Friends, Where Art Thou?
I have struggled a lot to make friends here. I don’t know what it is about Ottawa. Maybe because with every other move I made, there was purpose in it (ie – school, work) so I automatically had community.
It’s been incredibly difficult to move from a place where people are very connected – by way of culture, commonalities, and even public transportation. In Bangkok, if I wanted to see a friend all I had to do was hop on the sky train – a 3 minute walk from my apartment – and I could be anywhere in approximately 20 minutes.
Here I rely on OC Transpo: “the bus service that will make your blood boil.” That’s how I feel about it at least. I’m lucky if I won’t have to wait 20 minutes for a bus.
Last weekend Simon and I had a married couple from our church over for dinner, Josh and Johanne. We were discussing our goals for 2013, and I said I really only have 2: friends and work. First, to build some deep, meaningful friendships, and second, to expand my writing network and hopefully get more contracts.
Josh asked me what I meant by wanting deeper friendships. To put it plainly, I said, “I want to feel like I’d have a reason to stay here even if Simon wasn’t in my life.”
I’m sure if I would have come to Ottawa and remained single, I’d have had more of an opportunity to invest in good friendships. But then again, if I never met Simon, I can’t tell you that I would have stayed…
“Will you marry me?”
Johanne called me on Wednesday night when we were both walking home from work.
“You know, I’ve been thinking about what you were saying on Saturday, and I want you to know that you’re not in this alone. I have friends here, but I don’t have friends that would make me call Ottawa home….so….uh….I guess what I’m saying is…do you want to become better friends with me?”
My face starts getting hot. I’m blushing.
“Oh gosh!” she says, “I feel like I just proposed!”
“I accept your proposal,” I reply, feeling touched. “And I commit to becoming better friends with you.”
It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one lacking good friends, not the only one feeling like I just can’t quite be myself, and not the only one longing for something deeper than chit-chat on a Sunday evening after church.
And it’s even nicer to know that I have been sought out in friendship. Pursued. I have confidence that I will grow deep, lasting roots here in Ottawa, even if it takes time. And that’s key.
After all, I’m growing an oak tree, not a mushroom.