It wasn't bad in elementary school. I was small and timid, but not so small or timid that I didn't speak up. Besides, we had different values then. At least when I was that age, children naturally came together to play. If you play with someone often enough, a bond develops.
It was okay in high school. There was a small group of people I could talk to easily. Most of them were nerds and outcasts like me (or at least, like the person I perceived myself to be). We had the same classes and some of the same interests. I didn't have a lot of friends, but I did have a few.
College had its own set of problems, but it came with its own set of solutions. I was assigned a roommate my freshman year, and he had friends, and they had friends, and somehow it turned out I had people to hang out with. Even though my freshman roommate didn't make it back for sophomore year, by then I knew people I'd know for the rest of college and beyond.
In all of the places I've lived since college, the only place I didn't have neighbors is the place where I live now. Most were apartments and duplexes, and in some of them I got to know some of the people around me. But I found myself more and more isolated.
Work saved me. Back in my retail days, I got to know some people who have stayed in my life, to some degree, even as they've moved across the country. These are people I call friends, even though I rarely see them. But I've been working at home, alone, for ten years now, and I have no coworkers whom I call my friend. If it weren't for family, I'd be alone even more of the time.
As I've said many times before (I think), I'm an awfully difficult person to be friends with. I'm only slightly less timid than I was in first grade, but a lot more aware of my own limitations. I realize that I'm awkward in social situations and ill at ease around people I don't know well. I tend to shy away from circumstances where I might be forced to interact and thus, inevitably, look foolish. It's hard to be my friend.
And I hate making phone calls, as you know.
Ah, but along came the Internet. And along came bunt sign, and the many online friends I've made. And today, into my life came another member of the journaling community, the writer of the wonderfully uplifting and hopeful and positive and free-thinking journal Piece of Mind (in other words, everything this journal aspires to be and rarely achieves).
We've been corresponding ever since Denver doug somehow divined, in his mystically inspired wisdom, that we were almost neighbors. We both came to the same conclusion, that we could be friends, but it was she who decided that now was the time. We met for coffee this morning and hit it off right away. She's just as warm and open as you'd expect from reading her journal (and she complimented my haircut, always a plus in my book).
We talked about families, and work, and music and politics. You know, the things you talk with friends about. We talked for over two hours and arranged to meet for coffee again. It's been so long since I've had a new in-person friend that I'm not sure how to do it right. Plus, I think I'm gushing a little. You're probably starting to feel either a little jealous or a little nauseous.
Let's get this straight. You should be jealous. (Of me, of course. She has the hard part, trying to be my friend against all odds. It's not an easy job, but I'm going to try to help as much as I can.)