I met a friend for coffee the other day. It’s something we try to do on a regular basis, which, apparently, means once every eight months.
Our schedules have proven difficult to align, despite our living two miles apart, having kids at the same school, and working in similar creative fields. It takes half a year and two dozen texts to create 90 minutes of quality time at Starbucks, 15 of which are spent standing in line. This is the sum of our parts, a modern life defined by new math and the old habits we cannot help but cling to.
This is a pattern in my life when it comes to friendships, and I’m not sure how I got here. That is, I have great friends around the globe and corner, but I don’t spend nearly enough time with any of them. Granted, my own anxiety and the comforts of home tend to keep me in more than my younger self could ever have imagined, but I’m still social, awkwardly so, and often want for company.
Work is at least 60 hours per week, filled with meetings and deadlines, edits and interviews. My wife works even more, with her schedule scattered across both sides of the wee hours, the coming and the going. The boys have extracurricular activities, and when they don’t there is homework, friends and binging The Office again. Also, the daily reality that they no longer want to spend quality time with me, despite a good decade begging for my attention.
Finding the time, will for friendships
Everyone I know has something similar. We are all trying to juggle the commitments of work, family obligations and the things we want to do, plus assorted health concerns, financial considerations and the respective battles that each of us is fighting. All things considered, meeting for coffee once every eight months seems fairly reasonable.
So how is it, with a life busy between work, family, volunteering and six streaming services, do I still find myself with regular bouts of downtime? I do enjoy time by myself, but even I can have enough of me. I could fill that time by lifting some weights or picking up the phone, but I despise both of those things, regardless of the benefits they may carry.
In jukebox terms, I’ve spent 16 years whistling Cat’s in the Cradle, only to have Piano Man sneak up behind me.
The fact is, I’m often lonely, and I know I’m not alone. Plenty has been written about the importance of continued camaraderie and adult friendships as we age, and while I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have the relationships I do, I can’t help but wonder if we’d all be better served by putting a larger focus on them.
Perhaps that requires a bit more flexibility or accepting that there is a difference between inviting and imposing. Maybe instead of waiting for a moment, I just need to make one.
After all, it’s hard to expand your comfort zone if you never attempt to leave it.
We should grab a coffee sometime.