Before I start, I should say this post is just a rant, word vomit, whatever you want to call it. It’s not meant to be a “woe is me” pity post.
I have two tickets to see “Casablanca” on the big screen tonight. And I’ll be going alone, which, isn’t totally awful because it means I don’t have to share my popcorn and no one will judge me when I go back out for more butter when I reach that dry spot halfway through the bag, but it’s also another reminder of how isolating military life can be.
It’s not that I don’t have friends. I have lots of them. Lots of amazing, funny friends. The problem is, they live everywhere but here. In almost ten years I’ve lived in four towns in three states. At first, making friends was easy. When we lived in South Florida, we were attached to a larger station. We were all young and childless and spent every weekend at house parties or bars or at the beach. A friend was always a phone call and a beer away.
Fast forward a few years and Bunny was born. A month later, I packed up and lived at my brother’s house while the husband went away for six months. I was battling with (what I didn’t realize at the time) post-partum anxiety and depression and I was trying to figure out how to keep a tiny human alive, but I always had my sister-in-law to hang out with at night.
Then we moved to Virginia. I was determined to have a life outside of pumping and nursing so I joined a local mom’s group. I went to every playdate and Mom’s Night Out possible. I ended up becoming friends with J. We bonded instantly over our love of wandering Target at 9:30pm and Starbucks. She was the kind of friend I could call and spend an hour on the phone with, even if we just saw each other the day before. We hung out just to spend time together (and our kids, and husbands, got along) and we forced each other out of the house on days where we were beyond stressed and done (she usually did the coaxing and I did the resisting.) We threw each other baby showers and she was the first person to visit and hold Bubba. As always, the military separated us a couple of years later. This time, J went first to Florida and we moved to WNY a few months later.
I made it through the first year here without feeling totally alone. We were busy settling into the house (and later buying it from our landlord) and I was traveling a lot. I keep busy with work and keeping not one, but two, humans alive.
But still, on days like today? Today, I wish my friends didn’t all live hundreds of miles away. I miss having someone I can just call up and meet at Target for no reason other than I need to get out. I would love to have a girlfriend to drag to Casablanca (and then have “thanks for sitting through an old movie with me” cocktail after.)
It’s not easy making friends as an adult. We all know this. I can’t show up at school drop-off with a Rainbow Loom and ask Sally if she wants to be friends. I find it harder to make friends now that my kids are getting older, too. Joining a mom’s group just doesn’t seem like a logical step for me anymore. I don’t want to have playdates and go on group trips to the zoo. I never really liked playdates to begin with, but it was a way to be near my people…new moms who haven’t showered in days and just needed human interaction before they exploded.
I’ve passed out my number at both kid’s schools and there’s always the nice “we should totally get together for coffee” comment, but then it’s “sorry I didn’t call you back [insert excuse here]“. I feel like I’m dating all over again, wondering if there’s a three-day-rule for calling a parent for coffee. It’s like trying to find “the one”, but instead of a life partner, I’m looking for a two-year coffee partner because I know I’ll move again someday and have to start the process all over again.
It’s tiring and it’s draining and it’s lonely. It doesn’t mean I’m unhappy or that I regret marrying into this life, because I’m neither. I know I’m surrounded by friends who love me, even if they love me from 800 miles away.
Maybe, my whole point in this lovely 1,000 word vomit is, if there’s a new mom in your neighborhood or at your kid’s school and she asks you out for coffee, consider saying yes, even if you already have enough friends in your life. You never know how much of a difference you may make in hers.