Three Great Places to Look for Friends
I have often talked about – and been teased about – the idea of keeping a list called “These People Are My Friends.” But I think it’s a great idea. When I am flying high emotionally, it helps me figure out the exact right person to join me for a specific adventure. After all, not everyone wants to go to on a bus tour, or on a field trip with grandkids, or on a march on Washington. But more important, I have a tendency toward depression. On a day when I am blue, such a list reminds me I am not a social pariah. I am not all alone. I have friends.
Since a sense of isolation is a reality during the coronavirus, it’s important to actively think about and foster friendships. Fortunately, this is something within our control. If we want to be rich in friends, we can be.
As it happens, within a ten-day period in January, three of my dearest friends had birthdays. I continue celebrating them by using them as my examples here.
Three Great Places to Look for Friends
- Your Childhood – Fan or Rekindle Such Friendships Now
Roberta and I have been friends since kindergarten. Though we have not lived in the same city since 1970 when we graduated high school, we talk weekly, and meet up with each other regularly, often in New York. Roberta is the Dear Abby of my romantic life. She has talked me through high school crushes, 21 years of marriage, and love the second – and third – time around. She also has helped me parse every problem I ever had with my kids or with my professional life, not to mention going through the deaths of our parents together. It’s mind boggling but true: She knows more about my life than anyone.
In the last decade, we have further bonded through travel. I feel most comfortable using a tour company and traveling on land, in a bus. She humors my needs and comes along. Hence Warsaw, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague have been ours, along with fall foliage in all the New England states, and the Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion National Parks. Each adventure deepens our link and gives us a shorthand for happiness – the merest mention of that hotel with tusks brings a laugh every time.
- Your B-R-O-A-D Extended Family – You Already Love the Same People, Love Each Other
Sue is my daughter’s mother-in-law. Some people think it strange that we have a friendship. But that’s insane to me. We have so much in common! There are five people we both love with all our hearts: my daughter, Sue’s son, and our three shared grandsons. In Yiddish there is a word to describe our important relationship. We are machetunim, co-in-laws, and great candidates for friends.
As it turns out, Sue and I are similar in our emotional makeup. We both have up days and down days. As we handled lockdown in Ohio at the start of the pandemic, we called to check in with each other every evening. It astounded me that when she was at the end of her rope, I was managing fine and vice versa. I had experienced a similar phenomenon when I was a young mom as was my friend, Nancy. Amazingly, we were never homicidal on the same day. It seemed like a blessing then and again now to have a dear friend who could help me stay in balance. I will forever be grateful.
- Any Group You Join Brings the Potential for New Friends AND You’re Never Too Old to Make One
Vera and I met in a cancer caregivers support group when we were both AARP gals nearing Social Security. Trust me, I was not looking for friends at that moment. Enraged with my care-receiver for not doing cancer the way I wanted him to, I was a kettle of boiling water, looking to blow off steam. I was at my worst, but Vera liked me anyway, proving that unconditional love is a great element for friendship.
Vera is different from many of my friends because she hails from the world of business instead of one of the helping professions. She’s a little tougher. She’s a no-nonsense powerhouse with a Git-R-Done attitude. She has lots of ideas for interesting and FUN things to do (pre-COVID, of course) and makes all the arrangements for us to do them. In this manner we participated in two marches on Washington.
As an aside, a man I once dated was an activist. He asked me if I had ever been arrested? This was a crazy question for a perennial good girl like me. “What would I be arrested for?” I asked. “Putting curlers in my hair the wrong way?” And then there was Vera, a new friend helping to bring about an adventurous new me – and a couple of bus rides to D.C.
When I look at my “These People Are My Friends” list, I see that it is like a membership list of any organization. Let’s take the Temple Sisterhood for example. There are very active Board Members, women who only come to an event or two each year, and those who merely pay dues. But there are two truths to be found on the list. First, any involvement/support enriches the group. And second, it’s possible to take a less active member and turn her into something more.
Thus, I am grateful for my list, and I continue to grow it. It makes me a no-nonsense powerhouse with a Git-R-Done attitude. I know how to fan the flame of friendship. If I want to be rich in friends, I can be.
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