on making friends.

by la rebelde

A few weeks ago I was catching up with a close amiga who is also fairly new to her current city. We are both still in search of good friends our respective areas. I have a few in the LA area, but we don’t get to see each other as often as we should. And one (maybe two) is moving away soon, which makes me kind of sad. Amiga was saying that when she met certain friends, she knew immediately that they’d be “friends for life.” That’s only happened to me a couple of times. With others, it’s taken some time for us to become comfortable with each other. I suppose it’s that way with relationships of all sorts.
I arrived (fashionably) late to the party. It wasn’t the kind of party I’m used to. The birthday girl (BG) was in her third trimester, so things were pretty low-key. There was no alcohol, no dancing, but there were cupcakes, which I love!

I’ve only hung out with BG a couple times. She’s one of those LA acquaintances who I like, but haven’t gotten to know very well yet. And she and her husband were the only people I knew there. When I arrived, all dozen party-goers were sitting in a circle on the floor around the coffee table, where all the snacks were laid out. They seemed to know each other already and were in the midst of a vibrant conversation about random topics like pop music. I took a chair next to someone who sat alone on the side.

I’m not usually the super-shy type, but I have to admit, I felt awkward and out of place. Like it was not my crowd, not my niche. The feeling was reinforced when folks started trying to remember happy birthday songs in Spanish, which they’d learned in their intro Spanish classes—exactly the reason I hated Spanish class in school. They meant well, but it was a very, shall we say, multicultural moment. (I should add that there was only one other Latino person there besides me. Everyone else was white or Asian Am.)

After a good while, the hostess very generously tried to bring me into the conversation. She introduced everyone in the room—turns out a lot of them didn’t actually know each other like I thought. Most of them were straight couples—and they introduced themselves along with their couple-ness. “I go with so-and-so.” They laughed at themselves for making those comments—even compared themselves to Ken and Barbie. “Ken goes with Barbie.” Yea, I thought to myself, definitely not my crowd. But maybe they were just reflecting each other’s awkwardness. Quien sabe.

Things got better once we started decorating cupcakes and folks started to move around a lot. I had a couple of really great conversations. And I was reminded that friendships sometimes have to be made, that they’re not always instantaneous. I don’t know if I’ll become good friends with anyone I met there. But I hope to see BG again soon. And maybe a couple of the others too. (As long as there’s no Ken-and-Barbie talk…or Spanish class song-singing. I’m just saying.)

*I did not make or decorate this cupcake. It was bakery-bought by the hosts.

7 Comments to “on making friends.”

  1. I’m having a spanish class flashback and I’m singing to myself….quantos anos tienes tu…quantos anos tienes tu. hmmm yeah. wow. what a waste of brain space.

    anyway. I always have to remind myself that making friends takes time. a lot of it, sometimes.

  2. Oh those multi-cultural moments, right up there with “I love Indian food”.

    Good luck with the friend making, you’re very right, they are made they rarely happen.

  3. I don’t get it–were people singing songs from their Spanish classes at the party as some kind of joke?

  4. pete: oh no, they were pretty serious. it was the “spanish” birthday song (mananitas) until the only other Latino there pointed out it was a Mexican song, not Spanish. and then we sung it for the cake part of the celebration. (actually *I* sung the first verse because turns out, I’m the only one who knew the words. I should have pretended not to…)

  5. you are so right. it can be especially hard when you are used to more ‘radical’* spaces. I really want to join a couples golfing league with Justin. But down here in the South the only couples leagues and tournaments specify only a man/woman paring. I don’t think I can be down with that. Maybe I’ll just join a woman’s league by myself. :(

    *I use this term loosely; and perhaps it should not be confused with ‘intellectual’

  6. What an interesting (and familiar) story! You are such a great storyteller that I could *feel* the awkwardness! I am having flashbacks to a few parties like this that I’ve been to. Given that you didn’t know anyone except the birthday girl, I am so impressed you went ~ I’d be too shy! Although, anywhere cupcakes are served, you can usually find me…..I say you and I have a meet-up, with other blogeras, too, when I fly down there in a few weeks!

  7. i totally here you. it is hard to make friends in a new place, and it is one of my (many) anxieties about moving to a place that is more white…

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