I’ve done a pretty decent job this year of meeting new people. I don’t have a new BFF just yet, but I do have new friends. I’ve met them in all sorts of ways—improv class, online essays, wedding dress shopping, work, meet and greets—and I sloooowwwwlly feel like I’m establishing my own social network in my not-so-new-anymore city.
On Saturday night I went to a new pal’s birthday party. When I got there, she was telling some of the guests—including a few of the ladies who attended my getting-to-know-you pizza dinner—that she moved to Chicago five and a half years ago and didn’t know one person at the party before she got here. Every single guest was a relatively new friend. And it was a good-sized crowd.
It struck me as such an encouraging detail. In only five years, she’s set up an entire life for herself. When we talked about it the next day, she said she’d had a bit of a lightbulb moment when she realized her guest list was entirely new friends. It made her never want to leave. After all, five years seems quick once it has passed, but to start again would be daunting.
I’ve been in Chicago for three and a half years now. I didn’t do a big affair for my birthday, mostly because I turned 28 and that’s not a very interesting age, but also because I felt like so many of my new friends were in that more-than-an-acquaintance-but-not-a-full-fledged-friend stage. I wouldn’t want someone I barely knew to feel obligated to celebrate me, but I also wouldn’t want to leave anyone out.
I won’t be in my friend’s shoes in two years because I have family and college friends who I knew when I arrived here and who I very much plan on inviting to any 30th birthday festivities that might occur. But still, I love the idea that a good portion of the room could be filled with new additions.
When I first moved to Chicago, I was nervous about the whole new friends thing but excited for a change. I loved the anticipation of what my Chicago life might bring. Who would I meet? What would we do? Would anyone in the Midwest care for pop culture the way I do?
It’s fun to be in the process of answering those questions. And it’s satisfying to notice as each small step turns someone from a stranger to a friend. My new friend’s story makes me excited all over again to see what the next two years could bring.
Where do you see your friendships in two years? Have you ever had a friendship aha moment? Or a realization that your BFF search could be called off?