January 27, 2012

Big girl friendships

Tree Guy and I both grew up in Texas for the most part.  When Tree Guy graduated from college, he looked for local jobs, but forestry jobs are few and far between.  And Tree Guy wasn't just a forester; he specialized in forest recreation.  He wanted a career that involved sunshine, s'mores, and kumbayaing in the woods.  Unfortunately, most of those jobs are seasonal, and they tend to go to poor forestry students who will work day and night for free to get some experience before they graduate.  Which was so not us.

So we were really happy when he landed a conservation education job at a nature reserve in a neighboring state.  We knew no one in our new town, but Tree Guy got to play around in an aquatics lab and teach school groups about conservation every day.  The pay was crap, but that's the case with most entry-level jobs right out of school.  We just felt lucky that we didn't have to move to Oregon or Montana or some such.  ('Cause everyone knows that's where the serial killers live.)

Anyhoo.  Here we were.  A young married couple with nary a friend.  I normally pride myself on not being the needy type, but during our first year in our new town, my husband was my only friend.  So I wanted ALL his free time.  The poor man couldn't even make a quick stop on his way home from work without getting an earful at home.  I missed my family and friends back in Texas.  I loved dogs, but Tree Guy was the Pet Nazi early on in our marriage, so I didn't even have one of those to help with the loneliness.   (He eventually relented.  Now that I think about it, my neediness was probably what brought about his change of heart!)

I tried joining a book club, hoping to make some friends among my fellow bibliophiles.  It was fun, but it didn't translate to print-free time.  A slacker by nature, I eventually decided in my desperation to get a part-time job.  And this is where I met my first friend.  I was careful not to appear too needy, but it was just an act.  I longed for girls' nights and couple friends.  For weekend dinners to look forward to.  One good friend can make all the difference.

At first I didn't know why making women friends was so difficult.  What was wrong with me that I couldn't get a girl to have lunch with me?  Did I give off weird vibes?  Was I stalker-like in my exchanges?  Did I have broccoli in my teeth? 

It took years, but what I finally determined is that it's just really hard to make friends when you're no longer a student and you move to a new city.  People are already established there.  They have a complete set of friends already.  Friends they had childhood sleepovers with, and read Teen Bop magazine with, and partied in college with, and danced the Electric Slide at each other's weddings with.  They weren't desperate for friends like I was.

It was a lonely time. 

This week I started hanging out with another "transplant".  We've known each other for a couple years now through our homeschool group, but this is first time we've hung out on our own.  She confided in me that she's had a really hard time making women friends here too.  She's extended invitations and been rebuffed just like I was.  It's been just as confusing and hurtful for her as it was for me 14 years ago.  I hope it helps to hear that it's not her; it's them.   Some people's lives are just too full to work one more person in.  Some people are afraid to trust someone new.  And some people are just assholes.

Whatever the reason, the lack of friendship in her life is most assuredly not her fault.  I know.  I am the self-declared Standard of Normal and Knower of All Things, and I vow that there is nothing wrong with this woman!  She's not needy or dishonest or stinky or a bully.  She doesn't show up to homeschool co-op drunk or high or wielding Pokemon cards.  She's basically the Cuban version of me, which means that she is without a doubt, AWESOME.

Y'all remember when I had that idea for Shrinky Dink that involved passive-aggressive poop bombing of jerky exes' houses?  Well, I propose that for my new amiga, our passive-aggressive response to cold-shouldering and all manner of rebuffery, shall be this:


  1. Ok I am loving this post and yep it's 4:33 a.m. and I can't sleep :-( my lil man is having a coughing fit. If there was something I could use to make being awake at this dreadfully early time worth it, it was reading this post. Now on to the task of trying to get some zzzzz and dream me some good friend dreams.

  2. I only have friends online in reality. I have acquaintances IRL. I've tried the friend thing and it ALWAYS ends up hurting my kids and THEIR friendships, so I just avoid it like the plague now.

    Besides the fact that my hubby is INCREDIBLY anti social AND my own constant emotional issues (and rollercoasters) makes it far too hard to maintain IRL close friends (talk about HIGH MAINTENANCE, yo).

    I used to wish I had more IRL friends, but then every time I tried, I found I was just feeling resentful that someone was taking away from my time away from my hubby, when our time alone was so rare (5 kids and a lot of working will do that:)

  3. Making new friends really is so terribly hard, but when it happens, when you find that person and hear that click, it's so freaking awesome. I am so glad that you made a new one!

    My new friend Laura just moved here (Pittsburgh) last June with her fiance, who is always super busy with school. We kind of knew each other via the Internet back from when I used LiveJournal as my blogging platform, so she asked to meet up with me when she got here. I was unsure about it, because we didn't interact very much, but I'm glad I gave it a chance. Especially now after reading this and seeing how it is from the other person's perspective, I'm really glad that I might have had a hand in her feeling a little less alone in a new, big city.

    Off topic, I wanted to let you know that I gave you a shout-out last Friday in some "5 blogs I love" link thingie that I was tagged in! <3

  4. "uh, no, i've already met my friend quota" -- that's the best summary of the homeschool friends problem i've ever heard. excellent!