As a kid, I found it so easy to make friends. It didn’t matter if the kids who lived next door were a few years older or younger, proximity made you friends. I had a new best friend in my class every year. Our family backgrounds did not make any difference.
But now things are so different. Some of my friends are at university, some are getting married, some are working full time. We are all over the place and are in touch through email and text more than in person visits. I really miss that here. I have classmates, but we don’t socialize during class or we would not hear the lectures. There are study groups but we really do usually study. The workload here can be a lot and does it help to talk it out with classmates. I have asked others about themselves and most people are so busy with classes, jobs, and relationships they do not even have time for more friends.
I understand, I am busy too, but I do wish that I had friends to go to a movie with every once in awhile. Or coffee. Anything social would be fine, really. I don’t live in the dorms with the undergrads, I am on a special floor with other exchange students. This is supposed to foster community but I am the only one here from Beirut and the others mostly speak their home language together.
That means the two things I relied on as a child to make friends, proximity and school, no longer apply. These old standbys don’t work anymore. There is an elementary school near here that has what is called a buddy bench on the playground. You sit there when you are lonely and it lets other people know you are looking for a friend. I wish grownups had that too. It would make life more interesting, wouldn’t it? I told someone about this idea in my sociology class and she said, of course, grownups have a buddy bench. It’s just known as last call at the bar. I laughed along with her but it was not quite what I meant.
But I do think there are more people out there like me, and I am going to find them! Maybe my buddy bench isn’t really a bench. Maybe my buddy bench is actually the internet. This blog, for example, and other sites, too. Maybe this is the kind of place that only the lonely will find each other.