Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Where are you, Jamie Lynn Drury?

I am not good at making friends.

I try to be friendly with everyone -- even strangers, when there's a good vibe there. But for some reason, it seems to take me a long time to go from friendly to friend.

Just ask Star/Guinevere. I think it was a good three months of seeing her twice a week before we actually knew each other well enough and got together just to hang out before we considered each other friends. Guinevere, however, can make a new friend in 10 minutes. She did so recently, in front of the library, when she and another mom showed up at the same time to find the library closed. So they went shopping together at the store next door and exchanged phone numbers. What drives me crazy about this is -- it turns out I have met this same woman and her baby three times already!

I have seen moms at Baby and Me class form bonds, hug, go out to lunch and host parties at their homes. I see them pair up at the mall. It just makes me feel rejected. Defective. And jealous, too, I suppose. What do they have that I don't? Maybe I'm just not as trusting as most other people? Maybe there is some latent shyness in my character?

Or maybe friendship means so much more to me than just that phone call, that kiss on the cheek when meeting, that playdate, that MySpace-era friend collecting to see who can get the most people to say they like you. When I make a friend, I feel it is forever (or unfortunately in the case of too many people I have befriended, at least until you move away and stop returning my calls, e-mails and letters). I have friends going way back....

My first friend was two years old. I was four. We lived next door to each other (when I was visiting my father and stepmother on weekends and in the summer). She was sassy and fun. As we grew up together, we made up games. We built a fort. I rolled backward down her front steps in her Big Wheel and cut my lip for the first time. I tried curling her impossibly straight blond hair with a curling iron and got a little too close to her scalp, so she sang, "Refry my brain, refry my brain!" to the tune of the Go-Go's song We Got the Beat. We had sleepovers all the time, and we'd talk about boys. We'd ride bikes together all over the neighborhood. We went trick-or-treating together, some years, like the year she put on a garbage bag and her older sister's belt and went as a punk rocker. Every time she had a birthday party, it was a chance to play Bingo at her kitchen table and walk a line with a potato balanced on the flat side of a butter knife. When we were dragged to the supermarket with her mother or my stepmom, we'd pretend to speak a foreign language. We pretended we were actually 10 years older than we were, and that we lived together in an apartment like Laverne and Shirley. We got into arguments almost every day, but we always made up.

Then I moved away. I remember writing but not getting a response back. New friends came into my life, but as they say, you never forget your first.

I don't know if my friend Jamie and I would still be friends if I hadn't moved away. It's possible we would have drifted apart as so many childhood friends do when they become teens and take separate paths. But of course I will always remember her.

Maybe Jamie moved away too, and is living a glamorous life in a city. Or maybe she is a mom now, with her own mom friends. Maybe she thinks about me once in a while. Maybe someday she'll Google her name and find this post, and contact me.

I am not good at making friends. And that might be why I think about Jamie from time to time.

I hope Fly will grow a friendship like the one I had with Jamie -- someone to make memories with and become a real person with. I also hope he doesn't stop there and is better at making friends than I am. The world can be an unfriendly place. But if you're the kind who can make friends quickly, the world is a lot more friendly, and life is a lot less lonely.

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Blogger Nadine said...

I understand your frustrations. Being a pastor's wife I know many people, but it can be lonely. I'm the pastor's wife first...understand. I too had childhood friends that are still dear to me. One since I was 7 and she was 5 (we keep in touch once in a while).

Friends are important and it's always a good idea to know who you let into your inner circle.

1:50 AM  
Blogger Guinevere Meadow said...

Believe it or not, I don't usually make friends in 10 minutes. The incident outside the library was a RARITY in my life. (it took me forever to work up the courage to see if you wanted to hang out with me, by the way! lol!) It can be hard to make friends. I'm not usually the first one to say hello or extend the hand of friendship, but I'm trying to become that way.

I guess you've just gotta jump in with both feet and hope the water's fine! :)

3:19 AM  
Blogger Guinevere Meadow said...

By the way, I consider friendship to be "forever" too. :) So glad God put the two of us together! What would I do without you, girl??? (I certainly wouldn't have handled my pregnancy so well or figured out what kinds of solid foods to give Lance. lol!)

3:21 AM  
Blogger Freckle Face Girl said...

For the most part, I am like you & don't usually click with someone right off. It has happend a few times though. When it does, I give the other person credit. I figure they must be ultra friendly.

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Melissa Garrett said...

I have very few friends. I am PAINFULLY shy in real life and overcompensate by divulging too much too soon. I've read many posts written by bloggers who are totally turned off by women like me, which doesn't help me out one bit! I have ONE very close friend, and she lives in GA (I live in NY). I had one friend, who I met when I was 6. We stayed in touch until almost 2 years ago when she basically disappeared. I tried for a year to find her - she moved and changed numbers without telling me. When I finally did find her, she sent me a letter claiming to have lost my address and phone number when she moved. She promised to write again (never did). It's now been a year. I don't consider her a friend anymore.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

It IS hard to make friends as adults. Especially Mommy friends. You need to not only click as women, but your kids need to get along and you have to have at least similar ideas about parenting. It's a tall order. It's taken me about 5 years to find close friends in my city.

Keep trying!

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Margie said...

