I need more…

I need more friends.

This sounds sort of ridiculous when I have nowhere near enough time to keep up with the friends I have. But my friends fall into four categories:

  • best friends for aeons who live far away: Roshani, Kirsten, Karina, Alex, Lisette, Jed, etc. -- these are all great and tremendously important to me, but mostly we only have phone contact, and I'm having trouble chatting on the phone these days, because it's hard for me not to feel like I ought to be working then. Yes, I have issues.

  • good friends who live in the city and are Very Busy People, so I see them once every other month if I'm lucky: Lori, Venu, Simone, etc.

  • friends who make an effort to come to my parties even though it's a hike for them now and I really appreciate it but still, I only see them 3-4 times a year now, and only when I throw a party or manage somehow to make it to an arts / SAPAC event in the city which are usually in the evening when I'm exhausted or on the weekend when I have kid-duty: Devi, Manish, Heather, Aaron, David, Beth, etc.

  • colleagues -- whom I like a lot, but I think a work/life separation is maybe a good thing, and at the very least, I feel I should limit my most embarrassing behavior around them

I need more local friends! We have Daniel and Anne, Ron and Liz, Samanthi, and that's it. (Samanthi, we should get together more.)

I don't care whether my new friends are parents or not, although it might make getting together a little easier if they have small kids. It'd be ideal if they have time on weekdays, but weeknights and weekends are okay, as long as they're in Oak Park or the environs -- no more than a ten minute drive away. I'm looking mostly for smart, interesting people I can have good conversations with, because there's a dearth of that in my life these days, especially during the summer when I'm not teaching. (Kevin is great, but all we ever talk about these days is logistics and house and kids and how it'll be nice when we actually have time together again....) It'd be great if they shared one of my favorite activities: knitting/crocheting, board games, writing in cafes. But it'd also be good to have someone to work out with, or just someone to meet for tea and half an hour of chat.

And I miss my big college crowd, and my big Bay Area crowd -- not the specific people so much, but just having so many friends that there was always a fun event or two on the weekend, and you'd see most of the same people there, and it was casual and relaxed and there were always a few people up for a board game or a movie or just hanging around in someone's apartment cooking and eating and eventually drinking and maybe fooling around some. (Okay, that last was mostly the bi group at Chicago, and I'm really not expecting to find that again given that most people I know are married and monogamous, but still.)

I'm not expecting to move to Oak Park and suddenly have a ton of new best friends. But I'm lonely. I find myself constantly trying to persuade my friends to move to Oak Park. And when I meet interesting new people (like our neighbors Ron and Liz), I have to be careful not to come on so strong I terrify them. (Please be my bestest friend!!! I will love you forever!!!)

I think this will get better when the kids are older and in school and I'm meeting other parents and am not so overwhelmed by life on a daily basis. I do. But WisCon reminded me that there really is a dearth of great adults in my day-to-day life. I want David M. and Ben and Jessie and Haddayr to move to Oak Park. And oh, about a hundred other WisCon-ites. As Kavi says when she's asking for candy, that would make me SO happy.

13 thoughts on “I need more…”

  1. I am not going to move to Oak Park, but I am available for phone conversations almost anytime, if that is any help. I have your cell phone number, unless you have changed it, if you would like a call.

  2. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Thanks, David — but as I said, phone is exactly what I don’t need at the moment. I’m feeling very anti-phone these days, not sure why. 🙁

  3. I wish you lived near me too!!

    A pair of thoughts:

    Do you ever walk for exercise, and could you do phone calls then? (I am hating the phone right now so perhaps the answer is just no, but since you mention the need-to-work issue I thought maybe a different kind of “work” might help.)

    Did you sign up for that aikido class? I’ve learned recently that when I have very little time or energy, it’s oddly replenishing to spend time in a physical activity with the same people, week after week. The stakes are low, but there’s definitely a kind of social connection that really feeds me. And, of course, I’m working out so I don’t need to be doing something else, so it’s like FREE HUMAN INTERACTION!

    I am not sure why that suddenly went into all-caps. I think I still find the concept counter-intuitive and exciting.

  4. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Heh. I do play World of Warcraft, but I’ve never learned how to play with other people. I just do solo stuff, which sometimes helps me de-stress, but mostly feels like jumping through stupid hoops created by the game designers. So I don’t play so much. I do have a level 30+ paladin who I would like to move up in the ranks, when I have time to play again.

    Jessie, that’s a good idea, the walking / phone thing. I do phone calls while I’m commuting now (sometimes, when I remember to get the hands-free set-up ready in advance), but I hadn’t thought about it for walking. I think I have a hard time thinking of walks as real exercise still, which makes it hard to motivate to do it. But I should just get over that. It’s stupid.

    The aikido class is on hold until the move is over, and possibly until the upcoming spate of travel is over. Not sure about the latter. Will have to revisit the schedule post-move, next week. I agree, that kind of class interaction does help a bit. But I think I’m looking for something more solid, in the long run at least. A class might help some short-term, though, and could maybe lead to a real friendship.

  5. I can relate! Most of my friends fall into the same categories. I’ve tried making friends with some of my kids’ moms, and they’re all very nice ladies, but I haven’t made strong connections with any of them yet. I’d like to get involved with a class so that I can find someone local who shares the same interests I do — but I’m already a bit overextended so adding something else to my schedule isn’t a terribly good idea right now. For now I just have to “settle” for email contact with my close friends.

  6. I don’t want to presume (because as someone who kind-of met you and has read your work I’m not really a friend), but I wanted to comment because I think this is a REALLY common problem for non-traditional moms. You do need someone geographically close, and the places that are atypical friendly, are often not very child friendly. And I’m totally fascinated that I’m not the only one who found a martial arts solution to the problem. It’s limited, but it helps.
    (and I would volunteer for friendhood, but I’m about 30 minutes away from Oak Park. 🙂 )

  7. Julia Kholodenko

    Specific thought. Do you know David Shoham and Gretchen Decker? David went to U of C and is probably your year maybe plus/minus a year. They live in Forest Park, have an infant, he teaches epidemiology at UIC. She used to be in publishing for a long time and now works with animals. I think they fit your search parameters for new friends pretty well. And hey I’ve been roommates with you and David, so that’s one more thing you’ve got. You can email me if you’d rather say anything privately with regards to this.

  8. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Julia, I don’t know them, and they sound great. But I feel a little weird cold-calling someone and saying, ‘will you be my friend?’ :-/ And what if I don’t like them after all? Tricky.

  9. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Kat, your note is so sweet! If you’re ever driving through town, do drop me a line, and maybe we can have tea?

    And Kimberly, yes, overextended is a big part of the problem too. 🙁

  10. Julia Kholodenko

    You showed me such kindness, compassion, and generosity during a very difficult period of my life. Instead of returning the favor, I’m pretty sure I caused you a fair bit of grief. I would like to do something nice for you. I don’t know Gretchen nearly as well as I know David, but I would be happy to contact her and tell her I have a friend who shares a similar life journey, from u of c, (she worked at uofc press) through academic wandering, and back to the area. She’s gone through the same thing as far as meeting numerous friends in each place but not having much in the way of people close by where she lives now. Also, I’m pretty sure David and Kevin would really like each other. So, if I could do something that would enhance your life, it would mean a lot to me. If you and Gretchen meet up for tea and don’t click, well nothing ventured nothing gained right?

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