I am starting a new challenge today.
And in the spirit of a new diet or a new budget I am declaring my intentions here on this blog so that you might hold me accountable.
Beginning now just after Labor Day, 2012 and ending at the end of my children’s school year, on Memorial Day, 2013 I promise to TRY ONE NEW WAY EACH WEEK TO MEET A FRIEND IN MIAMI.
Because, at the moment, I can’t figure out how people make friends in this city.
The truth is I moved to Miami 8 months ago, without knowing anyone, and I have two and a half new friends. Some of you might think that sounds like plenty of friends. With 3 young, active children, an adoring husband and a couple of friends, what more does a girl really need?
Well, that question has caused many pep talks from my inner cheerleader and several “talking-tos” from my inner drill Sargent (both of whom can get annoying, but when a girl is short on friends she must resort to a little self talk). After a few of these conversations and a bit of thought this is what I’ve come up with in answer to the question “why exactly do I want more friends?”
(1) I like people. My mom has always told me I am a people person and have been outgoing since birth. I was voted “friendliest” in both junior high and high school. I was social chairman of my sorority at Ole Miss, president of a large early childhood PTA in Dallas, and have always heard, “you seem to know everyone.” The maid-of-honor in my wedding told me that she sought my friendship because I was the girl in our sorority who knew everyone’s name at the party on Friday night. All of these things could be considered super cool or super dorky, depending upon who you ask. The truth is I really like people and enjoy the process of getting to know the intricacies about each individual that eventually I call friend. Even more basic than that though, I am used to having friends around.
(2) As a mother and wife I find it hard to find the time required to develop a “best friendship.” When I moved back to Dallas with my boyfriend (now husband) 14 years ago I found myself in the same predicament that I am in now: in a new city with no friends. During the 12 year period I lived in Dallas (we spent two years living in Zurich, Switzerland which makes my math work) I would not say I made a best friend, but a lot of good friends. This was nice because, although best friends are certainly wonderful, there were quite a few women I could call upon during an emergency, if I needed a favor or if I just wanted a partner in crime. As our families grew both mine and my friends’ free time seemed to dwindle. It was nice to have a large circle of friends because the same person was not available all of the time. I would like to have more friends in Miami so I have someone to call when I need or want her and she can be there.
(3) I much more enjoy the things that my 4,6 and 8-year-olds find fun when there is another adult around. My husband works great for this companionship but during the summer, after school and during the day with a part time pre-schooler (I have one left) he is not available. Pre-Miami, I spent a lot of time with women at soccer practice, dance recital dress rehearsals (maybe the worst) the zoo, little gym, the splash park, well, the list goes on and on… I would like to have more friends because it makes life more fun.
(4) Also, I would like to have friends so I can gossip. I like girl talk. I like hearing every detail of your latest dinner party, from the decor to your recipes. I want to tell you about my favorite new nail color or the latest shirt I saw at the Target across town (because it was not at the two locations closer to our neighborhood). I want to try to decipher why Justin is marrying Jessica and explain why even though she isn’t my favorite, I do think she is a better choice than Cameron who is gorgeous but is probably pretty nutty.
My sweet husband tries to be a gossip sounding board for me and although I appreciate it, he is not quite the same as one of my running partners or the moms on the Lightening soccer team. He doesn’t know the subject matter and can’t provide any reciprocal insight. The lead story on Access Hollywood does not fall high enough on the importance scale to waste an out-of-town friend’s precious phone time. And although I’ve exchanged some great texts on such matters, it’s just not as fulfilling. I’d like to get some good acquaintances in place for the not-so-important conversations that I find oh-so-important to lighten-up some days or make baseball practice not seem as long.
So, you might be wondering, “well Miss Friendliest, what is the problem? If you’re so good at making friends then get to it. “
But that is just it! I am stumped. I have tried to make friends and what I thought I knew was the magic formula for friendship just isn’t working for me in Miami. This friendly Houdini can not figure out how the “Magic City” is pulling the rabbit out of her hat.
I thought that stay at home moms across the United States probably all made friends the same way. I knew that I had to be patient. We are a very busy group. But I believed if I consistently practiced the behaviors and routines that I did in Dallas, the women would just appear in my life and then I could nurture relationships into friendships.
But that just has not been the case.
In Dallas 3 of my closest friends were the ladies I ran with at 5:30 a.m 3-4 days a week but I have not found anyone that enjoys running before the sun comes up. It seems like everything happens a little later in the day here in MIA.
Another close knit-group of friends was my play group: 7 women with whom I met every Tuesday at 2:00. We rocked our babies and chased our toddlers while we shared stories or exchanged advice and sipped on coffee or water or wine or whatever we felt like that day (usually wine!). I have not found many women available during the week day in our new home town I do not have any research to support this, but it seems like there are a lot more women who choose not to stay home here in Miami than in Dallas. I think that is great, but I have not figured out when these working girls see their friends, or more importantly, when they might be able to see me!
I loved the women I worked with on the PTA board in Dallas. The percentage of parents who participate in the Parents Club at our new school is pretty small so not a large pool of potential new friends. I really enjoyed talking with the new school’s President and Vice President, who just so happen to be the owner of the school’s sister and wife, but those relationships did not progress once school ended in May. Their children left Miami for the ENTIRE summer for sleep away camp in the Northeast and I did not think either of them would be interested in hanging out with me and my 3 kids at the beach all day.
My son joined a baseball team and none of the other moms talked to me. But it wasn’t just me… none of them talked at all except for the two crazy ladies that yelled at their son, the coach and any one else who did not play the game to their liking. I am sure I could find one or two psycho sporting parents at every baseball field in the United States but what is the deal with the rest of the team moms not talking amongst themselves?
In Dallas, when school was out and the temperatures sky rocketed my family and I spent most of our time at the Knights of Columbus local pool. We had swim team practice every morning and it was a great place to cool off in the afternoons. Many of the worlds biggest problems were resolved there on Friday night, and then again on Saturday night when the topics seemed fresh because the previous night’s margaritas tasted so good. But there are no summer swim teams here and if anyone was swimming in the country club pool to which we bought a summer membership, it was most likely a member of my family.
I am not sure if it is the international demographics, the Northeastern influence (even though it is almost the southern most city in the continental United States no one would dare call Miami southern) or if I just have a lot to learn about people and how they make friends, but the fact is I have had no luck making friends in Miami.
But I am not giving up.
I am going to be creative.
I am going to be brave.
And by the end of next May I will have compiled a list of the top 10 ways to make friends in Miami.
And hopefully, I will have friends.
And if I do not, I will present to you “The Complete List of What Not to Do to Make New Friends in Miami” and maybe save you a little time.
Wait listen… can you hear that? That is the sound of me bracing the arms of my desk chair waiting for your comments that will set me straight. Am I making presumptions about Floridians that just aren’t true? Have I completely missed the Miami friendship cruise boat and instead bought a first class seat on the train to Loserville? Well I can take it. Bring it on. I really want to hear your comments and would appreciate a nudge in the right direction.