I rushed into my husbands’ arms when he came home from work, planted a kiss, and announced, “Honey! I picked up a woman at the zoo today!” Now, I know what you are thinking, but please don’t judge me, it was a moment of desperation. You see, we had moved to a new state a couple of months before, neither of us knowing a soul. We enjoyed exploring on the weekends together, but during the week, while he went to work, and engaged with other adults, I was keeping company with our 4 year old, 2 year old and 3 month old. The most sophisticated conversations I had in a typical day contained words like boo boo and sippy cup. As you might imagine by the time my husband walked through that door in the evening, I tackled him with pent up conversation, plans to go out, or threw the screaming, kids at him, and hid. I knew that these were not the greatest receptions from long days of work. I also knew what I needed. Girlfriends.
It had been much easier to make friends in school, at work, or in playgroup, but as an adult with none of the outlets listed available, I found myself at a loss. That day I had been at the Zoo with aforementioned children, and noticed a woman at the Terrapin tank. She was pretty, and fashionably dressed, but what attracted me to her, were the two children by her side. They looked to be similar ages to my two oldest, so I made my move. I walked away from my children, and sidled up the Terrapin tank (not unlike a bar, sans hair flip), then called them over. “Look, it’s a Diamondback turtle!” I exclaimed, sounding a bit too loud and excited, but sure enough, my children rushed over, and the other kids looked up at me. Their mother now noticed me too. I took my opportunity, and struck up conversation. It turned out we only lived a few streets apart, and as our kids began to chatter about the turtles, we exchanged numbers to set up a play date. I was elated! I had a friend!
Years later, I have friends here whom I cherish, and feel like I’ve always known, but I think back to how I got to this point, and remember that void . The process seemed not terribly unlike dating, Searching out another soul looking to connect. Wanting, no, hoping, to be attractive, and interesting enough for them to want to see you again. There have been good play dates and bad. Women along the way who were charming, but turned out to be just like those charismatic bad boys who had once seemed so alluring. Hurtful, and untrue. There were women who I met already with a close-knit group, not looking to add friends to their lives. There were also pleasant surprises, finding the most genuine, funny and caring friend I could wish for in someone who had flown under my radar. I joined all the playgroups, book clubs, and parent teacher groups I could, and through it all friends with common interests filtered through and filled my life in a way that only good girlfriends can. Now if my husband is pounced on when he gets home from a long day at work, it is more likely a joyous child, than a disgruntled wife. A more welcome reception indeed .