(original post-date: April 27, 2011)
I cannot imagine leaving Los Angeles.
And not because I love it, which I do.
It’s just that, the older you get, the more difficult it is to make friends.
Remember how easy it was back in childhood? All you needed was a common age, and the deal was sealed.
Are you six? Me too! Let’s go play!
Can you imagine doing that at an adult age?
Hi! Are you fifty-three? Me too! Let’s have lunch!
Ain’t gonna happen.
When my then-husband and I moved to L.A., back in May 1990, it never occurred to me that I was leaving behind some well-established friendships and that I would have to start all over again. Sure, I had a few people out here who I knew, and among them were two I knew quite well, but… that’s barely a starter set.
Looking back at several of my early L.A. friends – people I thought I’d be close to for a long time – I realize that I was going through a process, and I would have to get to the end of that process before I would find the folks who were likely to last.
I remember a co-worker at my first staff job out here. We’ll call her Sheila. I’d been at the nonprofit organization for about a year before she got a position there. Our then-friendship is such ancient history at this point that I cannot explain the “attraction,” but I do remember always feeling as if she and I were both Hayley Mills, playing some equally misbehaving girls in a prep school movie…
I grew out of Sheila before I left the place where we both worked, and a few years later, I was at another nonprofit.
There, I became friends with two women, both of whom were a bit younger than I. We’ll call them Dee and Dora. I bonded with both of them, and we genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. Again, I felt I had embarked on some friendships that would last. But they didn’t pan out as I had expected, and in retrospect, my memory of the times I spent with each or both of them centered around a certain amount of righteousness. A desire to be correct.
With Sheila, I was reliving my adolescence.
With Dee and Dora, I was reliving my twenties.
I was 32 when I arrived in Los Angeles, and I was too new to that decade to know what it meant.
Where friendships were concerned, I had to back up.
I had to start over.
I had to relive a few stages of interactive behavior before I would find the comfort of my present. I had to work through a new growth so that I could reach the moment when I began to know who I was and how I needed to be treated.
That moment began in my mid-40s.
In terms of friendships, I’ve been in the comfort zone ever since.