I don't know how to; I've never had to. They just came. Good friends. Bad friends. Friends who are still in my life 15 years and three countries later. Those who became family in five minutes. Others who came and went according to their convenience or time of life. But always copious numbers of them, of all kinds, ranging from the ephemeral bonding in the rest room of a club to the kind where you get on a plane to be there when she picks up her divorce papers, or you’re willing to risk the entire friendship to tell him what he needs to hear but doesn't want to know.
And since I've never had to go looking for them before, I'm now a bit handicapped in what seems to be the world’s most difficult place to make friends. I faithfully follow the instructions I'm given on WhatsApp from other time zones, so I go out and join things. Yoga classes, Thai boxing lessons, Colour Runs, wine tastings. I smile at idiots in the gym, in case they're nice idiots. I’m friendly to the mean girl by the pool in case she's only mean because she's friendless. I doggedly stay at barbecues where I am bored to tears in the hope that somewhere in the humourless, needlessly competitive throng is another person feeling the same way I do. I put up with being patronised on the subject of children (lack of), and irresponsibility (too much of) in the hope that underneath it all is a real person worth knowing. I stick on at dinners that crush my spirit in the belief that the problem is mine to fix. I hold on too tight to friendship that was never meant to be anything but light, until it finally stops fluttering and dies. In short, I’m the idiot in the gym.
Recently, while attempting to be bright and entertaining, and winding up just being dull, I remembered suddenly what my mom said to me when I first left for college: Don’t worry if you don’t find friends immediately, the right friends will find you. Well, she's been right for 25 years, so there’s no reason to disbelieve it now. Which means I can just peacefully return to my Kindle. Here's my number, call me maybe.
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