There is an Eric Carle book entitled, Do You Want to Be My Friend? It’s about a young mouse who meets different animals along his morning walk and asks each of them to be his friend. They all say no, until he meets another mouse in the end and they begin a grand adventure together. All the animals have an excuse for why they can’t be friends with a mouse. There are no words in the book. But you can read it with a child, and even at the age of three, he can tell you exactly what’s happening in the story. And that’s how it’s meant to work. A story without words, that tells so much.
As an adult, we don’t go from one animal, or one person to the next, asking them to be our friend. We work with people and we befriend them. Or we attend events and meet other like minded individuals that are interested in the same things we are and befriend them. Sometimes we go out to a bar or attend a party and meet others through rose coloured glasses after a few drinks and befriend our friend’s friends. There are many ways to meet people and become friends, but we never walk up to someone and ask them to be our friend. Rejection in adulthood is much more difficult to swallow that it was in childhood.
When I was a little girl, about the age of five, I moved with my family from a trailer park in the city to a nice, quiet neighbourhood in the country. Here, my family worked to build our house from the ground up, surrounded by trees rather than pavement. Settling into our new home with only a couple weeks left of the school year, my mother enrolled me in Kindergarten so that I could make some friends and look forward to returning to school after the summer holiday.
Althought it was just a brief time, I still recall being in school and my new Kindergarten teacher. Her name was Mrs. Duby and she was very pregnant. She used to give us stickers for massaging her shoulders at the end of a long day. No way a teacher could get away with that nowadays. Her husband was our gym teacher. Everyone liked the Duby’s. I liked stickers. Needless to say, I was already working on perfecting my massage skills at the age of five, I had a solid sticker collection.
The other thing I remember about Kindergarten at my new school, was playtime. I was a very outgoing child. I had spent some of my time in Kindergartern at my previous school standing up to the ‘big kids’ when they ridiculed me for coming out in clothes from the ‘dress up area’ during a fire alarm. I was a drama queen even back then. I just didn’t care what anyone else thought of me, I wanted to have a good time. I would laugh at myself later in highschool, when the same event would repeat itself, this time a fire drill occuring while getting ready for a scene in drama class, that was at a new school too.
Perhaps moving as a child and during adolescence was to help prepare me as an adult when seeking out friendships in the new coutries I found myself moving to for international teaching jobs. Perhaps not. It’s much easier as a five year old to walk up to someone on the playground and introduce myself by saying, “Hi, my name is Kara, want to be my friend?” And not feeling hurt one bit by the three that say no before finding the one that says yes and heading off to the swing set, hand in hand, ready to pump our legs to the sky, giggling all the way.
Over the summer holidays, Ali and I went to a concert in the park. We met some of his work mates and his work mates also brought along some of their friends. After kicking our heels up to the tunes in the park, the party moved on to our favourite neighbourhood, Shoreditch. Our first stop was at one of our favourite haunts, The Foundry. Seated around a couple of small tables outside, we all sat around chatting and sipping on red wine. The woman I was speaking to was someone I had just met that evening. The talk went from politics to family and at times was quite passionate, which isn’t too difficult for me when I am discussing something I feel strongly about. Just ask Darryl.
When The Foundry closed up, we all walked on to another bar, where we met more friends and the group dynamics changed. The evening continued into the early hours and eventually Ali and I planned our exit. I decided to ask for the gal’s phone number whom I had been speaking to at the previous bar since we had had such a great chat and I was new in town, looking for some gals to hangout with. Suddenly, I was transferred back in time as I sat across from this girl and she hesitated before giving out her number. After much hemming and hawing on her part as I sat observing her unsureness of whether to give me her number, she finally did give it to me. It was clear she didn’t want me to use it. I felt like I was five again asking someone to be my friend and this time she said no. Of course it wasn’t quite so dramatic, as it was just a phone number and I wasn’t investing too much into it, just thought we could go get a cup of coffee sometime. Ri-ight. After such a standoffish response, I decided, of course, never to call her. I was curious, of course, as to why she had been so hesitant in sharing her number. Had I said something to offend her? Was it the talk about politics or the personal family story exchanges? Who knows. And quite frankly, who cares.
Except I did, a little. It’s a tough world in a big city finding someone you click with. Those of you that have ever moved somewhere where you don’t know anyone, will know it takes some time to get settled in and find people you actually enjoy being around, and are not so for the sake of convenience. I am still looking for those people. Of course, I have my husband and I have his friends. And these are wonderful things. But I am also interested in finding some good ole fashioned gals to get together with. Go shopping with. Gossip with. Get my hair done with. And why wouldn’t I? Everyone loves a good girlfriend. And I do have them. They are just spread out all over the world at the moment. So, I suppose, that will have to do for now.