SO , last week I decided that I had a distinct lack of friends in my life, real friends, the kind you go and spend time with to rejuvenate you , the kind who live round the corner and you can just knock and collapse in their garden demanding a G&T. I have only one of these who are in my vicinity. I have other close friends, who probably fit the old adage that I can count them on one hand, but they don’t live within spitting distance, one is far far away in Australia , which may as well be the moon.
Anyway , my one friend who is my treasure , could one day up it back off to South Africa. She has no plans to , but life is a funny thing and no one really knows. I guess the only person who I can depend on to be with me for the rest of my days is my husband. And yes , he’s my best friend too , but he’s also my husband and that’s just not the same. Sometimes he’s hard work. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes you just need the simplicity of friendship with other women.
So , In my infinite wisdom and rather impulsively driven nature , I decided to post on the app ‘ Nextdoor’ to see if I could join a book club nearby , or if not , try and start one. I love books and I need more doorstep friends so this seemed to be a perfectly fabulous idea.
This is my habitual trend in my life, I have an idea and I throw it to the wind , or commit to it in some way and then it happens. I love this about myself , but I also go through a whole process of regret while it unfolds!
So , I sling it out there, 45 year old nurse, mother of teenagers, lover of books, nature and wine requires book club type post. A couple of days pass and I get a couple of eager responses , then it suddenly gains momentum and I have 12 women all desperate to join a book club. So at this point, regret and panic is setting in, I have committed to creating a book club, I have 12 women at my disposal. I quickly shut the post down , as I envision all these women trying to fit in my home … I now have to actually set things in motion to begin ! I have never been in a book club. I read books like a small child gobbling up sweets , but I know nothing about the nuances of a book club.
So last night , myself , my dear friend who was reluctant to join ( she’s a I only read a book a year person ) met with 6 other women in the local pub. It was like going on a blind date! It was such a surreal experience. There were moments of awkwardness as we started conversations, but overall we all had a pretty amazing evening! We laughed and got to know one another , shared our favourite books, shared what we did with our lives and who our children were. A right eclectic bunch of 40 something women creating new friendships. Who would have thought it would be so easy!?
I think as you get older you fear making friends, or that it’s a past-time of the young, where somehow you only make friends in the situations that life puts you in, like work, or the gym. Who would have thought making new friends off your own back , pushing yourself out there could be such a ride! We have made a plan , we have chosen a book and we all meet later this month to discuss it. With another 5 women who we haven’t met yet!
I think it was partly to do with the freedom of being yourself? Going out with work colleagues in my new (ish) job is a painful experience – I am naturally an outspoken , gregarious person , with a tendency to blurt stuff out without thinking, this gets worse when I drink wine! So I often spend the day after the night before, in a cloud of shame and anxiety about what I have said or done! This has got much better with age, as I learn to not give a fuck.
But what struck me as I remain on quite a high from this simple experience , is how easy it would have been not to do it. To spend my life in the same place, avoiding people generally is my usual disposition , not really sure why , as they obviously make me happy when they are the right people.. I think I have this odd tendency for being an extrovert while at the same time yearning for solitude, which can be a tricky balance as last night made me realise that I need to be around other women , they feed my soul..