Finding friends at any age
Last night at the pub I wrote my phone number down, to give to a man I’d just met.
I wanted to add some words to give context. What words would make it okay? I was giving my number to a married man with two little kids, in front of his drunk bachelor party friends, while my boyfriend stood beside me. At the door to the pub my confidence failed me (or my better judgment won) and I crumpled the note in my pocket.
Why did I want, so very much, to stay in touch with this drunk tourist I barely knew? I’m not lonely. I have friends and acquaintances and long distance messenger chat groups and a close-knit family. And I love spending time alone. All my favourite hobbies are solitary.
But, I don’t have a community of people like me.
First I left university, then I left the professional workforce, then we sold our farm and left the foodie world, then my husband (aka soulmate) died, and then I moved back to my small hometown. Somewhere along the way I disconnected from the people I could really talk to. The people who read like I do, who want to talk about ideas and fears and parenting philosophies and what it means to live a “good” life.
Last night at the pub a drunk man confessed to me that he’s terrified of September: this year he has to teach high school English in a new reality of AI. I stopped dancing. I wanted to sit down and discuss this properly.
For the first time in years, I felt a spark of intellectual connection with a stranger.
Despite the loud music and echoing tile floor and raucous bachelor’s party, my new friend and I managed to talk about the value of self expression, how to teach critical thinking, parenting dilemmas around YouTube videos, and the existential crisis of today’s writers and creative thinkers.
The bachelor party was migrating four blocks to the night club. I missed my chance to give my new friend my phone number: I won’t see him again. That flicker of friendship puffed out, and I felt immediate grief. I wasn’t just mourning the loss of this one person. I was sad because, having felt that…