Cultivating friendships

Many things get harder as you get older.  It gets harder to get out of bed in the morning.  It gets harder to find a bathing suit that is both modest and fun.  It gets harder to enjoy more than two adult beverages without feeling like you were hit by train the next day.  It gets harder to eat crap food without worrying about your blood sugar and cholesterol.  But the one truth that has surprised me the most is…

it has been harder for me to make friends as I get older.

Maybe this isn’t solely due to my age.  Maybe this truth is also the result of living in a new place, feeling like an “outsider” at times.  Maybe it’s also hard for me because I have such a rock steady group of gal pals now, and I’m trying so hard to keep those relationships healthy despite the distance.  I have definitely thought to myself “I already have AMAZING friends.  I don’t need anymore!”  Quality over quantity, right?  Whatever the cause, the reality is that this 31-year-old woman isn’t the best at kick-starting new friendships.  

If this year taught me anything, it taught me that distance can’t break a strong relationship but it does make it hard to coordinate a casual wine night in your sweat pants.  If I want to see my NC crew, there are phone calls, texts, coordination of calendars, and at least three hours of driving time just to get there.  It doesn’t really fit the mold of casual.  Sometimes you need a splash of estrogen in the next 24 hours, not the next month.  I spent so much time traveling back and forth to NC last year that I lost out on an opportunity to build up my community where I am.  And I need community.  I need people that I can reach out to when Bradley is traveling, and I’m craving human interaction.  I need people that can celebrate with me in person during my small victories.  I need people to invite over so that we can continue to create beautiful memories in our new home.  But none of that will happen if I don’t designate time and energy toward it.

There are two issues at hand.  One is that I want to keep my current friendships strong. The other is that I want to develop new relationships.  I think I have found a solution…

If I love you and you live in another state, I might ask you to find a time to visit me in Smithfield.  Yep, those roads work both ways.  And we have two guest rooms and a guest bathroom.  We even have a fenced in backyard so bring your pets.  Cats included.  See how easy I am making this??  If I ask you to visit, it is because I love you and I want to see your face.  I also want Smithfield to feel like home.  Sharing this town with you is one way for me to feel all of the good things.  You may be hesitant or it may feel like a hassle.  Do it anyway.  Please.

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I’m also going to pick one or two relationships I have in Smithfield and love the heck out of them.  I’m going to send them random letters.  I’m going to take pictures of their children and then surprise them with prints.  I’m going to show up with wine and pizza, help them bathe their kids, and put them to bed so that we can enjoy a few minutes together on the couch.  Sometimes people think that because I don’t have kids, I’m only interested in really exciting and fun adventures.  Joke is on you, sucker.  I hate pants that don’t have elastic waistbands, bras are the devil so I prefer not to wear one, I think beer out of your refrigerator is just as good as out of a tap, and I thrive on an early bedtime.  Seriously.  I’m in bed by 9:30 most nights…even on the weekends.  You think my house is super clean because I don’t have kids.  I have three dogs. Which means I have half-chewed up bones under the couch, torn-up toy parts all over the floor, and hair covers everything.  Stay long enough and it will cover you, too.  Don’t think that because we aren’t in the same season of life that I can’t love you where you are.  And I love kids!!  I’m pretty stinkin’ good with them.  Don’t turn me away when I show up in earnest because you think I can’t handle your life.  We are all dealing with our own special blend of chaos, sweetheart.  I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

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