You know it's the holidays when everyone starts talking about money.
Bossy is hosting a Poverty Party on her blog, where she shares all about her family's current debt and encourages readers to do the same. I'm not quite there yet but have been fascinated to read the comments and click on some of the links to see what others are up to.
The Domestic Goddess is joining her, at least for the day. DG usually writes on other things, but all are close to home.
Anjali at SheStartedIt (great blog name, yes?) had the same thoughts this weekend when she opened her credit card bills and saw they were actually lower.
All three women live or lived in my neighborhood. I feel fortunate to have met them in real life and even more so to continue to know them on their blogs.
A continuing theme in my adult life is my frustration with making friends. I enjoy the company of women but since hitting adulthood have sometimes felt as though it is hard to make or maintain friendships. There were several women whose company I enjoyed at my first admissions job, and I still think fondly of them, but almost none are people I'm still in touch with. After I moved away to my second job, I felt pretty sophisticated at age 25, thinking that I understood now about work friendships versus "real" friendships, reflecting on the lack of continued contact with people I'd really enjoyed and who had reached out to me in a variety of ways--a very kind group phone call cheering me on at the end of my first day at the new place; offering to host me when I traveled in their town--but then contact faded.
But staying in one place for 11 years blended it for me and changed my mind again, at least a little. While I was wary of making friends in that office based on some ugly, overly personal scenes (roommates tattling on each other to the boss about who did what instead of working, for one egregious example) and worked hard to be friendly but keep things light, eventually I realized that lots of these people were fun, around my age, and doing cool stuff. So I started hanging out with them, going to Big Head Todd and the Monsters concerts (remember them?!) or football games together. And when some of them started moving on to other jobs, I stayed in their rolodexes and email lists.
Many of them moved on when they started their families. Eventually I started mine as well, and as I transitioned to staying at home, all around me, I saw groups of moms who appeared to be friends, people who could pop in on each other, hand off their stinky babies while gathering supplies, all the things I thought would be the currency of new parenthood. And I started looking for women who could be that circle for me.
And I did find them--I've met some great women everywhere from the library to the playground to the mom-groups to the support organizations I've joined. They've brought me meals and vice versa in good times and in crisis. We've watched each other's kids and traded toys and clothes. But I rarely felt like a soulmate with these women.
At one point, pouring my heart out to my oldest best friend about this, she reminded me that what is needed most to create friendships is time. And at this point of our lives, while having babies and maintaining careers, choosing schools for kids sending us in different directions, time is a luxury few of us enjoy. We can snatch it here and there but it is hard to be able to put in the time. And at the same time, a friend in her 50s reminded me that we would someday have more time--kids in school and more independent activities, careers at a more predictable point--and we'd be able to look back on these times and realize what we'd built.
That's a lifeline of sorts for me. I don't want to rush through these years but hope that there is a point where I can look back and see that the snippets of chatter on the sidelines of the soccer field, or edge of the pool, or aisle of the supermarket, have led to mutual memories.
And in the meantime, I've grown to rely on Facebook and blogs in a way I never expected to. I was lucky enough to go to a college that was one of the first to be on the budding internet. (How old am I? I'm so old, two of my friends' emails were Steve@place and Scott@place. No, really. Pre-.edu and everything.) But you know what? I didn't get it. One of those friends was trying to explain the idea of email to me and I remember wrinkling my face, trying to understand the attraction. "Why wouldn't you just pick up the phone?" I asked. My true geek friends were lost on how to explain it if the appeal wasn't immediately obvious. In my own defense, these were the days just before the Macintosh, when personal computers were still less than terrifically helpful for people without a love of or need for programming.
But now, when my best chances for socializing are when the boys are in bed for either naps or overnight, it's hard to just hop on the phone at a decent hour. And the computer is a lifeline.
So one of the things I'll be doing this month is giving a mini-tour of my blog links. Several of you (my 10 readers) have asked what my connections are with one or another. So I'll be grouping them in a few posts by way of introduction, expanding my bloggy circle. And as a way to say thanks for letting me in to your lives.