New City, No New Friends

6 min read

Friendship meaning

I forgot how hard it is to move to a new city where you know virtually no one. It’s my sixth time doing this. I think it gets harder each time.

When I moved to Los Angeles years and years ago I dreamed about the fabulous life I’d have hobnobbing with celebrities, meeting other actors, falling in love with my hot male castmates in all the leading roles I’d get and generally just living a flyass life. None of that happened. The closest I came to meeting a celebrity that early on was during planning for a charity event. We were looking for star power to amp up the interest; someone offered, “My friend is friends with Ryan Seacrest. Maybe we could get him to host?” At the time, Seacrest was a drivetime DJ for Star 98.7 in L.A.. He declined the offer. The next year, he signed on as host of American Idol; of course he wasn’t going to host our rinky-dink, ill-planned, never-happened charity event.

I threw myself into friend-making in Los Angeles. I met some weird people the first couple of years. I attached myself to a social butterfly through a women’s group I found. She knew a lot of people, was exceedingly outgoing and talked a lot about things that were foreign to me yet intriguing like reiki and chakras. But, not too long after I met her, I found her “crazy”. (Everyone has something “crazy” about them, it’s just a matter of deciding if you can deal with their brand of crazy.) She hooked up with the boyfriend of the sister of a friend (got that?). When confronted about her trifling behavior, she said, “I am friends with her, not her sister, so I have no loyalty to her sister.” This was my first encounter with “LA Logic”:  basically it’s illogical, full of specious arguments, but allows one to justify behaving like an asshole. I, and the friend believe(d): you hurt people I love, you hurt me. I also soon realized she was a bit of a flake, a wee bit too new-agey for me and always seemed to have a relationship with a “soulmate.” Problem is she seemed to have a new soulmate every few months. After a while, I stopped caring about her latest soulmate, how she finally found love and how her life was now complete. Oh and she might move to another state to be with the latest one! She was like a starter friend. A friend to help make the transition easier, show you around, introduce you to other new people and generally make your new home a little less lonely. Then as time passes, you gradually part ways. I would like to skip over the starter friend phase here in San Francisco and just find friends.

One year early on in elementary school, I was transferred to a new class for the “gifted and talented.” (I know they meant well, but how the heck does that make the kids feel who aren’t in those classes? Slow and awkward?) One of the popular girls in class invited me to her birthday slumber party. My life was made. At that early age I was already strategically navigating my social life. I figured if I could get in with her and be entertaining at this party, I would be guaranteed invites to the other kids’ birthday parties. I really wanted everyone to like me. We had a great time at the party. People laughed at my jokes. The next morning the birthday girl said to me, “Keisha, you are fun! I want to have you at every birthday party!” Who was the winner? The winner was me. I had this. I would be popular. A couple of months later, my family left New York for the promise of a safer life in Georgia. All that work and I had to start all over again. Sigh.

I’ve been in San Francisco for two months now and I have no friends. Now that I’m no longer spending my weekends getting my apartment together, I have time to think about this. Zero. Zip. No click for anybody to fuck with. Okay fine, I have one friend. But she’s busy, she has a man, her family lives here and I don’t want to attach myself to her like a canker sore. “Take me wherever you go. Don’t leave me! I’ll make you feel pain!” I’m a big girl, I can fend for myself. But, it’s lonely. I spend too much time with one of my cats (the other one is a useless, skittish, waste of fur and cuteness). A few weeks ago, I was taking a bath. I never take baths. I am not that wine, bubbles, soak, cucumbers-on-sockets, bathtub-time girl. I like showers; no sitting in my filth. This cat I’ve had for 10 years has only seen me take a bath a few times, so when I hopped in a tub full of water, he was curious. I watched him pace around the tub examining the water and the bubbles, reaching up to peer into the tub. He looked at me as if to ask, “Is okay I jump?” “No, kitty, no jump.” I could just imagine the ensuing hilarious hijinks once he realized he was voluntarily in a tub full of water. If by “hilarious” you understand I mean “a naked, painful, mauling by cat incident.” He didn’t jump in. But, the fact that he thought about it led me to the conclusion that he and I are spending too much time together. He’d probably be speaking English and quoting rap lyrics along with me if his mouth could form the words.

