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01/02/2007: "apparently, I'm quite hungry"

I'm hungry. Not for food (well, no more than usual, anyways) but for other things. One is career change, and the other is friendship.

(Note to Jannette: I couldn't think of a way of bringing this up in conversation that didn't sound entirely stupid and self-centered, which is why you're reading it here before we discuss it. Just FYI that I was thinking about you before posting this.) The former is a no-brainer - this blog has been filled with tales of job woe and desire for change for years and years and years. I won't beat that horse anymore (in this post, anyways). However, tonight I realized how hungry for new friendship I really am.

Background: As you'll recall, a family from EVI is moving to town and joining the cohousing group I'm a part of. I've been quite happy to help them out, giving them recommendations and information about the city, and making their move/transition as easy as possible. I've also been very happy that they have decided that the cohousing vision I have is one they'd like to share, and are very actively helping me to make it reality.

Tonight I was reading a mutual friend's blog (another cohouser) and discovered that this new friend had just got the keys to her new house, and came over (with the person she's renting a room from) to the mutual friend's house to take her there for a house blessing. (Not something I've ever done, but hey, I'm open to new traditions.) Well, did you think my reaction was feeling glad for the person with the new house? No... I felt dismayed that I'm not among the new inner circle of friends.

Childish? Maybe. It's certainly a reflection on myself, and not of the actions of this new friend. I KNOW we will be close, both as families and as friends one-on-one, but I guess somewhere I had hoped that this would be the start of a new and profound friendship. Wow - how poorly placed that hope was! I mean, sure, we share a vision of cohousing, green living, and active community. But if I really step back and take a good look, there isn't much else that we share! No, really - cohousing is the ONLY common ground I can think of right now, other than parenthood. (Parenthood makes for a good sub-commonality within a larger group, but even then it usually works out as a stronger bond with kids of similar ages.)

Bottom line - this has shown me how STARVED for real friendship I am. It's not a reflection of the actions or intentions of any of my new friends I've made through cohousing (for those of you who may be reading this), this is a personal, internal matter that I've discovered through the actions of others. That's all.

Now, what to do about it? That's the tricky part. I will develop very close friendships among the cohousers - eventually. That will take time. I can try getting involved in other activities, but that didn't work out well for the Green Party involvement, so I don't see how increasing my activity level will accomplish anything beneficial. No, I have to start with what I have and go deeper, somehow. We as a family have to start getting out and about more in the evenings, which is really my only time to develop friendships. At least, until I can find a full-time permanent job and perhaps get some work friends.

Argh - really, this is the last thing I need right now. I simply don't have the time, energy, or capacity to personally develop while I'm trying to study for the LEED Canada-NC exam, find full-time work in a new industry, and still get in some much-needed family time. In fact, I need to work on the family time thing first. If we can start doing things together as a family, maybe we can all start meeting new people, and develop friendships there together. Going out alone to find friends will just take away from what I have now, which itself still needs work.

Eep. What a way to start a new year.

Replies: 8 Comments

on Wednesday, January 3rd, Boose said

I know how you feel. And, like you, I have some friendships developing that may well become close over time - it's that intervening time that will be the pain! Still, I hope things improve. The more I look back on 2006 for myself, I see a lot of high points, yes, but also a lot of places that SUCKED and I'd like to work on having fewer of those this year - maybe some new friends will help that!

Good luck up there...

on Monday, January 8th, Violet said

Oh! COME VISIT! You can rub dog bellies or lounge on our big red sofa or harvest books from my library (I owe you JPod!) or sit quietly and watch the birds at my feeders or I can force you into helping us build a fence or.. well, um, yeah!

Just a few days ago, Coffee and I were talking about wanting to meet more people who were "in line" with our values. The sort of people for whom one doesn't have to put on a big production in order to hang out.. then we wondered: HOW DO WE DO THAT? Coffee's workmates aren't quite ideal (they're all quite young and in the "acquire and party" stage) and I'm such a social hermit that I'm not picking up strangers on the street.. :)

Ponder it, anyway. Wheeee!

on Tuesday, January 9th, happykat said

some of your wife's friends must have nice husbands....try them.

on Wednesday, January 10th, mr.ska said

Wife's friends' husbands. You know, on the surface that sounds like a good idea - very convenient and all - but it also sounds... forced. Not to rain on your suggestion (and I very much appreciate feedback and suggestions), but my gut feeling is that using such an approach would meet limited success. Friends need common interests, and if I'm looking at Jannette's friends' husbands, that automatically means that set of "possible friends" is being filtered through Jannette's interests (which would be how she met her friends).

