I’ve always had trouble making friends. Possibly because I don’t enjoy large crowds or loud conversations, but probably because I have trouble making friends.
For years in I had only one or two friends with whom I shared a lot and whose lives I was a permanent mark. It took me over ten years to two others who were as bespectacled and as touched in the head I.
Before I got used to it I changed schools. And the friend-making process started again.
It took me a year and a half to find the one person who was around for a while. But alas, it was only a two year course.
Life happened. She went to college (or university) while interned intending to study from home. In the five years since, I found two co-workers I call friends.
And now I’ve moved again. This time, it’s across the seas. Down Under is my new found land.
But as is always the case with moving, I still had to make friends.
The older you get, though, the harder it becomes. You’re conscious of wet hair flying about, dry skin cracking in the wintery breeze, and the damned jet lag leaving you like a zombie every morning. Approaching people is daunting, your low voice could reveal your fear, and you never know if the old man returning your smile is being polite or responding to a whole different social cue.
So it was for me. I encountered folks walking in tank tops and shorts, running in speedos with dogs on their tail, and striding in suits and pointed shoes with a McDonald’s bag in their hands. Should I smile? Nod? Purse my lips and raise my eyebrows, ‘Sup?
I’d no idea. Oh, and sunglasses. I couldn’t guess if people were making eye contact or staring at the patch of autumnal trees over my head. Most times, they didn’t even see me. Being short doesn’t help.
What did help, though, was volunteering. I found a co-operative shop and cafe in town. A small non-profit organisation with a massive potential and an ambition to match. It’s a great place to work too. I dropped by one day to check it out. And a few days later, I was in the kitchen peeling onions.
It was the least I could do to help with the onion marmalade. I peeled about fifty onions—red, brown, and white. And all the while, I was making friends out of people I’d never met before. Like those onions, we all came from various places, too. It wasn’t much, but it sure seemed like the beginning another friendship.
Here we go again.