Ten years ago, when my husband and I moved from south Florida to Atlanta two weeks after our wedding, I left behind a big group of friends that I’d essentially grown up with. Some were childhood friends with whom I’d gone to Day School—the kind who could tell stories that would make my parents blush. Some were friends I made after to moving back to Florida post-college, and who were a huge part of shaping the person I became in my early 20s.
Before we moved, I knew that making new friends in a new city would be tough, but I didn’t think that I’d still be struggling 10 years later.
I do have work friends. We commiserate at the office, trade stories about our kids, have drinks after hours (or maybe during hours, but who’s keeping tabs?), and make amazing travel buddies. We support one another’s professional endeavors and have one another’s backs when office politics get a little contentious. But when invites go out for a late Sunday brunch or a small Saturday-night birthday celebration, they don’t come my way. I hear about the events secondhand Monday morning and nod along with a smile. Maybe my colleagues think I’ll say No, that it’s too tough to get away from the kiddos? I’d love the chance to say Yes.
I guess you could say I have mom friends, too. Whenever we’re at one of our kids’ events (birthday parties, school functions, birthday parties, gymnastics, did I say birthday parties?), we happily pass the time together and get lost in great conversation. But the few times I’ve asked them to dinner or drinks, plans didn’t work out for one reason or another. I try not to take it personally, as I’m sure it’s never intended that way. And I know it’s not always easy to coordinate social get-togethers with all the Jewish holidays, family obligations, and work schedules we have to plan around. But I also know that they do go out with other moms sometimes, because, well, Facebook.
What I don’t have are friends that are just friends, no qualifiers needed. Friends who aren’t tied to a specific life category, or setting, or circumstance. Every year for my birthday, I think about who to invite out to dinner to celebrate. And every year, as I go down the list of people I feel close to, the answer is no one. I haven’t found that kind of friend here yet. Someone to have over for wine and Cheez-Its on New Year’s Eve. To go shopping with for shoes or a new sofa —or heck, for new underwear. Someone who wants to spend time together and get to know me outside of the construct of “mom” or “colleague.
I appreciate that I’m incredibly blessed in so many other ways. I have a wonderful husband, two fantastic kids, healthy parents, a comfortable home, a successful career. I am surrounded by oodles of goodness and love. But I can’t ignore that little empty friend space that sits just out of reach, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why I can’t fill it. For once, just once, I would like to have someone to call on a Sunday afternoon to meet up for coffee or a pedicure.
Or better yet, I’d like to have a friend who would call me.