Making friends is hard.
Oh, how I long for the days of walking across the playground and up to another child pronouncing, "We're friends now," and skipping off to the swings hand-in-hand.
I grew up in a small town and, with the exception of the years I spent in college, lived in that same small town until I was 31 years old. Since then I've lived in two different states. Fortunately, I've made friends in both, but it hasn't always been easy. I've had to step out of my comfort zone. I've had to put myself out there. It's hard, you guys.
When was the last time you heard a man talk about another man as he walked away. "Oh. My. God. Did you seeeee his pants? Way too tight. Hideous." It just doesn't happen. Women, on the other hand, are horrible. I'm sorry ladies, but we are. I don't know how many times I've been in a situation where one woman has had something negative to say about another woman in the room. Whether it's her clothes or her hair or her size, it's always something. It irritates the shit out of me and it makes me want to punch kittens. As I stand there I can't help but think, "Well, hells bells. I wonder what she's going to say about me when I leave?!" And then I consider never walking away ever. Think about that if you're someone who does this. And knock that shit off. Seriously. It's awful and it makes everyone feel bad and you JUST SHOULDN'T DO IT.
Knowing women are this way makes it hard to be confident (read: ballsy) enough to lend yourself to the vulnerability of meeting new people. However, after all this time of living in a city of strangers, I've learned that it's pretty much a necessity unless I want to live a life of friendless solitude (believe me, there have been times when I've considered that option).
Yesterday I got a pedicure. Not something I do often, but I'm going to an event next week where I'll be wearing open-toed shoes and it had to happen. Anyway, I'm sitting in the pedicure chair when a woman comes in and sits down in the chair next to me. The employee asks her what kind of pedicure she wants and she answers, "Whichever one takes the longest. I want to be here as many minutes as possible." I kind of laughed to myself and we gave each other the familiar look that says, "I feel ya, sistah." As we sat there, we started visiting. We talked about kids and jobs and husbands and travel and lots of other "small talk" subjects, but it was pleasant. Neither of us had any reason to be anything but ourselves. We'd never met before and would likely never see each other again. It was great because I am a huge fan of bullshit-free zones. When you enter a friendship with me, what you see is what you get. No bullshit allowed.
We both finished our pedicures at the same time and were standing at the checkout counter still chatting. She started to walk out the door when I stopped her and said, "Wait. I hope this isn't weird, but here's my number. I've learned that sometimes you just have to tell someone that you want to be friends. Call me if you want to go to lunch or something sometime." Surprised, she took the piece of paper and looked at it. Then she looked at me and said, "Thank you. Thank you for this. It's not weird at all. I'd love to go to lunch."
Whether or not we'll actually go to lunch one day remains to be seen. Maybe. Maybe not. She may never call. But I put myself out there and gave a big fat middle finger to any fear of rejection I had, and it was awesome and refreshing and a little bit liberating.
I don't know why we've made adulthood so hard. Be nice. Be a friend. Revisit the playground sometime.