The not-so-subtle art of making friends in your 40s
Do you remember how easy it was to make friends when you were growing up? I wasn’t exactly a shy kid, so for me it was effortless. I’ll never forget the day I was at the Hammonton Lake Park and met a girl who had the same Care Bears shirt on as I did. She came up to me and pointed out the fact that we both had the same shirt on and said those three magic words, “Want to play?” It was that simple. All of a sudden this girl and I went from strangers to best friends for the day playing like we’ve known each other for years. It was so easy.
Flash forward to me now in my 40s. Trying to make a friend feels like a living nightmare. I’m still not shy but I’m incredibly cautious because it’s way more involved than just running into someone who shares the same taste in clothes. I’m trying to weed out the weirdos because in my opinion, there are a lot of them out there. The last thing I want is someone sucking up my time with their utter nonsense. How I wish I could go back to finding a friend based on our fashion choices. In all seriousness, if anyone out there loves wearing a robe in public, there is a high likelihood that we could become best friends forever.
It’s not like I’m desperate for friends, I have them. The problem is they all live in New Jersey! We have remained just as close as we were when I lived there and when they come down to visit me, it’s amazing. The hard part is my youngest is making friends which puts me in the same room as their moms. From there I have to find the cool ones who I actually want to spend time with. I don’t know what kind of parent you are, but if my daughter makes a friend and I absolutely despise the mom, I won’t force myself to be around them again, which means she has to say adios to her new friend. I will not apologize for thinking/feeling that way, I’m too damn old to put myself in a situation that makes me uneasy and I refuse to do so. Maybe some of you are reading this and feeling like I’m crazy because making friends isn’t hard for you. I would take a guess and say you are a much better person than I am. I will admit I’m picky and I will give you a prime example as to why.
When I first moved to Florida, I did meet a woman who was seemingly normal. We hit it off and I really enjoyed her company. Our kids were the same age and they got along so well, even our husbands hung out. Then one day out of no where she revealed herself as what I can only describe as Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs. She was a total nut job. I’m not even trying to be funny, it was actually scary. It was so bad I seriously thought about changing my phone number. The only time I actually had to change my number in the past was when I dated someone who also was a total nut job. Looking back, the two of them would be perfect together! That freaked me out so much I swore I wasn’t going to make any new friends and would just stick to the ones I already had in N.J. The problem is, there are certain things I love doing, that my husband does not (the symphony, browse bookstores, getting massages and taking four hour trips around the health food store smelling all the herbs), and I would love a friend to go with me.
I even went as far as to join an app specifically to help moms meet. I thought it would be a fun way to swipe left or right on people you may or may not want to be friends with. I met a woman, let’s just call her Meg. Meg and I hit it off and decided to meet up for coffee. My husband was worried that I was going to end up getting trafficked. He told me this was an insane idea and warned me to be careful before I walked out the door. The conversation was going well. She was super nice and had a little girl the same age as my youngest. About 30 minutes in I realized Meg wanted more than just a cup of coffee and I had to politely decline informing her that I am in fact, not a lesbian. We were both equally shocked which was even more confusing. I wish I could have seen my face as I was piecing it all together. I feel like I know exactly what face I was making, but I had so much anxiety, I think I blacked out. Sadly, I’ll never know what really happened. I’m not going to lie, I was flattered, and felt that if I was a lesbian, she would have been out of my league for sure! I told her that, hoping it would make her feel better, but she still seemed annoyed.
I deleted the app as soon as I got back in my car and decided to swear off apps for good. A couple of months ago I did meet a woman named Samantha who is the absolute best. She is funny, smart, gets my sense of humor and makes me laugh whenever I’m with her. She is the first friend I made down here who I think is a keeper. I’m excited to see where our friendship goes and I’m so glad that when we go for coffee, that’s all she actually wants!
Kasi DeStefano was a longtime resident of Hammonton. She moved to Florida two years ago with her husband, two girls and dog, Pepper. She can be reached at candidlykasi@gmail. com.