Making friends as an adult
I moved to Essex about ten years ago and I didn’t know anyone here aside from my husband’s family. A few years ago I realised I was lonely, I didn’t have any local friends. I don’t have kids, so the usual meeting people at the playground didn’t happen for me.
When I joined my band, the musical director sat me next to someone and then said, ‘oh no, that’s a mistake…’ I got on great with her – A, although I was incredibly nervous, not least because I hadn’t actually picked up my flute for three years and I was in a wheelchair, at the time a hideously clunky and heavy one on hire from the Red Cross. This was the first time I had gone into a new situation in a wheelchair and it was causing me all sorts of anxieties. Also because of its size and heaviness the chair was so difficult to move, let alone get into a tightly formed band set up.
Over the next few months we chatted and I really liked her. I remember plucking up the courage to ask her out for a lunch one time. This was so awfully scary and intimidating thing to do and I was so nervous in the run up to it. What is actually she hated me, or thought I was an idiot, or was just going out with me from pity?
Like so many of these things, it was fine, we have a simillar taste in books and films, and we went on a coffee date a bit later. Obviously she and I have music in common too. When she went on maternity leave she and I walked a couple of times a month, with my Buster careening about the place and her baby in a sling and then a rucksack as she got bigger. When she returned to work we continued to walk, albeit only once a month or so, as well as seeing each other at band.
Now we text a couple of times a week, and I know that I can trust A. When I was having a bit of a mental health crisis I texted her and she came over that evening, not least because my husband was up north somewhere. She encouraged me to get the help I needed and then texted the next day to make sure I had. In fact when I hadn’t responded via text in 40 mins she found my husband on Facebook and messaged him. It’s reciprocal and I cancelled my evening plans when I found out she was spending her birthday evening alone as her husband was away on business. I arrived with flowers and nice Marks and Spencers food and cooked it all for her while she was putting her baby to bed.
This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I have found making friends as an adult to be incredibly hard, it’s not something I was great at while I was younger to be honest. It takes time and some vulnerability too. You have to put the effort in. Making friends and staying friends takes effort from both parties, and you have to both value the friendship. It is so easy to let time slip and realise you haven’t been out with friends for a long time. You have to reach out and put the dates in the diary. Send postcards for no reason. Text just to check in. Bring flowers.
Flowers are wonderful, it is something that so many of us just don’t do for ourselves (although I am blessed with a husband who has always bought me flowers, it was one of many reasons I married him), they are so decadent, to buy some for a friend seems to have a special quality, here – flowers for no purpose, I’m not trying to sleep with you, or apologise for something. I just thought you would like them!
Friendship does take the effort, but my goodness it is worth it!