A climber friend of mine out in Seattle, one of the most self-confident and. . . for lack of a better word, cool, women I’ve ever met, sent me a text after I published my last blog post on friendship. “Are our 30s the decade of friend dating?!?” She then went on to lament about some of the pitfalls of modern day friendship, the same sentiments that I saw again and again the comments you left me here.
Leave it to Jen, a talented editor, to sum up exactly what I’d been trying to say in one hard-hitting phrase. Our 30s certainly are the decade of friend dating, at least for anyone who has ever moved to a new town, or had kids, or didn’t have kids but everyone else did, or had interests that changed over the years, or came down with a chronic illness, or worked a demanding job, or got married.
That’s an awful lot of us.
Just like dating dating, it can be time-consuming, frustrating, often fruitless, and every so often can lead to loving, meaningful relationships, without which life would be an empty husk.
Nobody wants to be husking through life.
But dating can take so much energy. And there are rules.
I really felt this instagram comment by @happythis: My good friend Emily and I were on a long car ride today, and commented how hard it is to find friends who like to DO stuff anymore. It seems so many don’t have fun unless it requires a lot of wine or a very expensive dinner. What ever happens to embracing play or even sledding?
What may have stood out to me the most about this comment was that she was on a long car ride with her friend Emily. Long car rides with girlfriends are the best. I haven’t had one in quite some time.
Remember how luxurious it was when we had days and days to spend with our friends? That was the best thing about college- how an afternoon together could melt into evening activities, and sometimes we’d fall asleep at one another’s houses without having planned it, and then there we were running to the store to buy breakfast and another full day of hanging out had begun.
Whenever we had long stretches of time and no solid plans- that’s always when things got interesting.
We won’t have spools of time like that again for a long, long time, and I understand that. Everything has its own season. But I find it difficult to build those types of easy and intimate friendships just by coffee dates alone. I know that many people can find all the connection they need by sitting and talking for hours, but for a restless body like myself, I need to get out and do something together to truly start forming that bond.
That’s easier said than done.
The adventure I’ve had my sights on for a while, one that I’d really like to do with a buddy, would looks like this: I’d pick you up super early and we’d find coffee in town. Coffee is essential for this outing. Then we’d drive 2 ½ hours to Boone, listening to the radio and becoming more talkative as the morning progressed, and spend the day scrambling up the icy side of Grandfather Mountain. Then the long drive back to Asheville, dinner somewhere on the way home- we’d be starving- and ultimately I’d leave you back at your place.
Or maybe just half a day to wander around town together, browsing in the bookshop and looking into shops with no real agenda, no purpose or errand or greater cause driving us other than simply wanting to spend time together and be laid back and not have to make eye contact the entire time.
Those days are very precious and very few and far between, for most of us. Even for old friends, it’s rare to find someone who will commit to more than a few hours. There are too many demands on our time, 40 hours is a lot of time to be at work each week, and most people work more than that.
This is true, but I know that if I was more efficient, and better at organizing my slices of free time, I could easily pack them all into one entire carefree day. And I’d love to give that day to a friend. It would take some coordination, communication, commitment, time investment- all freaky things if you’re ‘dating’.
Now, speaking of time. I believe our time together today is over. It’s been snowy here in Asheville, and I’ve been home for many days in a row. Probably time for me to walk into town. I’m in my thirties, after all, it’s important for me to put myself out there.