Sunday, September 20, 2009
Why Can't We be Friends?; or, Refuse to be Defined by the Owl Table.
I was having a normally pathetic day at home the other day … sitting alone, alternately petting my cats and yelling at them like a harassed mother of twin toddlers, “stop fighting right now you two!” as if they could understand – much less give a damn – what I was saying, and longing desperately for some sort of social interaction with actual people – you know the kind of I’m talking about, the mythical type of people who aren’t 3 inches tell and don’t live in the box in your living room, the almost-imaginary kind who actually talk back, answer questions and carry on a conversation with you – I hear they exist, although I’m not entirely sure where to find them … and I couldn’t help but wonder, “when did it become so bloody hard to make friends?!”
Believe it or not, I used to be really good at making friends. Anywhere I’d go, if there was another kid within 5 years of my age we’d be planning our first slumber party while I caught them up on my most recent imaginary world so they could join in the magical goodness before my parents even had the time to turn around and wonder where I’d gotten myself off to. “Social butterfly” was written on my progress reports from school on an abnormally frequent basis, as were the observations like, “Emily has a very gregarious personality … [nice enough] … which can be really distracting to the other students during class time [there goes the nice].”
I met my childhood best friend the first day of kindergarten. I had just moved to town and was in the afternoon class (none of this crazy full-day kindergarten for me!). I sat at the owl table, which I really disappointed about at first because I had really wanted to sit at the kitty-cat table, but it was all full – as was the bunny table and the squirrel table … actually, every table except the owl table was totally full and what 5-year-old in their right mind wants to sit at the bloody owl table?! Yes, I was definitely disappointed by the owl – I felt dorky, un-liked, nerdy. But, like I said, I made friends easily and refused to let the owl table define me, so I picked someone out and managed to "distract" her through a full day (which, as mentioned earlier, was really only a half day) of free time and nap time; by snack time I had already asked her, straight out, if she'd be my best friend and we were for the next 7 years (and -if you're wondering - she was not at the owl table at first, but the much cooler bunny table, until she switched with someone to be at the owl table with me - yeah, she was pretty much awesome like that). Why was it so easy then?!
It's not that I'm expecting adult to go up to each and ask if someone wants to be their best friend in-between commute time and coffee-break time, but seriously, there has to be a way for those of us adults who aren't working or in school and didn't stay best-friends with the kids we grew up with to make new friends in a non-sexual and non-super-creepy-I'm-going-to-stalk-you-if-you-reject-me kind of way! I've live in this place for a year already and have a grand total of 2 people that I do things with - one of whom I've known for most of my life - but even then it's only occasionally. It's not that I want someone that I can see every minute of every day - remember, I said NON-creep - but someone I can randomly call up and go to coffee with or to whom I can bitch about my day would be nice. There are so many social mores that must be followed now as an adult, rules for social conduct of which I am hyper-aware and deathly afraid of breaking, but it's more than that. Everyone is so busy, so independent and disconnected from each other, and it seems that the more of these things we are (busy, independent, disconnected) the more we're admired and thought to be 'contributing to society' ... when did having friends go out of style, and dear god, where did the social butterfly who refused to be the friendless, dorky kid at the owl table go?