This afternoon I went to a new friend’s house with the boys. My friend has four boys in the approximate age range of my boys, and they’ve played together at the playground or at sports thus far. This was the first time we went to their house though, and my boys were really excited about the visit. As was I. My friend is one of the people I’ve met at the playground who has been helpful and kind, and who seems to have similar ideas about child care; nursing, etc. and so I’ve been looking forward to talking to her beyond the usual playground chit-chat. It has been a while since I spent time with a friend – any friend, really - and it was great just to hang out with someone. I love my husband, we’re best friends, but I find female friends important as well, and these past months have been absolutely and completely female-friendless. It was a great afternoon, and the boys and I, all, had a good time.
When I think about friendships, I someimes envy the people I went to school with who stayed in our hometown. My big brother for example, stayed, married his high school sweetheart, and they went on to have kids, build a house, work a career, start a business – everything – along with their childhood friends who also stayed. Now their kids are grown, have left home, and they do things together again as good old friends. My brother’s best friend at the age of almost 50 is one of his best friends from school. That’s a long, lasting friendship.
I have good friends from school, friends that I grew up with that I stay in touch with, but we live thousands of miles apart, and I only see most of them every so many years. When we meet up, it’s like time never passed; there’s no awkward catching up. We just continue as great friends regardless that we live separate lives on separate ends of the globe. But that’s the thing though; we don’t get those everyday moments together. These are good friends for life, but you need something else as well; you need friends to share your everyday life with.
As a foreigner in a community, I find, you can form very close friendships with people over a shorter time, because you share a certain setting or experience, and you end up spending a lot of time together. There has to be a certain chemistry too, of course, but these are major factors. Throughout our years in Belgium, because we were so close to other couples in our situation (as graduate students in child bearing years, to put it bluntly), and because everyone’s families were so far away, we spent every holiday, occasion, pregnancy, birth, birthday, party, illness, good day, bad day - through sickness and sin - together, and we’re tied together for life by this certain bond. These are really close friends, and the knowledge that even though we are very far apart, we’re living the same, almost parallel, life, keeps up close, always. I miss these friends, scattered across the globe, every day.
So here we are in a new country, and we’re trying to make new friends; find people that we can share our everyday life with. It’s hard. Maybe because I’m older, or because we know by experience that it’s hard to find good friends. It’s harder here than in Cairo because there are no social set-ups like the ones we went through there, where the faculty services basically acted match makers. Here, because of the lack of faculty housing, we also live separated from other faculty families, and it seems like most everyone is settled. It takes time, and effort, emotional investments, and it’s hard work. Today though, I made progress, and it felt good. To friendship!