While out of town visiting friends, we went around the dinner table and shared our goals and hopes for the rest of the year. Foolishly, I took the exercise to heart. There was an awkward pause after I blurted, “I’d like to make a friend — just one friend!”
The others’ comments didn’t disclose anything, so mine really stuck out. How I wish I’d come up with something bland like, “Finally moving forward on our kitchen remodeling project. Yay for us!” Since I couldn’t retract my statement, my honest words just hung there eliciting lots of sympathetic aahs amid pats on the back. Blech. I’d been honest, and it was awkward, but even more, I realized just how much this desire for a friend was bugging me since I couldn’t stop my words from rolling out.
True, I’m a 50-year-old woman in a new city and my dog is my bestie. I adore her, but I need a human. I return often to Ruth Whippman’s New York Times article “Happiness Is Other People,” in which she writes, “[I]f there is one point on which virtually every piece of research into the nature and causes of human happiness agrees, it is this: our happiness depends on other people.” Dogs aren’t mentioned in this article. Sorry.
But after moving to Washington, D.C., nearly two years ago, things haven’t been easy. All around me I spy women schmoozing with one another, handling mugs of latte and glasses of wine. They are laughing and chattering, trading stories. They clearly don’t have bandwidth for one more person in their life. So where are you, friend? I’m tempted to wear a sandwich board around the city with “Help: Friend Needed Immediately!” painted in a catchy bold font because … um, am I invisible? Everyone is rushing around doing life, their social calendar maxed out. Seems I’m the only friendless person in the city, like that person awkwardly standing at the end of musical chairs without a chair. You may point out that I need to stop wearing black all the time and put on some makeup. Fair enough.
The biggest culprit is this weird midlife reality. Back in the day, as moms we used to meet up on the playgrounds with our kids. Sit tensely cheering at kids’ soccer games. Organize school fund-raisers. But the stuff of kids and school, what organically brought friends into my life, is over (cue up the tears). Now I’m working from home with my dog at my side. She’s a good friend. But I need human fellowship.
Interested? Before you throw your hat in the ring for consideration, review this list of traits my dog exhibits that best describe the perfect candidate for this position:
- No judgment: Love me for who I am. No judgy-judgy, thank you very much!
- Generous supply of forgiveness. No grudges, period.
- Affectionate presence, just when I need it. Sometimes hugs are needed, sometimes not.
- Patient listener. No interruptions, pa-lease.
- If you need something, just ask. My dog chirps or stares at me — but you do you.
- Loves my cooking. Full stop. Whatever I serve, you’ll praise it. That’s what friends do.
Finally, applicants must love dogs. That’s right, you better love dogs because I’m not getting rid of my four-legged friend just because I need a two-legged one. There’s room on the couch for the three of us, after all.
What do you think? C’mon, you know you want this. Applications welcome.