I network. I smile at (almost) everyone, including the guards at all the banks in the financial district on my way to work. I’m probably now on some government watch list. People who case banks for robberies probably act all friendly and shit. One guy likes it though. He always gives me a big grin and a “hi” now. Weekdays, people in the financial district brisk their way down the street like work drones. No smiles, no stopping to look at the architecture, no flashdancing; just singular focus on getting to work. Why? The office ain’t going anywhere. Sometimes I like to smile widely at people just to throw them off. Yeah, I smiled at you. Boo! h

I’ve no problem doing things solo. But, I prefer for that to be a choice, not the default option because I have no others. Last week, when my hormones decided to hijack my brain, I had a mini meltdown. I saw a posting for an event I would have loved to attend: SantaCon. People dress up in Santa suits and go pub crawling. How awesome.is.that?! Then I realized I had no one to go with (let alone a Santa suit just hanging around) and I threw a fit…to myself. I have no friends to throw a fit to. Now I have to wait another 362 days before SantaCon rolls around again. I better have some Santa-suit-wearing, pub-crawl-loving friends by then. I do not want to spend another SantaCon weekend Michelle Tannering it: “This is nooo fun, noooo fun, looking at the waaaallllll.”

Ask anyone how you make friends outside of school and they’ll say: “Join a church group!” “Have you heard of meetup.com (as if this is 2005 and a revolutionary idea)?” “Take a class!” “Make friends at work!” Always said with exclamatory enthusiasm.

I don’t go to church. I’m not going to church. So, that’s out.

I’ve joined a shit ton of meetup groups. I’m not sold on meetup.com though. In L.A., I attended a few meetup groups. I met a few people who ensured I would be scared to go to another meetup again. You know the type: no social skills, weird ticks, creepily interested in you and every detail of your life, or the gross guy who is clearly there trolling for women. You’re at a women’s brunch, mofo, why are you here? Perhaps SF meetup-ers are of the more uncreepy variety? We’ll see.

I started taking a Spanish class a few weeks ago. For myself. I am tired of being a monolingual American. Bonus if I meet people. It’s a group class for up to eight people. As luck would have it, there are me and two other girls in the class. Just three people. Girls. I specify girls because a question I’m frequently asked by inquiring friends (in other cities!) is, “Have you met/seen/smelled any hot guys there?” No/No/No.

Work is…cliquey. I’m sure people don’t mean act as such, but they are not exactly inclusive. I bet karma is behind it, cackling at my plight.  The bitch. I am told I was in a clique at my last job. It wasn’t on purpose; I promise! I am proactive. I have targeted a few lucky people that I have decided I want to be my friends. They are people that I have or will ask to lunch or potentially smile at too often, making them think the new girl is creepy. Nope, the new girl just has no friends. One of my younger sisters said to me with 95% seriousness, “Keisha, you’re pretty, who wouldn’t want to be friends with you?” Ha! No one can blow smoke up your bum and make you feel momentarily less like a loser than a sister or a good frie…awwww (tear).

I just want a buddy.

I just want a buddy.

I’ve made progress! Last Friday in the kitchen at work, I ran into one of the girls that is actually outwardly friendly to me. She asked me if I had any plans for the weekend. My response: “I don’t really have any plans because I don’t have any friends here yet.” Why lie? She took pity on me, having been new in SF once herself, and invited me out. Last Saturday night, I actually had legit plans with someone who lives in this city. It turned out to be a pretty good-sized group, so I met a few new people. I had a great time! I danced, I drank, I friended my ass off. Now I await their verdict. Am I cool enough to be asked out again? I can’t seem too eager, but I can’t play it too cool. It’s elementary school all over again.

I’m on my way. I’ll get there. I’ll find my buddies. Getting there is the hard part. When I do finally have friends I think I may allow myself one really good Sally Field Oscar moment (“They like me! They really like me!”) and then dorkshame myself.

