Making friends as an adult is difficult, and keeping friends isn’t easy either. This has been particularly true for me this past year. More or less isolated in Palo Alto, I have spent many of my weekends alone doing laundry, writing, napping and going to yoga class. I had all but written off rekindling old friendships due to poor transportation systems and limited time and resources.
As I mentioned last week, I have come to terms with the fact California is home for the time being because that is where I am. Home must be where I am. If it’s not, I will never know peace. One of the reasons I was reluctant to call California “home” is because I assumed that it meant my friendships would need to die because the distance was so great, but that is an old lesson learned in school and that ceases to be applicable afterwards.
Friendships — relationships generally — need to defy geography. You can’t always be close to all of the people you love. Staying in touch can be difficult, however, when you lack the financial resources to travel. It just so happens I have resources I didn’t have before. It was part of the deal I made with myself when I decided to move back to California: only go back if you can accumulate the resources to spend time with the people you care about.
So, this week, I made a decision to go to New York City and book a ton of meals and coffees with friends I missed dearly and had not seen in years. I was going to do nothing but make myself available for the people I cared about, including my partner.
I traipsed up and down Manhattan, leaning heavily into the glorious (but beleaguered) New York subway system. It rained almost constantly, but it was one of the best days of my life. I heard about work challenges, marriages, engagements, new babies. I hugged people who felt familiar and wonderful, and I asked as often as I could, “How can I be helpful?” I shed some light on where I ended up, how I got there and some background on choices I had made. I laughed with my friends and held their hands as they told me difficult stories of love and loss. They warmed every piece of me, reminding me that I am so much better for each and every one of them.
I set aside any sadness I felt for missing their life milestones and replaced it with joy over their triumphs. I was so happy to see how each of them had grown, found their footing and were running teams and projects and telling award-winning stories. Each and every friend who spent time with me made me whole.
The secret to rekindling friendships is setting everything else aside and just saying “go”. Go to the dinner, book it alongside the coffee, then book that alongside the lunch, the tea, the brunch, and the breakfast. Pack in as many people as you physically can. Say “no” to no one. Dedicate days to just being with people. Make a vacation of visiting with friends.
This week, my only responsibility was my transportation and showing up on time. I didn’t make any other commitments. I just focused on my friends. That made it one of the best vacations I have ever had.
Thank you to each and every friend who made time for me, hugged me, and shared with me. Thanks, especially, to my partner, Tim, for joining me and introducing me to Museum Hack
— the best museum tour I’ve ever had — and one of the best dates he's treated me to yet.
This vacation was really a break from my lonely grind — a trip full of life, love and laughter. Make space for your friends and, if they are really your friends, they will fill that space with everything you need, stirring the embers of a fire that can never go out.