Archive | September, 2011

First Date

27 Sep

It has slowly dawned on me that making new friends is very much like dating.  I hated dating. I have been married for almost 21 years, but I can still close my eyes and call up the feeling of nausea that accompanied every first date I ever went on (and many second and third dates as well).

The day I got married was the happiest day of my life in part because it meant that I would never have to go on a first date again, God willing.  (This is the point at which my husband, reading this, says, “What about me?  Weren’t you happy because you were marrying ME?”  Of course I was happy about marrying you, Dear.  But this blog isn’t about you; it’s about me, and on our wedding day, in addition to being very happy that I was marrying you, I was very, very happy that I would never have to go on a first date again, God willing.)

Except that when you are fifty, and working from home, and trying to meet new friends, you end up on what can only be called friend-first-dates.  Which are painfully like all other first dates. Which, I think I’ve mentioned, I really, really hated.

Last week, I met the friend-of-a-friend, Susan, for lunch.  We had exchanged hellos in a yoga class taught by the friend we shared in common, but we didn’t really know each other.

As I was getting ready to leave my house, I felt that familiar first twinge of queasiness and small heart flutters of panic.  All of the same first date worries that had plagued me decades ago came rushing back.  Should I greet her with a hug, or would she think I was too forward?  If I didn’t hug her, would she think I was cold and standoffish?  What if I had the time wrong and she had already been waiting at the restaurant for a half an hour?  What if I got something green stuck in my teeth, and it looked really awful but she couldn’t tell me because she doesn’t know me well enough yet?  What if I spilled soup all over myself?  What if we had nothing in common (which I knew wasn’t the case because we both do yoga and are both writers, not to mention both Jewish, married, mothers, and residents of the same town).  But, still, what if…?

Luckily, Susan was already seated at a table when I arrived (and not because I was horribly late), so we finessed the hugging thing.  I sat down, and we started talking, and…nothing awful happened.  Despite my heaps of worries, I did not spill anything, and we found plenty to talk about.  She was funny, with the kind of dry, self-deprecating sense of humor that I both enjoy and aspire to, and because I knew almost nothing about her, everything she shared was interesting and new.  We stayed through the entire lunch rush, and made tentative plans for a “second date.”

A friend-first-date is not a friendship, but it is a start.  Susan and I came to our first lunch like two pages from a coloring book – black-and-white outlines of ourselves.  But over the course of a couple of hours, we began, a little bit, to fill in the colors of our lives and our selves. I hope we will continue.

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