18 May 2006

New friend

I had a date last night. Not a romantic one with a man, but with a woman who is a friend of a friend. She moved to NYC from London last year; she's originally from Denmark. Our mutual friend thought I could be one of those early people who make your life in a strange new place a little easier, so I called her fairly soon after she got here.

We first met on a Saturday afternoon. It was pouring rain and we hadn't thought to tell each other what we looked like, but when the petite blonde woman with the umbrella was across the street looking confused -- I had told her to meet me someplace that turned out not to exist anymore -- it was impossible to mistake her for anything but Scandinavian.

That was last August. Since then, we've only exchanged a few email. A couple of months ago I arranged for her to come to my workplace to do a radio story -- she's a journalist -- but I was travelling on the day she came, so I hadn't seen her again until last night.

Before I was leaving the office, I mentioned that I was going to meet her, and a co-worker asked, "has she had the baby yet"? I didn't even know she was pregnant!

Clearly, I have not been a particularly good new friend to this woman. Which is fine; she looks well adjusted and happy, a month or so from her due date. We met at Lily's Wild Tea House in Chelsea. It was pouring rain again. We sat on the floor around our low table and chatted about our jobs, about this and that technology program in Africa (with our mutual friend, our common interest), which was what we had talking about the first time we met. It was pleasant, but the conversation never really took off.

I've always thought that the only way to have a real relationship, of any kind, with someone is through shared experiences. Which can take years to accumulate. But who has that kind of time anymore? Like regular dating, making a new friend, if you don't see the person every day at work, hinges on an hour or two here and there, taken away from the other, more reliably satisfying things you could be doing. But you've got to do it, if you want to have new friends. Why does it have to be so hard?


Blogger tammara said...

I know what you mean. New friendships are so difficult - because taking that time to nurture them appropriately is nearly impossible. People can be perfectly nice and wonderful, but for some reason you never "find the time" to see them. I've had to come to the conclusion that if you don't click, you just don't click, even if you enjoy the conversation somewhat or it seems like it should work because of all you have in common (personally I think having stuff in common is overrated).

I don't know what to tell you, because I'm the same way. It's definitely not much different than dating - if you want to deepen it, you have to put in effort. Sometimes, the effort just seems tiring. You need to feel it's worth your time. There's nothing wrong with that.

12:33 AM  

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