I feel like I am riding a whole wave of love from the universe at the moment, and I am trying to recognize it with all the gratitude in my heart without fearing the inevitable shifting tide that is always part of life. Exactly four years ago I had a week that felt a little like this—in fact, it was such a good week that it has lived in infamy in my memory as The Best Week Ever. There was travel, there were parties, new friends and very old friends, a stellar (literally) meteor show, even a new car. It was like winning a game show.
So what happened last week? Several things, but first and foremost, I went on two really good first dates.
I’ve never actually dated as an adult, but every time I talk about the struggle of making new friends I sound like a dating cliche. I’ve met lots of nice New York women in all the usual places—the farmers’ market, walking the dog, at food events and cocktail parties—but I have found it nearly impossible to take things to the next level. Information is exchanged, we friend each other on Facebook, but then what? Contacting someone you hardly know and proposing that you get together can seem so insurmountably daunting. Laid bare. Like you are admitting straight out—to the very person you want to impress—that the conversation you shared over wine/cookies/dog poop was the closest thing you’ve had to friendship all week. Nothing makes me feel more vulnerable. And yet….
I realized years ago that I deeply appreciate people who are able to communicate directly, so I’m striving to be the kind of person who will tell someone straight-out, “I really like you, and I still don’t have a very big community of friends here. Would you like to get together sometime?”
It sounds easy, but oh the fear of liking more than you’re liked, of loving more than you’re loved! It happens in all stages of friendship. I think most of us never quite get over the childhood fear that we are not our best friend’s best friend, or the more adult fear that loving someone platonically, and admitting it, really is okay. I heard something on a podcast recently (The Moth?) that really broke my heart: A man said that young men are drawn to war in part because it is the only place where men can love each other fully without the fear that they will be misunderstood. When your life is in another man’s hands and you are cocooned in all the machismo of an armored tank, then you can relax and love. Then you can let your guard down.
Women have it easy, comparatively. And yet.
This past week, however, I fought the good fight. I met honesty with honesty. Pizza was consumed. At one point I marched myself up to the door of a new neighbor who I hadn’t seen in two months, and I knocked. In less than five minutes we’d made plans to go to the beach, where we laid (almost) bare in more ways than one. Sunburns aside, it was a very, very good day.