i’ve avoided making friends in my new city because i left a hometown of too many friends which meant i felt chronic low-grade guilt for not spending enough time with any of them. i’ve been enjoying my guilt-free nearly friend-less new life for the past six months because i can stay home every night without feeling like i’m sneaking around for alone time. but i kinda accidentally made a bunch of friends yesterday, more than a dozen people and two dogs. i met renny first, a four-year-old standard poodle with a tennis ball in her mouth. renny is eleven-year-old izzy’s granddaughter. because izzy’s arthritic hips move slowly, renny runs ahead of her grandmother and her person to chase a tennis ball. renny ran waaaaaaayyyy ahead to greet me and invite me to throw her tennis ball. i threw the ball for renny, walked toward izzy, complimented the dogs to their person, and hiked on. the hundreds of miles of trails in my backyard loop in circles and connect thousands of other backyards; one of those backyards belongs to izzy, renny, and their person. after hiking different loops for another hour, i came upon renny, izzy, and their person again. their person wanted to talk to me, wondering why i was so brave (dumb?) to put my hand into an unknown dog’s mouth to retrieve a tennis ball and throw it. i told her i wasn’t brave; i listen well; i knew what renny wanted (hey lady, throw the ball) and i knew renny wouldn’t bite me because renny liked me. (besides, in 43 years i’ve only been dog-bitten once–by a rabid miniature breed generally considered to be something un-dog-like.) renny and izzy’s person was curious about me, asked questions, commenting with common relevance from her life, and within five minutes we were discussing the evolution of feminism over the past 50 years. we kept talking and ambling at arthritic izzy’s pace while i reached down to toss the ball for renny every time she returned it to me. after 20 minutes, izzy and renny’s person wanted my contact information but could tell i wasn’t gonna give it, so she didn’t ask. she told me at what time and which trails she takes her dogs for their daily walk, inviting me to join her any day…and i plan to…but i didn’t exchange contact info with her because i’m not ready for friend-related socializing expectations and obligations. i’m not ready to feel guilty for preferring to be alone 96% of the time.
rewind four days to last friday when i’m in that hometown where i have too many friends and not enough time to spend with any of them. i pick up the poetess in my rental car. the poetess and i have always driven cars that take us where we need to go on autopilot. our cars drive us; we don’t drive the cars. with the poetess in my rental car, the generic silver compact $30/day rental car knows better than we do about where we need to go. the rental car leads us to the most corporate cardboard coffee franchise with the unhappiest most-disliking-each-other employees to order two over-priced beverages that are barely drinkable. the poetess and i know we’re in exactly the right place because we’re both currently miserable and we don’t have to fake feeling any differently when we are together. we’re both feeling too unworthy to ask for a glass of water or fat-free milk for coffee. we mock ourselves and our situation. we laugh because we’ve already cried. we tell each other the truth without pretense or diminishing or trying to make anything sound better or easier because nothing is better or easier for us during this season. we make morbid jokes and laugh sadly with a wicked wretched tinge. she smokes in the no smoking area because it is too cold outside for any person less miserable to be there. that hour passes faster than every pain-filled other because it is the realest hour two friends can have.
fast forward to monday night, a few hours after my encounters with renny, izzy, and their person. i’m sitting in a room filled with a dozen compassionate humans doing their best to create inner peace to promote peace in the world. i belong in this room. i’m here to join in meditation with every person in this circle, blessing each other with our shared experience of oneness. i’m grooving in bliss and the sanskrit we’re chanting has got my chakras spinning in the correct directions and filled with golden light and i recognize the woman leading the meditation as my next spiritual grandmother, i recognize the diva sitting next to me as a familiar younger spirit sister, i recognize the articulate grace-filled goddess who volunteers with inmates and sex trafficked survivors as my next real friend in the months to come. but last night while feeling grateful for recognizing these people as my tribe and reaching out with my heart, i decided again to withhold my contact info until i’m ready to accept the responsibilities inherent in reciprocal intimate friendship. i already love these new friends but i need more alone time. i moved to this place for a new life filled with open space to become who i want to be in silence and aloneness. i’m barely half-formed…but i’ve found the friends who are waiting for me when i’m ready to receive them and they are magnificent.