Someone told me, "To have a friend, you have to be a friend." Which sounds simple enough (it's like "the golden rule"), but it means making a conscious effort to "check in" on a regular basis. You want it to be reciprocal, for them to spontaneously call you as much as you do so for them--but sometimes it doesn't work that way. And if it gets to feeling like you're the one who always calls them, you wonder Am I really that high on their priority list, do they really like me very much, if they aren't willing to meet me 50-50? I think many friendships peter out, not so much because they've drifted apart (although that happens, too), but because one of the parties is either lazy and unwilling to initiate contact, or they have a little phobia about picking up the phone. Well then there's the life-suddenly-got-so-busy-I-barely-have -time-to-call-anyone excuse, which many moms can relate to. ;) True friends will know when that happens, and understand, and eventually find one another, I think (or at least sometimes that happens).

I really hate picking up the phone and calling people "just because" (I guess I'm a little phobic that way). So I don't have a "best friend," nor do I have many close friends of the kind you describe. I mean, I do call people, but usuallly not just to talk; it's for a specific purpose, to see if they want to do something. And I have several different circles of friends I do things with.

Sometimes I unintentionally say things in a way that seem to hurt people's feelings. People read all kinds of unintended meaning into things. People who know me know that I am not a mean person, and know not to jump to conclusions, to give me the benefit of the doubt. But if you're the kind that isn't afraid to say what you think, it's hard to censor yourself, walking on eggshells to spare someone's ultra-sensitive psyche. It takes a lot of work to phrase things just so--and even then there's still the chance that they're going to misunderstand.

So now when I find someone I like, who I think I'd like to end up friends with, I try to explain up front that that's how I am. That I can't read their mind, so if I say something that bothers them, they need to let me know, to clear the air and straighten out what most likely would be a misunderstanding. I think so far that strategy is working, but I still like to let friendships gradually build on their own merit, to get to know someone over time.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Hmmm...I know what you mean. I think that as I'm getting older I feel like and I'm less and less good at making friends. Sigh. And really, it is even harder since I'm a pastors wife. Really, I have NO mommy friends anywhere close to where I live. My only friends all live 5 or more hours away and are from BEFORE we started working in our church here. Everything changes when you become a pastor and pastors wife! I don't regret anything we're doing, but you know, it does get lonely sometimes!

11:32 AM  
Anonymous oh amanda said...

Interesting post. You strike me as completeley opposite than what you wrote! You're very friendly online! ;)

I think I go thru phases w/friends. I have the same 5 best friends since I was little (you know my sisterchickies). Now I've actually got lots of mommy friends. But there have been times in my life where if it wasn't for my dh I wouldn't talk to anyone!

I'd meet you at the Gap today if I could!

12:16 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I agree with heather that it's more difficult to make friends as an adult.

As a kid, you have time and energy to spare - and you have a wonderful openness to making friends.

Years pass. Adulthood - and parenthood - arrive. Then, there are so many factors to friendship:
1. Do our husbands get along?
2. Are our kids the same age and do they like each other?
3. Do we have the same parenting approach?
4. Do we have similar work/life schedules?
5. Do we value the same things?

After all those questions are answered, only a few people usually remain.

I'm not sure if those questions are necessary, but it seems like they end up popping up...

P.S. I also agree with oh amanda - you come across as super friendly and fun on your blog. I'd totally invite you to lunch if we lived in the same city!

1:18 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

I have close friends who, coincidentally, had their children at the same time as me. So I never had to try and make mommy friends at playgroup, which is good because I'm not an initiator.

Now that most of our kids are in school, my friends and I don't have time to do playdates and coffee very often. I just started taking the Toddler to playgroup and I generally don't speak to anyone, or just make the odd bit of small talk. I'm okay with that; it's just who I am.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I'm the same way. Which is partly why I dread social events. I'm a standing-by-the-punchbowl sort of woman.

What was most difficult was being the first of my girlfriends to have kids. I felt so cut off from everything and everyone.

Good post.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Mamacita Tina said...

It's really difficult for me to make new friends also. I'm not outgoing at all, I know that's part of the problem. Ah well, I am who I am.

12:44 AM  
Blogger mad cow gone mad said...

I wish I still lived near you, we'd go out together like we use to. The only difference would be instead of a red camaro tearing thru your neighbor hood, you'd see a grey volvo coming for you. I'd even take you TP'ing!

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know how you feel. I have very few female friends. I've always been one of the boys, but now that I'm a mom I wish I knew how to strike up friendships with women, but most of the time I feel like I don't speak that "cool mom" language.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Nap Warden said...

I am right there with you. I live in a huge city, and I don't have very many friends here. It is hard to make new friends as you get older. I suppose the best we can do is to keep trying. If you are ever in my city, I would love to go shopping!

3:19 PM  
Blogger groovyoldlady said...

You sound alot like Funsocksgirl (my eldest). She has always been a one true long-term friend at a time sort of gal. I'm more of a little bit of friend here, little bit of friend there person. Neither one is better than the other. Neither way is wrong. It's just who we are. Our emotional/social needs are different.

FSG is now bestest friends with her husband - works great for her, but she has no close least not, you know REALLY close.

I think it must be harder for you and FSG. Lonlier, more introspective. Come to think of it, my hubby is like that too.

I must drive him CRAZY!

4:20 PM  
Blogger h&b said...

This reminds me of a Pink Floyd song:

Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn
Remember how she said that
We would meet again
Some sunny day
Vera! Vera!
What has become of you
Does anybody else in here
Feel the way I do ?

8:25 AM  

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