If you know of anyone who lives here whose personality you think would mesh well with mine, feel free to send ‘em my way. Yes, that is how desperate I am. I am trolling for friends on my blog which is read by people from the United States to countries I’ve never even heard of but am now intrigued to visit.

16 Comments
  • Datchic
    December 6, 2013

    I feel your pain. I moved to another country 2 years ago, and just started going to college beginning of this year. I’ve always been a social person, I had a big social network back home. But ever since i came here it seems close to impossible to forge new friendships and be part of any kind of groupclique. Everyone seems to have their own close circle of friends, and they show no interest in welcoming new people in it cause, well, they have people to hang out with on the weekends, so why bother going through the whole process of getting to know someone all over again. The worst part about is to always having to put up a confident and enthusiastic front to get people to like you. i mean, nobody wants to befriend a grumpy person, right. And smiling. Ugh, i keep smiling at people to demonstrate my interest but it’s getting ridiculous now cause i don’t get any response. I have now come to realize the value of my friends and family which i had taken for granted. I used to have so many friends that i even broke off ties with some since i couldn’t keep up with all of them. Good ‘ol days. Another problem i seem to have is that i simply can’t find common ground with most of my classmates, we don;t share interests, values or beliefs. nothing. nada. and that makes matters 10 times more difficult.

    The whole issue has gotten to the point where I can’t judge whether i have become socially awkward due to 2 years of social absence. Maybe it’s just me being weird around, maybe i have forgotten how to socialize. It felt good to let off some steam that has accumulated over the last years.

  • Heidi
    January 3, 2013

    I’m rubbish at patience. 🙁

    Was the person to mentioned above with the reiki the same one from GNOLA that I remember? She was nuts. And so many soulmates it was amazing. 🙂

    • thegirlnextdoorisblack
      January 3, 2013

      Its like this person is reading my mind. This is awesome, thanks!

      • thegirlnextdoorisblack
        January 3, 2013

        One of the commenters mentioned two offline things I’m signed up to do and start soon, so it sounds like I’m on the right track. 🙂 Thanks again for sharing.

  • Heidi
    January 2, 2013

    Hey hon…. I know what you mean. But that’s what we get for being adventurers and not ‘settling’. I found the hiking groups on meetup in London to be great. I haven’t made super close friends with many people here, but I’m not really a super-close-friend kind of person anyway. And I have met a lot of people that I like to do things with – especially hiking and small weekend trips. And didn’t we meet online through GNOLA? You can meet some cool people via these things! (If I do say so myself!)

    I’ll introduce you to my friend Rob via FB – he’s in Campbell though (near San Jose), so it’s a bit of a hike, but you’ll love him. He’s hysterical and a sweet guy.

    Take care and I’m glad the cat didn’t jump in… that would have been painful.

    Happy New year!!!!
    Hx

    • thegirlnextdoorisblack
      January 2, 2013

      We did, in fact, meet through GNOLA, back when I was a baby. 😉 I’m definitely open to meeting people online, but I’m more choosy now in my older age. I have a few other adventurous-mover friends that I think of as inspiration so as not to get to discouraged. You are one of them. 🙂 I just have to be patient. I hate being patient. 🙂

  • Shaaban Fundi
    December 23, 2012

    Kibogoji has nominated you for the Liebster Award. Go to http://kibogoji.com/2012/12/22/kibogoji-liebster-award-nominee/ to access it. Cheers and good luck on your move.

  • michelle
    December 19, 2012

    I love, love, love you, my dear! You are wonderful and so much fun, and you will meet some great people soon. And they will be so grateful to know and love you, just like we are!

    • thegirlnextdoorisblack
      December 19, 2012

      Thanks, Michelle. That’s an extra special endorsement given you’ve known me for so long. 🙂 Love you!

  • elizainhollywood
    December 18, 2012

    A few more things, I’m coming to visit you ASAP to introduce you to the friends I have in SF… and you were not in a clique at your old job. You just selected an awesome group of people to be friends with.

  • elizainhollywood
    December 18, 2012

    Speaking of LA logic, it’s usually from people NOT from LA. 🙂

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