, the ugly sweat that coated me and the repetitive back and forth of the chore. My one relief was in my portable CD player, tucked lovingly in a fanny pack. Shania Twain sang in my ear as made my neat rows in the lawn. The world was lost to me as I entranced myself in the music, living in a fantasy beyond my understanding.
I was startled out of dreams by a nudge on the shoulder.
“Hi, I’m **Anna. Wanna be friends?”
No joke, I think I looked around to make sure she was talking to me, as if tapping me on the shoulder wasn’t enough of a sign.
That was it. We went on to be great friends, sharing secrets at sleep overs and running around town.
Can that still happen as an adult? How do people meet each other and suddenly become pals? Certainly I’m not the only one who moved away from home and had to find a way to make new friends?
I wouldn’t give up the friends I have for the world, but I still wonder… can I make a true connection in a café, a bookstore or a library? How does that happen?
I must be a product of the times. I can’t even make friends without the assistance of technology.
How do adults make friends? I’d like to call upon the advice of people who are older that the world wide web*** and ask, if you moved to a new area where you didn’t know a soul, how would you make friends? Was it something that happened naturally, or did you have to seek out friendship? For those who are younger than the world wide web, do you know how to make friends without the hesitance of technology?
* I know this is a song about domestic abuse, but as a child, I related it to emotional bruises.
**Not her real name
***The world wide web is 25 years old. True story