Making friends as an adult is a tough business. When I lived in Florida, I never thought about it, because when you live in one place for thirty years, the good ones stay around for ever after. I knew I’d miss my girl friends—mostly the full-on belting laughter and jokes, the sentences that didn’t need endings, the day trips and overnights—but I absolutely underestimated the difficulty of finding good girlfriends who can turn a story into a joke.
When I knew I would be leaving Tampa, and had to choose one place from seven, I went with Omaha because though I didn’t have any roots there, I had smoke signals. I was a ghost who had haunted the place, off and on, for eight years, and thought that was more than enough to get started.
And it was okay. Omaha was okay. But making friends was tough. Three years in, I was talking to my creative writing class about it (because, I mean, my classes were totally who I talked to most of the time, especially to get advice about the social dynamics of the city), and they explained a good amount of things about Nebraskans. The big reveal though, the a-ha moment that answered the question of why, at that point in time, I had only hung out with two girls, separately, once a piece, at non-work related events, is this: niceties sidestep the truth.
My creative writing class explained how it always happened, even to them, people who had lived their whole timelines in the Midwest, and knew the score. It’s like this: you go out with a maybe-soon-to-be friend, you have a great time, and at the end of the night, you say “see you soon” or “we should totally do this again” or “best night evr!!!” And you drive away feeling alright, and that’s the end. You never hang out again. That’s the hand the Nebraskans deal, and man, is that depressing and self-alarming (remember when I dyed my hair brown? I thought it'd be the magic move).
Three years was a long time to wait for this information, and I got it right at the tail-end, right when I knew we were on our way out of the Midwest and moving into Mountain Time.
The thing about making friends in Florida is this: most everyone is from somewhere else, and being someone from the state is a novelty to anyone new. These two aspects made friend-making easy. Everyone was looking for someone else. Everyone was up for a party.
But move to the insides of the country, and you realize that’s not the easy case. It isn’t just that lots of people have their forever-friends around (like my good funny Florida girls), but they have shared interests because where they live, that’s what you do.
When I moved to Omaha, I thought it was weird there were no dance clubs—so that was a no-go that I’d relied on from the start (my girlfriends and I were making up dances from 7 years old up). But there is a great writing community (which pulls one out of her room), and I thought about other ways to meet girls. I went to the gym a lot (God, how this doesn’t work), and I took a lot of yoga (my friends, this is not a social sport—it’s still in the range of niceties). Three months in, I started ballet. Meeting girls didn’t work so well the first year, though it did kind of work the second. Eventually, I realized my socialization would occur at work, work related events, and organized activities. (This is the chin-up, Annie, point of the story. Not as good as the original, but okay, I guess. In truth, the best girl night I had occurred four days before I moved away [right?], and I'm pretty sure more times like that will happen, when I come back to town [seriously, the thing about good girlfriends is that they are worth traveling for. my best Florida funny girls are coming to see me in May, and I'm telling you, I am preoccupied with thoughts of fun times ahead]).
So now I am in Rapid City, about a month in. There is a girl gang in my community, but they’re all 65+ and all have little, snapping dogs. They are nice, but we don’t understand each other’s half-sentences, and no one has made me laugh. There is no writing community or adult ballet here, and I went to one Ballet Booty Barre class and met a pilot who is deploying to Quatar soon, she seemed nice, but that class was canceled in favor of ballroom. And I don’t know if I would find the girls I’m looking for at a ballroom class. So there’s the gym, which really, is always weird. There’s group-silent yoga. There are a ton of fine arts classes, but God, I am awful at throwing clay and painting (when I had to take pottery in high school, my big project was a cookie plate I made with cookie cutters). So all the things I do: photography, sewing, ballet, club dancing, and writing, aren't community-sets. So I have to think of something new. Maybe tennis. There might be some funny-girl tennis players around town.