|Flickr / shhh, it's a secret|
As I write this, I'm sitting in the corner of a coffee shop I've never been to, waiting for a woman I've never met to walk through the door. Because I'm a chronic worry wart, I've arrived early (twenty minutes, just in case she is ten minutes early), so that I can order my coffee and settle in before she arrives.
This is the first time I've reached out to someone online and made plans to meet them in person. I feel as though I'm meeting a potential mate that I've sourced through a dating website. Actually, the process of making new friends at my age is kind of like the beginning stages of dating. At least for me it is.
What's running through my mind is: what if I bore her? What if we find we have nothing in common and the conversation suffers? What do I really even know about her beyond the few things I could decipher from her instagram feed? She has a son, like me. She enjoys knitting, like I do. She lives in Las Vegas and is a health coach. These four things are all that I know about her, and so as I sip on my too-hot, too-strong coffee, my nerves kick into overdrive and I find myself sweating through the navy blue, v-neck tee I chose for the occasion.
Meeting new people in your early thirties is so different than when you're younger. The stakes are higher now. You don't want to waste your time with someone who doesn't share any common interests, or who isn't looking for the same level of commitment as you are.
There I go again sounding like I'm looking to date this woman.
Let me expand.
I am thirty years old, married with an almost two year old son. When I moved to Las Vegas in January of 2011, I left behind a small group of amazing girlfriends. At this point in my life, I'm looking for people who want to form a real friendship, individuals whom I can relate to, respect, look up to, and find inspiration from. Is this a tall order? Yes and no.
In retrospect, I don't think it's too much to ask for. The real issue I'm finding is that women my age aren't necessarily looking to form a Great New Friendship. They already have a group of friends who fill this role and many others. So when I do meet someone new, I'm often relegated to the Casual Friend category. You know what I mean: the friend of a friend who you only see when a big group of girls get together. The friend whose number you somehow have in your contacts, but you never really text her. You don't think of her that often because you're busy, or you have other friends with whom you spend a lot of your time.
I'm looking for a Real Friendship, capitals necessary. And so, when the woman I've been waiting for walks through the coffee shop door, I realize just how high my hopes are. I also silently acknowledge that she has no idea just how much hope I am projecting on to this meeting. I make a mental note to chill the hell out.
As I already have my coffee, she heads over to the counter and orders a hot chocolate, and I realize that I like her already. Any thirty-one year old woman who can order a hot chocolate with a straight face is the kind of person I want to spend my time with.
She sits down in the red arm chair across from me and smiles. I think we're both a little nervous, but that could just be me projecting. I ask her how her day has been so far.
What transpires is that over the next hour and a half we talk about our lives, our kids, our jobs, hopes and dreams. With every minute that passes, I feel a little more comfortable and I open up more.
That she is the first one to say: we should do this again soon, fills me with hope. For the first time, I think: maybe she is in the same situation as I am: craving new friendships but having a hard time finding them. Perhaps she, like me, is also looking for something Real.
I suppose that at this point I can only hope, and only time will tell.