Everyone knows friendship is important. We are not rocks (we are not iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-slands). And everyone knows that building friendships takes time.
The easiest time I have ever had of making quality friends was when I moved to Ottawa. Living in residence put me in close quarters with other people my age, and my stage in life and it was so easy, I probably took the whole process for granted. My first roommate Amy has turned into a lifelong friend – without whom I’m sure I’d be a much different person. She taught me about recycling, and exercising and the Internet. Then I joined Campus for Christ and my social calendar started on FIRE. I had DGs and STMs and WMs and all manner of acronym filling my university provided agenda [Sidenote: Is anyone able to get their hands on a 2015/2016 Carleton Agenda for me? I’ve never found a better dayplanner].
Quality friends were everywhere. We had so much in common. We were young, we loved Jesus and we were all at this interesting stage in our lives, where we had an odd combination of unlimited free time, and no free time at all. During these precious years I met my kindred spirit, Andrea (with whom I have a spoken and unspoken eternal bond that gets stronger every year) and of course Dan Campbell, who I went on to marry. And so many other wonderful people who have printed themselves in my memories!
I took friends for granted then. I thought I would always have a robust social calendar, filled with poker nights, movie watching, pranks, making food together, going out for food together, playing Settlers of Catan and pick up soccer and gym dates.
I had no idea.
University is a very special time, during which, if you’re lucky – all the pieces fall into place and strong bonds form. Some which will last your whole life, and others which enrich one chapter of your story and then drift into memory.
Then we moved to Calgary.
And we knew no one.
And we had to start all over again.
And it was terrible.
After a few months of living in Calgary, Dan finally decided to have some work acquaintances over. When they knocked on the door I was the perfect hostess. I was so focussed on being the perfect hostess that I did not even notice one of the people standing on my door step was my roommate from uni – AMY HAD MOVED TO CALGARY! I had a friend!
Other friendships took longer to form. I went on kijiji’s friendship/networking site and responded to other people’s calls for friends. None ever got back to me. Well one did. But she was one of the “internet people”. I think you know what I mean. Karla, if you’re reading this, please stop tracking my every move.
We went to meet-ups (through meetup.com) and tried to meet-up with people. I went to documentary film showings, and dinners. We went to a no-kids couples meet-up, thinking it would be other young couples like us who either didn’t or couldn’t have kids and so we would bond over all the things we could do that our be-childed friends could not. It was nothing like that. It was a kid-bashing show. The whole time, all people did was talk about how much they hate children and how kids ruin your lives and how their friends who’d had kids were SO obsessed with their own spawn, there was no more time for friendship. [Dan and I subtlety make eye contact and slip quietly toward the exit].
Thankfully, we did end up lucking out and meeting a wonderful couple from the UK at a Dragonboat racing meet-up, of all places. Their experience of immigrating to Canada from the UK, leaving friends and family behind and starting a new life, just the two of them – helped Dan and I take a similar journey. In fact, they were the ones who encouraged us to go for Permanent Residency right off the bat, rather than applying later.
Not too long after arriving in Calgary I began working at a women’s organization. That is where I met most of the Calgary women I now consider friends. In fact, too many incredible women to name have come into my life through that job. Through the women there, I joined a book club, a craft group and built amazing friendships with strong, creative, vibrant, feisty women. My favourite!
Cut to now.
I knew it would be hard. But I have a plan.
My plan was to say yes to any invitation.
The problem is, I don’t have invitation to say yes to.
And when I get home from my teaching job, I’m quite wiped, and instead of changing into going-out-into-the-world-clothes and going out into the world, I change into jam-jams and watch the internet and do crosswords and garden by myself in my little garden until the sun goes down at 6.
Not many invitations coming up in the soil.
So, I need a new plan of attack.
1. Join a club.
2. Invite people to do stuff.
3. Think of a number three, because lists with only two things are sucky lists.
So I’ll keep you posted.
What’s that? You’re on the edge of your seat?