(from this flikr photostream)
I have talked before about how important I think it is to have a regular date night to sustain a healthy relationship. Time together alone is essential to work through your issues, talk about your problems, hopes, and dreams, and do other things that can be little awkward with other people around (if you know what I mean). But there is something else that I think is essential to a relationship. And that other essential thing is friendship. With other people. Not as a couple.
This one is much harder for me than staking out time alone with Kathy. This week, while Kathy was in London, would have been a good time for seeing my friends. Except that I had a stomach bug over the weekend that had not quite worked its way through my system, so I cancelled a cardio class I was supposed to go to with a friend from law school. I had dinner with my sister on Tuesday night (yes, she counts as a friend in my book), but again cut it shorter than I would have liked because I kind of felt like crap. Then, Wednesday rolled around. It was supposed to be a rescheduled friend-date with the law school friend from Monday, but the weather hit and I was trapped in the house all day. Blah. A whole week of Kathylessness, and I only got to see one friend.
Making friends is not, and never has been, the easiest thing for me. I can be outgoing, and I do talk kind of a lot. But that doesn't mean that interactions with people I don't know well are easy for me (they're not) and, frankly, I am kind of picky about who I will create a friendship with. I am one of those people who would rather have a few close friends than many not-so-close friends. If you're only going to have a few friends, it makes sense that you would want them to be people you thoroughly enjoy, right? Everyone has people in their life that they like "only in small doses." To me, that kind of feels like a waste of time. If I only like someone in small doses, I don't really like them that much, do I? Why, then, would I waste my time creating a relationship with a person I don't like that much? Perhaps that is a bit harsh, but it's really how I feel about it. So, to all my friends out there reading this, Hi, I like you a lot. :-)
Anyway, if I like all my friends so much, why is it hard for me to find time for them? Well. First of all, they are scattered around the country. A trip to Michigan or Eugene, Oregon is not exactly an after-work-type jaunt. As for the friends in New York City (and surrounding areas), they tend to fall into one of four categories: (1) friends I have made with or through Kathy, (2) work friends, (3) my sister, (4) my one friend from law school. My work friends I see pretty regularly, just by, um, going to work. Friends I have made with or through Kathy are nice, but they are our friends (or her friends), not my friends. So that leaves categories (3) and (4), which is only two people.
Making time for these two people should be easy, but it's not. First of all, they both have pretty demanding job schedules, like mine. Second, we don't live close. My law school friend lives in Brooklyn, which, if you start near our offices, is the exact opposite direction from my house. My sister is down on the LES, which is also kind of far. I would like to see both of my existing friends more, though, so I am hereby publicly committing to doing that.
But here's the bigger issue. I have been here nearly three years. It is really time to suck it up and make some new friends. How do I do that, though? It was suggested to me that I join something or take a class in something I'm interested in. If you have a common interest with someone, it's much more likely that you will end up liking them, right? When it came time to consider what to join, a few things came to mind (sorry this is so negative, but that is how I tend to think of things).
- I do not want to volunteer. That sounds horrible, but unless I know a bunch of people, volunteering has always involved me sort of standing around feeling awkward, while everyone else seemed to know what they were doing. Then I keep having to ask questions, which makes me feel like more of an annoyance than a help. By the time I get home, I am mostly just relieved that the awkwardness is over. I like volunteering with other people I know (security blanket!), and I like doing pro bono legal work (which, as far as I know, I can only do through the firm). So since the point of this is meeting new people, I am crossing volunteering off the list. It's just not going to work for me.
- A classroom lecture format will not work. This has always been my favorite type of class - the kind where I sit there and listen, passively take notes, occasionally discuss something I find interesting, and go home. That is also not conducive to meeting new people.
- It can't cost a lot of money, and has to be at a time I am flexible.
- It can't be in the city. I really need to make friends in the 'burbs, where I live.
- It can't involve the Junior League or a country club. Because blech, I am trying to meet people I want to be friends with. And I am a gay, for crying out loud.
And I guess if this doesn't work, I am just going to have to make friends with people via Craigslist. Although that has every likelihood of getting creepy very fast.