Finding Friendship in Foreign Lands - A Long-Winded Reflection Complete with Compatibility Survey Questions
As a new resident to the area (okay, I know it's our second time here but people move away y'all), I've been feeling the loneliness sneaking up on me. While I'm generally content to do my own thing and enjoy the solitude of life while Christopher is at work and Evelyn is in school, I also miss my close friends and family so fiercely it hurts at times.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoy biking and driving around local towns, but it's more fun to do this with somebody by your side. Despite multiple attempts, Harry Caray the adventure cat does not like sitting in the bike basket, and his levels of interest in sharing good food, gelato and jokes are disappointingly low. Cats are best at snuggles and Netflix, not back-road biking adventures.
So how does a gal who is new to town make friends?
Let me tell you, it's been a slow process but I've had some success in these three areas so far:
- Spouses of Christopher's co-workers - We have shared experiences and similar schedules, plus it's nice to gather together at BBQs and workplace events. In my case, the co-worker and Christopher share the same work shift, so the spouse and I can hang out and travel together!
- Chance Encounters - When you're affiliated with a military base, chances are you're going to start bumping into the same people at the commissary (that's a grocery store to you non-military folk), post office, laundromat, and food court. After the 5th or 10th or 3rd time (like me), you strike up a conversation and ask for their cell phone number which leads to texting and then lunches and then...blammo! Friendship! You get extra points if your kid likes their kid too.
- The Internet - I met Christopher before internet dating was a common thing, and we were well into our marriage by the time swipe-left-swipe-right apps came around, so getting to know somebody via the internet is a new and, admittedly, exciting experience to me. Social media makes it pretty darned easy to weed out people who aren't friendship material. I mean, some people really put their ugly out on display. There are times, however, when people find similar interests via a Facebook comment thread and strike up a private conversation. This happened to me recently, and I was hesitant but also thrilled! And guess what happens when you decide to take your budding friendship to the next level? You decide to meet on base and walk through the commissary together. Yep, a grocery store date. You might bond while sniffing body wash (this may or may not have happened this week), and declare that you'd like to get together again, possibly with kids and most definitely outside of the grocery store. Remember that you get extra points if your kid likes their kid/s.
You know those surveys where you read and post your answers online? It turns out there's a version for determining friendship compatibility. Questions vary from person to person, but I've been asking and have been asked the following questions in one way or another this past month. Keep in mind that these are light in nature with important, deeper questions following a bit later.
- like seafood?
- like spicy food?
- eat vegetables? Which ones?
- like cats? (A new friend of mine is allergic to cats AND seafood. It's tragic.)
- have kids? (Not necessary, but remember extra points are involved if kids like each other.)
- eat sugar? (I thought this question was a joke, but she really wanted to know. My answer: Absolutely.)
- like to cook?
- enjoy making crafts?
- drink wine?
- like to read?
- like your spouse?
- live near-by?
- watch shows on Netflix? Which ones?
- watch reality tv?
- know about the Curly Girl hair regimen?
- tend to put a positive spin on frustrating situations?
- want to go to the gym together? (Physical exertion + sweat + threat of potential body odor = new level of friendship)
- really like cats or are you just saying that to be friends with me?
I think we "click!" Now what?
I tend to be an "all-in" type of person, throwing myself head-first into something with gusto, including friendship. What I've learned over time is that leading with honesty, integrity, and kindness serves me best, but also that long-lasting friendship is something that grows over time. I've had friendships that have burned bright and fizzled. Others have long lapses in communication but pick right back up where they left off. And then there's the best kind of friendship; the kind that spans years and distance, growing stronger as the years pass.
And if it doesn't work out?
No worries. Life isn't always friendship bracelets and matching tattoos. Fizzled friendships and steady acquaintances turn into contacts and connections, potentially really good ones if you've stuck to being honest, kind, and full of integrity.
Finally, don't burn bridges.
Chances are, you'll be bumping into that person in the commissary one day down the road or putting an SOS out on social media when you're needing help moving alone...again. You might be surprised who crosses that unburned bridge to help you out.