punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,
punkwalrus
punkwalrus

On friends

Old Prune Bran Alumni badmagic has a post about How do normal people make friends? which has spurned some debate. I suggest you take a look. But then I asked, "How did I make friends?"

In clusters.

As a kid, I had a few friends which thinned out for a while. At first, I hung around a group of mostly girls, like Denise, Allison, shuttergal, Meredith, and Jennifer. Then when girls thought boys were icky, I hung around Mike, Jean, Andy, Kyle, and FJ. I had one "best friend," who was Neal, but he moved away in 6th grade.

In the early, early years, my poor mother couldn't understand why I wasn't the popular kid. She was the popular kid in her school. Not the "snobby Heathers" popular, but like everyone got along with her, she was in so many school photos, had lots of friends, and so on. She would invite all the kids from my class to various parties, I guess in hopes to make me popular, but that didn't work out as well as she hoped. Even in high school, she worried that most of my friends were girls, and I *know* there was some bedroom talk between my mom and dad whether I was gay. Theater? Hangs around girls? Doesn't play sports? Loves musicals? Yeah, I had all the signs. Sadly, though, I got the hots for girls and considered men "hairy and icky." Personally, I don't know how you girls stand them. But I digress. My mother had kind of resigned that she had a gay son, I think, who had no sex life I was willing to talk about.

In junior high, I hung out with two neighbors, John and Jennifer (brother and sister), but I must have been a disturbing kid because they dropped contact with me pretty much as a teenager, and to this day, attempts to stir up some mature friendship bonding has resulted in a cold shoulder at best. I hung out with some community theater folks, gaming nerds (like stevonwolf, Fred, and Nicole), but apart from a few moments of hanging out, not much friendship actually occured. Junior high was pretty depressing, and I think the lowest point in my entire life. At least Neal kept me sane, all the way from El Paso, via cassette tape letters back and forth.

In high school, I got some badly-needed therapy, and first struck up some friends in the goth/punk community, before abuptly leaving that for a "peer-managed" group of misfits (yes, the county assigned me friends based on the fact that loners scared them). But I was in theater, and some of those people were in the sci-fi club. In my sophomore year, I started to make *real* friends, the first since Neal, and I am friends with most of them to this day. While I had different sets of friends, the best were Kate, Jason, Mark, wombat1138, and eeedge, who were a core gaming group as well as people I could just hang out with.

But as badmagic postulated, how does one move to a new area and make friends? I did that when I graduated high school. I was alone, and needed a place to live. That's when FanTek became like a surrogate family. Bruce, Cheryl, Liska, sasqatch, Debbie, and a variety of Daves. Then I got married, but stayed in fandom, where I met friend after friend. I can't tell you how many I have now, but my LJ list is not just a collection of random people who likied my blog. More than half of them I have hung out with in the last 20 years, sometimes for long periods of time (as in years), and many of them are deep, good friends I'd gladly risk my life for. I now have several groups of friends. Online groups, old convention fogies, childhood friends, user group friends, and some assorted stubs.

But... say I get sick of America, and move to Sweden? While that is unlikely, that presents some challenges. Even though most people speak English as a second langauge there, there would still be a language and cultural barrier. But this is a skill my mother was famous for: making friends and social connections in foreign countries she has just arrived in. I must have it in my blood.

First, I'd seek the alternative community. There is an SCA in Sweden (I met some at an Iron Forge museum), I know there's a thriving sci-fi community in Stockholm, so assuming I am in a major city center, I'd target those communities first. Look for computer club notices and Linux user groups. The Internet would make this so easy. At first, I'd make friends with a lot of people I'd probably lose within a year. Not by choice, but that's the reality of it. Maybe I made some mistakes culturally, or maybe we just didn't click after the first few times hanging out. A few I might have to avoid once I realized they were crazy or personally broken in a bad way, but that would only be a few people. But out of a few dozen people I tried, I think one or two would "stick." Then I'd build from there.

If I moved to, say, Lincoln, Nebraska, I'd do the same thing. Or Pittsburgh. Or Salt Lake City, Miami, or Phoenix. Internationally? Tokyo, London, Paris, or Hong Kong I would find a way. Hell, maybe even Beruit. As long as I wasn't in some podunk rural town with no Internet, I would do well. Ad even if and up in Singlegoatistan near the Chinese border where the town only has one phone and two bicycles, eventually, I would do well. It might just take a while. I think I might have to shift around some hobbies... though.

"Wild camel tipping? Tonight? Sure... I'll get my pole."
Tags: childhood, cons, conventions, friends
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