Friday, July 15, 2011

Can You Find a New Old Friend?

Ross and I were sitting in the local diner a few weeks ago.  It was an odd hour, too late for lunch too early for even the early bird special.   For that reason the diner was also pretty empty.

There was another couple sitting in fairly close proximity to us. They seemed to be having a rather emotional conversation.

They appeared to be around the same age as Ross and I.

Every once in a while I would catch the woman looking at me with a tentative smile.   Finally I smiled back at her.  The next thing I knew we were having a conversation.

She asked me if we were from the area.  I told her that we were not originally from the area, but that we have been living here for about 9 years.  She told me that she and her husband had moved into the area only a couple of years ago.   Then she began to cry.   She told us she has been so lonely since moving here.

Even though they moved into an adult community with all sorts of activities to encourage meeting new people, she missed her old friends.

I asked her about family.  She told me that her children and grandchildren were still living in the northern part of the state, which was about two hours away.  She and her husband thought that by moving down to the Jersey shore, the kids would surely be there all of the time, especially in the summer.  But they didn't come.

I have heard that same story from a number of people who have migrated to the many adult communities around the Jersey shore.  

One couple in particular, actually our next door neighbor, bought the largest model house with over 3000 square feet, complete with sun room,  full basement, two car garage, and attic storage.
They needed the room for when the kids came to visit.  

But, the kids just never seemed to have the time or apparently the inclination to make the trip.  Therefore, most of that 3000 square feet sat empty.  

About two years after they moved in, our next door neighbors sold their house and moved to Florida.    That was what they really wanted to do all along. She had a brother who lived there and he had two sisters who had also moved to Florida.  But their initial decision to move into this community instead of Florida was based on the hope that their children would always be around visiting frequently.

After they found out that their kids were busy with their own lives and had really fled the nest, they decided it was time for them to live out the rest of their lives the way they wanted to.

Some people are naturals at making new friends, no matter what the circumstance.  I felt badly for the woman in the diner.  She apparently was one of those people who did not find it easy to fit right in.

As I thought about it, I began to realize that as one gets older, it is more difficult to begin a new relationship.   The bottom line is, as people age, they don't have the  luxury of time.  It takes time to build a friendship.  At this stage and age can a new friendship compare to life long friendships?  

Then I wondered if a service was available for people who want to find companionship with others with  similar backgrounds and interests.    Something like a "dating" service but for people who just want to find a friend.  

You know someone like your friend Mary, who always had time for that chat over a cup of coffee.    A shopping buddy, like your friend Jackie who loved the mall as much as you did.   Or Sue, who was there for you when you were going through the most difficult time of your life.

Perhaps the woman in the diner would not have been so sad and lonely and she and her husband would not have had to move back to the old neighborhood if such a service existed.


  1. As we grow old, we make new acquaintances rather  than new friends. Rarely do we form new friendships.. so, I have made it a point to treasure the friendships I have, to make the extra effort to keep in touch.. 

    your post is a thought-provoking one.. in this age of social networking, its easier to find like-minded people in your locality, I feel. this where a hobby helps you in finding a new identity for yourself.. to discover like-minded individuals around you. 

  2. A very thought-provoking post. I am only 35 and I do not have many friends, not because I cannot make friends easily, but because I tend to prefer to spend my free time alone. I am sure this is something that will come back to bite me in the end.

  3. I agree with you.  You found the word I was looking for, acquaintances.  
    People who you say hi to while walking the dog, or the women on your bowling team; who when bowling is over for that day, say "okay see you next week".
    Perhaps, though, there is such a thing as "friend at first sight", no matter what stage of life you are in . 

  4. I grew up with  three sisters and two brothers. One of my father's favorite expressions was "blood is thicker than water" and only trust La Famiglia.   I suppose  his Italian heritage was the basis for that philosophy. 
    So, my sisters and brothers were my friends.   My father died over twenty years ago.  My mother kind of kept the family together.  However after she died, we kind of drifted apart.  
    One of the biggest regrets that I have in my life is that I did not develop deep friendships.   
    I have to say, Cris, go with your instincts.   Take the time to cultivate some meaningful friendships.   At some point during your life,  there most likely will be a time that you will need a friend.   

  5. My Little Home and GardenJuly 17, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Although I haven't participated, I think a "service" you may be thinking of is It isn't for dating, it seems be groups of people in local geographical areas who want to get together to do things. Groups seemed based around interests, similar ages, might be mixed or might be just for women. Just a thought...

  6. What a thoughtful post. It does take time to make, build and keep friendships and as you say as we get older we don't have that much time. My husband and I have been talking about moving out of California,  maybe to Oregon or Washington. He doesn't really have "guy" friends but I have lots of women that I associate with and a few good friends and of course my knitting group. I wonder how I would handle making new friends. I'm pretty outgoing (unlike my husband who is not) and hope I could make new acquaintances and friends in a new area. It's a shame when people move to an area where they hope their kids will visit and then they don't. I hope the couple who moved to FL will be happy there

  7. "Then I wondered if a service was available for people who want to find companionship with others with  similar backgrounds and interests.    Something like a "dating" service but for people who just want to find a friend." 

    I'm 26 but I would love a "lady date" service like this. Craigslist has a personals section where it does list "platonic meetings" and some people I know have tried it with great success but I'm a little wary of it. 

    I've moved out of NJ to TN and I'm clueless about meeting a nice person my age. The LYS has a knit night with some very nice ladies attending but they're all twice my age. I was always clueless how to make friends outside of how does one do it?

  8. Oh my gosh, I can relate to that woman who is missing her friends.  There IS a friend service in a nearby town, but I haven't gained the courage to try it.  

  9. I can empathize, we have moved about five times in the last 15 years.  Now when we move, I seek out other knitters, or look for people wanting to learn to knit.  That has been the starting point of a few friendships.  And just like dating days, church was a nice way to find people with similar interests.