Lately, all my travel is really wearing on me. Earlier this year, I was in DC four days a week, and then traveling so much on weekends (Europe, woo!) that I was only home a few days a month. I started losing friends (okay, maybe not losing, but drifting away from and losing closeness) as a result of my traveling, so I made it a point to mostly stop the weekend travel and make myself more open for weekend planning.
I thought that would cover it, but it seems that in my absence, a lot of my friends have shifted to weeknight plans, which still puts me out of the loop. Plus, summer is wedding season (I have one of my own friends’ weddings to attend this weekend) and vacation season, so there just aren’t a ton of people around on weekends either. As a result, I’m spending my weekdays largely by myself (I’m working on a two person team where the other person is local and goes home at the end of each night), and now spending a lot of weekends by myself too.
This week, I was fortunate to spend Tuesday night catching up with an old college friend (okay, an ex… but we dated only briefly and he’s married now) who also lives in Dallas. I breezily mentioned the above issues, making sure it was more of “this is what’s going in my life and meh! What can you do” instead of “Oh, woe is me; my life is miserable.” But when I put it all out there, I was surprised to find that he totally empathized. He works for an airline, and while he doesn’t travel nearly as much as I do for work, he still used to take lots of weekend trips because it was free and he could (oh, I know that feeling). Meanwhile, his then-fiancee was in school, so she was focused on her studies most of the time, and now that she’s graduated from school and he’s cut back on the weekend travel, they’re in the same boat of not knowing a ton of people and not really knowing how to make friends at this age.
My friend astutely pointed out that we’re just at that stage in life right now, where it’s hard to make new close friends. Everyone is so wrapped up in their romantic relationships and work, and we just aren’t in an environment like school where you’re meeting new people at every turn. He also pointed out that we probably won’t really be in that type of lifelong-friend-making environment again until we have kids and start meeting other parents at preschool. Yikes, are we getting to that point already?
While I do have a lot of acquaintances/activity partners, I definitely am lacking the closeness that I once had with my high school and college buddies, where you could call at any hour and chat about anything. It’s not just about sharing the bad or the good; it’s also about sharing the little minutiae of a day that aren’t major news. I wish there were more people whose phones I felt comfortable dialing just to chat, instead of only to make plans in our busy, over-traveled and over-scheduled lives. There are times where loneliness can’t be solved with a good book or a long run, and the best thing is just having someone to talk to. Unfortunately, that’s what I’m currently lacking.
I’m hoping that the upcoming weekend of seeing old college friends will calm me down a little bit, and maybe even give me the chance to reinvigorate those friendships. But how do you convert a friend from acquaintance/activity partner to true blue BFF? I suppose that’s what I’m still working on figuring out.