Yesterday at brunch a friend mentioned that one of the biggest and toughest changes in friendship as we age has been the elimination of the “indefinite hangout.” Indefinite as in, we’ll hang until we’re done, without a specific time stamp because someone has to get home or to a workout class or to an appointment.
I’d never thought about it before, but she’s right. Spending time with a friend indefinitely, until you naturally go your separate ways, used to be the norm. When I was 23 and living in New York City, I might call Sara for brunch and when the meal was over, we’d see what was next. Maybe we’d each go home, or maybe we’d go to her house to hang, or maybe she’d say “Want to go look at shoes with me?” Whatever. Life was a little more open.
These days, though, that’s an incredible luxury. At a Sunday morning brunch, there’s almost always the next thing on your to-do list, and when you make brunch plans you might find yourself saying “11 sounds great, but I have to be home by 1:30 because…”
It’s not that two and a half hours isn’t enough for brunch. It is. You aren’t cutting your date short or fitting your friend into too tight a space. But the knowledge that there’s no set deadline on a get together is so freeing. It opens the meeting up to the question of “what’s next?” And some of the best times I’ve had with friends, and some of the best getting-to-know-you time with new friends, has taken place in those unplanned hours, after my playdate says “I have to stop off at this boutique on the corner to pick something up. Wanna come?”
It speaks to the difference between the BFF ideal I was looking for when I started this search, and the reality of best friendship today. The ideal was a BFF like I had when I was 16, when I would see someone all day during school and then talk for hours on the phone at night, and then do it all again the next day. The reality is that between family, job, and errands, I’m lucky to talk to someone once a week. In MWF Seeking BFF, I write “I’m looking for someone with whom it is assumed I will spend the day or at least an hour” on the weekend. I was looking for an indefinite hangout. It’s a pretty tall order these days, but at least, now, when it happens it is all the sweeter.
When was the last time you had an indefinite hangout? Was it just the best? Or did it stress you out because it had no end point?