How to Make Friends

I’m not very good at making friends. As an adult, I find it incredibly awkward and a bit embarrassing. Yes, I’ve met fun people and spent time with them, had dinner and drinks, hung out at concerts…but there seems to be something missing. A lack of connection, that invisible bond. The kind you can only make when you’re little.

The few I consider my true friends are ones I don’t even remember meeting. There’s G, my oldest family friend–we’ve known each other since birth. And B, who was my closest friend since the age of two–we grew up two doors down from one another. Then there’s M, my bestie from high school and college, those oh-so-formative years. With all of them, huge chunks of time may pass with little to no communication, and we’ll pick up exactly where we left off, with complete ease and comfortability. These people know me inside and out; they are a part of my life and accept me for exactly who I am, without judgment.

In my adult life, I’ve had numerous groups of friends, but we often outgrow each other. They cycle through, and the next group comes along. And I wouldn’t call any of them my closest friends–we don’t have all that much in common. They’re not the first people who come to mind when I’ve got important news to share. And if we were never to talk again, I think I’d be okay. I crave the connection of a best friend, yet it simply isn’t there…and I don’t know how to cultivate it. Maybe it involves more trust. Or more effort. How do you care deeply about someone without all that history between you? The answer eludes me.

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The Perseids

There’s something magical about staring at the stars that makes you realize your own infinity. Or your own minuscule existence. I haven’t quite figured out which yet. I just spent the last hour huddled in my grey sweatshirt, hood pulled tight, gazing up at the stars and pleading — hoping — for some kind of sign from the universe. A beacon, an idea, a tiny arrow pointing me in the right direction. I was concentrating so hard on listening for some imaginary whisper that I forgot to look; all around me, shooting stars were streaking across the night sky.

Tonight is the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, an event that has been a long-held tradition in my family. The text I received from my dad earlier this evening stated simply, “Perseids!” No other explanation needed. I grabbed the necessary gear (lawn chair, pillow, blanket) and headed for the mountains, away from city lights.

It’s easy to imagine the tranquility of a typical star-gazing scenario…but when surrounded by wilderness and darkness and vast cosmos, the otherwise peaceful experience transforms and becomes a bit lonely. And more than a little scary. The most mundane sounds suddenly become bears, rattlesnakes, serial murderers targeting me in my lone position on the desolate mountain road. Every car that passes by sends me into a near-panic.

Yet between the mild neuroses, I’m still able to lose myself in the absolute beauty of it all. These majestic meteors, streaking across the night sky. The gentle sounds of insects, the warm breeze on my face. I find a certain peace.

As I’m getting ready to call it a night, I give a final plea for one little shred of a clue, one single show of spectacularity, to prove that my haphazard life is somehow on the right path. I don’t need to wait long, only a few seconds…and there it is. Two blazing stars, in brilliant succession, leaving trails of hope and encouragement in their wake. I place my hands on my heart, tears quietly making their escape, and offer up my gratitude.