My Social Calendar Needs More Tea and Cake Dates
Recently, I had what felt like the friendship equivalent of a holiday fling.
6yo had a week of intensive swimming lessons. Parents had to wait in the car park outside, and I was fully prepared to be standing around for 45 minutes in the drizzle while all the other parents huddled in their cars with cups of coffee and unlimited data. But what happened was it was sunny and everybody sat outside and I clicked with a couple of the other mums. Properly clicked. Bantered. Roared with laughter. Looked forward to exchanging horror stories with them each day. It was wonderful.
But they lived in different neighbourhoods from me and they had full-time jobs and I presumed they led busy lives and so I assumed that they weren't in the market for a friendship with me.
It was a five day thing, I told myself, but we would always have the concrete benches.
I have had many short friendships in my life. I've had work friends who disappeared when one of us quit. I hung out with a rabble of retail slackers until they started moving off to hipper cities, one by one, never to be heard from again. I formed bonds in the baby days which broke at the end of the other mums' maternity leaves.
It used to make me feel bad about myself. If I was a more likeable person, I thought, they would have written me letters or kept on texting. But the truth is, some friendships have naturally short lifespans. Nowadays, we can tell ourselves we're still in touch by reacting to each other's social media updates, but the roles we played in each other's lives are done.
But every so often somebody comes along who sticks. There's a spark, a click, call it by whichever cliché you favour - it works. We form firm friendships and we hold on to them no matter the differences in our lives or how great the physical distances.
But the thing is... the distances are huge. They live in the Highlands or the Central Belt or somewhere in England and sometimes overseas. There are only a handful left in Aberdeen and we can go months between cake dates.
My calendar is sparsely populated; there is space in my life for more friends.
I am guilty of assuming that everybody else has fuller lives than me and sitcom-style squads of best mates. In particular, I expect all working parents to be too busy and too protective of their weekend family time to squeeze in a coffee with me. I tell myself nobody needs to add me to their life.
But somebody meeting me would likely make the same assumptions. And they would be (partly) wrong.
So, on the last day of 6yo's swimming lessons, I - very awkwardly - gave the other parents my phone number. Perhaps they would use it; perhaps they would bin it. It didn't matter - I liked them enough to try.