When you’re a little kid your best friend is probably a next-door neighbour or the child of one of your mother’s friends because, let’s face it, proximity determines who you play with. Then you go to school and you learn how to interact socially and the options of who you’re going to spend time with expand. Proximity still comes into play as families move and schools change.
Depending on how social you are, the friend curve arcs up as you move into your teens and become more mobile. And some friends stick with you as you move onto secondary education and on to work. New relationships foster. Others fall away.
At some point in adulthood, when you find a significant other, or work consumes you or if you have kids, the new-friend potential trajectory flattens and it becomes harder to stay connected with friends, let alone create new friendships. Ironically, proximity comes back into play; and you befriend the parents of your kids’ friends or the person whose office is next door, or the owner of the dog that plays with yours.
By friends, I don’t mean the people who like your social media posts. I mean the ones who might actually care to hear what’s really going on in your life, who get your references, enjoy doing what you like doing, who’ve shared some of your experiences.
I’m an “omnivert”. My extroverted self can host a talk show or stand up in front of hundreds or thousands of people on stage or walk the aisle of a busy trade show for hours on end. But my introverted self needs hours alone after doing all those things to recharge. And I find small talk really hard and opening up to people even harder.
So, a year ago, when I reached out to one of my oldest, but sadly, lapsed friends to go out and and those plans were expanded to include two other of my closest former friends, it wasn’t proximity driving the get-together. We went for dinner, and I was really happy for it: to the point that I stopped speculating on why we hadn’t remained close. I did wonder if they enjoyed the get-together as much as I did. Eventually we met again. And then made plans again. We recently went out yet again and all agreed before the night was over what we’d do the next time.
And it wasn’t all laughs and nostalgia. There was genuine interest in our current selves and a shorthand understanding of what was driving us; the same as if we were our younger selves. In many ways we hadn’t changed and I found it easier than I expected to connect with them. We don’t have the relationships we had when we were younger, but we still enjoy spending a little time together which carries the essence of our previous closeness. And for that I’m grateful.
I was going to segue into describing this issue by referring to Tonic as “your old friend”, but it seemed super-corny and melodramatic when I read it during the editing of this note. So dear friends and regular readers of this note, I think you get the essence of what I’m trying to say: familiarity breeds connect. Joel Thuna’s article and interview (July 10 on THE TONIC) about flatulence certainly isn’t “all gas”. Carlye Jansen’s article and interview (August on THE TONIC) about mindfulness and sex is worth contemplating, and you’ll eat up Naomi Bussin’s review and discussion (August on THE TONIC) of David Lebovitz’s ice cream cookbook “The Perfect Scoop”. As always, if you’re another one of my long lost friends who wants to join the group for dinner...or you want to discuss this note or anything else you’ve read in this issue of Tonic, please feel free to contact me.