Making New Friends as We Grow Older

One thing I didn’t consider when we moved our little family to a new state was a specific section of my daughters’ school forms. Back in hometown Alabama, I had too many people for the amount of ‘emergency contacts’ I was allotted. Here in Georgia … I just stared at the blank form and thought, “Well, bollocks.” 

After careful deliberation, I put down my publisher’s name; he’s the one who hired me, after all. Plus he’s a newspaper publisher, which means he’ll pretty much always answer his phone. Did it matter that, at that point in time, my daughters wouldn’t recognize David if they passed him on the street? A tiny, insignificant detail. 

That moment, along with plenty of other moments over the years, reminded me that it gets more and more difficult to make new friends as I grow older. Why is that? Sure, my husband’s and my work schedule and then the kids’ gymnastics and play practices and ukulele lessons and guitar lessons … all of that makes it near impossible to find time for a date night — and that’s just the two of us. Once we factor in another couples’ chaos along with it … how anyone double dates is a wonder.

That reason alone was why it was especially kind when David and his wife — whom readers of The Walton Tribune might recognize as  the lovely Carla from David’s columns — invited us for dinner. I’d met Carla years ago when I worked for our sister newspaper in Alabama, but she and I’d never had a real conversation. So I’d put enormous pressure on this evening. “Please, please, please let her be cool,” I kept telling my husband — as if he had control of such things. 

Nothing like impossibly high expectations to make everything run smoothly, eh? 

But as it turns out, we ended up shutting down that incredibly socially-distanced patio-ish bistro that evening. And just like that, ta-da! A new friend!

But the question remains … Other than simple time constraints, why else is it so cumbersome to develop new friendships as we get older? The worldwide pandemic isn’t helping, of course. The usual avenues — classroom holidays, birthday parties, local book clubs, etc. — aren’t available. But still …

Is it because we’re so tired at the end of our days and our weeks? I’m not as spirited and peppy as I once was. Is it because we’re not nearly as wild and crazy as we once were, because let’s face it — some of my wild and crazy moments are what cemented my dearest friendships. Is it most likely a little bit of this, add in a dash of that? To be sure.

My husband and I have since spent other evenings with Carla and David that were equally as enjoyable as the first — it always helps when everyone has a similar sense of humor, doesn’t it? And this weekend is a big step — my daughters will finally get to know the people listed as their emergency contacts. A tiny — but very significant — detail.

* This column first appeared in The Walton Tribune on February 20, 2021 *

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