I never paid attention to people when they would talk about how college was the best time of their lives and how easy everything was. While I was living it, I was highly skeptical of this “best time”, and towards the end, I couldn’t wait to be let loose and get into the “real world”. Well, what no one tells you is that the “real world” can be pretty hard and have a glaring downside at times. Friends who were living down the hall, or at worst, the next building over in college, are now scattered around the world in varying stages of life. People are having babies and getting married, others are pursing doctorate degrees or making amazing changes around the world by traveling with a cause they believe in. I fully support each and every one in their journey from the comfort of my couch and laptop, but I can’t help but feel selfish in wondering, what about me? It’s true that I have amazing things going on in my world too, but I miss the built in camaraderie of college and knowing that at any moment, someone was awake and ready to hang out. Moving to Keene has honestly been a form of social suicide. It seems that if you aren’t directly near 93, the artery of NH as I like to think of it, you might as well live in a different state. The concept of an hour drive from the capital in a westerly direction is unfortunately only thought of once a year… the great Pumpkin Festival. I promise, these small towns out here exist outside of the month of October.
I am not naïve in my thinking; I know that those “friends forever” will not always be such 99% of the time, which leads me to my newest adventure… making friends in your mid-twenties. I’m not talking work friends, who are forced to hang out with you for eight hours a day while you pass a bottle of aspirin around the cubicle. I’m talking people who you make an active effort to see and not just text or tweet at. It seems like such an easy concept, but putting it into practice is harder than it looks. Since there isn’t a match.com for meeting your new quarter life bestie, the best way to find them is by putting yourself out there. And out there, I am.
When we first learned that we’d definitely be living in Keene, I immediately raced to my trusted advisor, Google. Google let me know that there were others like me, really close to where I was living! No hour drives to have a once a month dinner here! Google introduced me to this neat, and slightly sketchy, website Meetup where I instantly signed up for everything possible, as I have then tendency to do when I’m excited. After getting slaughtered with welcoming emails from total strangers, I revised my privacy settings and become more selective in my group selections. I found a group that seemed to be speaking my language- “Ladies Drinking Club with a Reading Problem”- a book club that met at local bars! Hallelujah, I signed up immediately. I stalked all of the ladies who had RSVP’d and deemed their photos to be non-threatening and two weeks later, I was walking into a restaurant, Pedraza’s, located on Main Street, to meet a group of women from the internet. I’ll let you stew in your concern about the danger of that whole situation, but at the time, like most of my ventures, it seemed like a good idea. You know what? This time it worked out wonderfully.
I’ve since had two book club meetings; the most recent was last night at Fireworks, also on Main Street. The ages of the group range from early twenties to early fifties, but surprisingly there is no awkwardness, only laughter. There is no pretending to be something you’re not, you’re just a couple of loud women, drinking beer, and talking about a book. We’re not at the level of hanging out apart from our meetings yet, but a few of us are now Facebook friends, and as anyone knows, that’s how you know it’s official. I miss my friends from college more than I can say, but these new friends and people I’m getting to know better each day are helping to ease the ache. I’ve been reading articles that friends have been sharing about the life lessons you learn in your twenties, and the change in friend circles is a huge talking point. I can confidently say that this lesson is becoming one of my favorites as I slowly figure it all out while making new friends, but keeping the old.