Who really are our friends? When I was young, my father told me I should exchange names and phone numbers with people I liked and that way to cultivate friendships beyond the limits of my neighborhood. I frequently took the first step in doing that with new acquaintances until that busy time in life when everyone is juggling jobs, family and a household, that habit slipped into disuse. Between having many relatives and trying to hold together assorted friendships I was no longer looking for new friends.
Perhaps I was slowly surprised as the family thinned out with the elder generation passing on and the younger generation growing up, I was now at a point in life where an occasional friend also died. Moving around the country disconnected me with many people.
It always seemed a little sad to me that there were so many friendly folks at all the stops along the way as I went about my days, but none were my friends. There were the church people, the co-workers, neighbors, the Zumba people, the water exercise people, and on and on. The only place I ever saw any of them was where I met them. Trying to understand why just offering my phone and e-mail to potential friends, did not activate anyone to branch out from her own hyperactive life to come out of the periphery of my life into a closer circle of friendship.
A couple of years ago I swapped Zumba for water exercise since it has less impact on my knees. I kept in touch with the instructor, Glenda, whom I have known since we both first started Zumba about eight years earlier, on Face Book, and Bernadette, whom we also met at Estabrook Recreation Center Zumba class, I would see once in a great while at an evening Mass at St. Charles Church in Parma.
It was a pleasant surprise when I got an e-mail from Bernadette saying that Glenda suggested that the three of us meet for dinner one evening. After a lively exchange of e-mails we finally agreed on time, date and place. The dinner we ate in a small family style restaurant was quickly consumed as we caught up on each other’s news and agreed we would all enjoy repeating the experience. As the three of us continue our different lives, we can stay connected and develop friendship as we go.