OTOH, finding a friend that way would certainly be a good way to spend more time with them, as Jannette would want to spend time with her friend and I'd want to spend time with mine.

I guess the first step would be to actually meet some of her friends... if I'm lucky I'll get to meet their husbands!

on Wednesday, January 10th, happykat said

forced is okay - many many friendships are forged simply because kids are the same age, or from desperation and isolation. Sometimes it doesn't work out (I have "tried out" many friends since becoming a mother, and have gotten lucky maybe a dozen times. A few are so dear, so special. Most folks I meet - no real connection).

To meet her friends...playdates on the weekend are a wonderful way to do this.

And to consider your "lack of common interest" cocern, remember that you and your wife have common interests, she has interests with her friends, and (hopefully) her friends share some interests with their own husbands.

There may be some overlap.

Finding friends is hard - and gets much harder as we age, and look for things beyond "hey - you like to drink at Phil's on Thursdays? *I* like to drink at Phil's on Thursdays. Let's be friends!!!".

But you have to start somewhere. (not trying to be sexist here...just noting my own observations). I have found that men believe that women make and maintain friendships easily, and often compare *their* success in friend-making to their wives. But women generally work hard at making and maintaining friendships. They take work, kind of like dating. Getting to know each other, spending time together, being accomodating when life gets busy. Nursing through once life crisis after another. Mending hurt feelings as you discover differences.

Not easy. But I think we (women) figure out earlier in life that friends are important, and worth having. Worth working for.

Good luck on your search.

on Wednesday, January 10th, happykat said

One other thing to consider is...

Do you really want more "friends"? I know you have friends - there are quite a few folks that comment on your blog.

Or are you looking for a new "peer group" that shares your current interests?


on Wednesday, January 10th, mr.ska said

Yes, I have many friends that comment here. The problem being, only one is local. I seem to be longing for face-to-face contact. I'm making good inroads with my cohousing group, but it takes time.

I agree with your point that it takes effort to maintain a friendship, much like dating. Precisely because it takes so much effort, I'd rather start with a pool of people that I *know* share some of my core values/interests and seek friendship there (like the cohousing group, the Green Party, my biofuels group, etc.). In comparision, going after Jannette's friends' husbands seems more like a shotgun approach. Not that it's not a good idea, but I think there are better opportunities to pursue right now.

I DO want more friends - close, intimate friends. It frankly sucks to know that when Jannette and the kids leave town I only have one person to call on to go do stuff with. That has to change. I'm not lacking in acquaintances (people I know and am friendly with, but not on a very deep level), but I have to develop more in order to work on transitioning the right ones into true friends.

You're right - women make it look easy. At the same time, I know Jannette made a concerted effort to develop a support network in town.

on Tuesday, January 16th, Mike said

I'm late to this discussion, but I'd add that most (nearly all) of my closest friends are ones that I have made in various small groups through our church.

When I become part of a small group, I intend to go deep with those people, and I usually surrender my pride and get vulnerable with them early. Not all small groups are like that - some intentionally do not go deep, and I think that's a great loss.

Find the book "Waking the Dead" and see if you can identify with it.

One recent sermon I heard talked about relationships - he said within your church you should know 50-100 people by recognizing their face - if you saw them in the grocery store you might not know their names but you would speak to them because you know them from church. The next level is to know their names and a bit about their family and/or job - that's about 25 people probably. And you should know 8-12 people at the heart level, and know how they are feeling and what they are dealing with. This is doable in many churches.

50-100 by face. 25-50 by name, up to a dozen by heart.

BTW, I think you and I have gone deep in some (many) ways. Despite being far away and communicating almost entirely electronically.

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