Last night in midtown, I sat outside in a flowered cotton summer dress, my hair blowing in the blissful breeze between buildings, captivated by what was in front of me. Over margaritas and burgers, I looked around my table of ten friends laughing and boozing, enjoying the company of the person to their left and their right.
I had met this endearing group in all different ways: K volunteers with me at Ed2010.com but we met at an event for Proactiv. M and I went to college together, though were never good friends until she moved into my old apartment, chasing her dream as I once did. Mr. Hitch and I met because of a feature I wrote on him and because he’s quite charming (as his job requires him to be). K and C, I met through Young Authors Club in Chelsea. A is my new roommate and friend, courtesy of the randomly-helpful Craigslist. K and I met through my co-worker J. And L through MeetUp.
Collectively, the list of our meet-cutes is vast. But all of these women and one man have become part of my life, part of my happiness in the city. And as I watched them get along and enjoy the afternoon, gradually becoming pals and ultimately trading numbers at the end of the night, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, New York had finally become what I wanted it to be.
Someone once told me that the friends you make out of college are the family you create for yourself. These people have no obligation to be welcoming to you – you’re not in class together, you’re not in the same sorority, you don’t have mothers who have been best friend for years and years. No, these individuals are people you decide to be friends with, those you purposefully seek out as your companions.
I never imagined when I moved that it would be difficult to make friends. I’m naturally an out-going, bubbly, magnetic person who tends to easily attract like-minded people. I didn’t have trouble transitioning from middle school to high school or from high school to college – I quickly developed new friendships, many of which I still have today. But New York was a different playing field. As I described in an earlier post, there are so many she-fishes in New York’s sea, but for a while, it didn’t seem like any of them were the friends for me.
Much like dating, the way to meet girls who could be your girlfriends is to put yourself out there. I tried joining groups and becoming an active participant in organizations that mattered to me, banking that shared interests would equate to the ability to easily get along and click. Luckily for me, I was right. Within a year or so, I became a leader of two things I cared about and worked up enough gumption to tackle the creepiness that’s sometimes associated with Meetup. (Though after using it, I think it’s a fabulous idea.)
Slowly but surely, I found my footing and more importantly, I found my girlies.
It’s only been until recently – maybe even in that exact Louie Armstrong moment – that I realized that the pieces of New York are starting to fall together. That all I wanted the city to be, apart from jump-starting my career and giving me a coffee shop on every block, it’s starting to be. I actually have a life here, I’m not just a newbie, I’m a girl with actual friends, actual things to do, actual comings-and-goings that people depend on me for.
Love may make the world go ‘round, but too often we confuse love for candlelight and engagement rings, kisses on doorsteps and steamy sex. Some of the best, strongest and most enduring love there is has nothing to do with falling in or making it. Rather, it has everything to do with bonding with a person who at first is just a stranger, but within a few hours of chatting, becomes a friend.
And without those friends, nothing else would work: not our relationships, not our careers, not our minds – because it’s the family we make for ourselves that make us…happy. That make us feel like a city we weren’t born in is home.
New York is a tangled web of buildings and noise, writing is something I’ll do until the day I die, and many men may capture my heart for periods of time, but my friends? They’re the ones who make me feel alive.