Making new friends is tough for me. At conferences, I keep to myself, shy about approaching others and starting a conversation. I’ve always been that way. My ex-husband said that when he first met me in high school I seemed aloof. (Frankly, I should have stayed that way.) Why I’m like that when I can speak with ease to an audience of a hundred people is beyond me.
Saturday, I found myself in that familiar situation while attending the Black Rose Writing convention Saturday in San Antonio, Texas. While I hung with, and enjoyed the company of a fellow writer I knew through a critique group, she left at the end of the conference.
Feeling miserable, the idea of a drink, calling it a night, and retiring to my room seemed the best possible option. However, while speaking with my daughter, she encouraged me to mingle. After demurring, she insisted.
MAKING NEW FRIENDS
As luck would have it, shortly thereafter, I stepped into the elevator with a group of women headed to the bar. Upon exiting, I screwed up my courage, asking if I could join them. Graciously they said “yes”. We spent the next several hours in wonderful conversation. Turns out the group knew each other from previous groups. Amazingly, it felt as if I had known these women forever.
Eventually one of them pulled out a red bracelet, handing it to me—a friendship bangle all of them were wearing. Touched and honored, I know these women will be good companions on our writing quest.
KEEPING THE OLD FRIENDS
Amazingly, this weekend I also spent time with old friends. Prior to leaving San Antonio, I lunched with a local writer I’ve known for years. The transaction was gratifying. Then, my best friend since third grade met me in San Antonio for dinner Friday. What a treasure to have such a friend who will be there in good times and bad. She’ll even be with me after my knee replacement in October. Stay tuned for this!
THINKING ABOUT FUTURE FRIENDS
As I head to yet another conference in Chicago with the Women Fiction Writers Association, I will wear my red bracelet daily. While many of my online friends are attending the conference, it will remind me to reach out to others who feel as I do at large gatherings. And, by doing so, I’ll add to those around me who are willing to mutually nurture each other.
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT FRIENDS
In the end, friends are all we have. Family may not always be there for us. Loved ones die. And while we lose touch with friends because they move or pass away, if we continue to make new friends, we will always have that human connection.
But these relationships must be nurtured. Keeping in touch, thinking about them, and being thoughtful takes work, but it’s worth it.
As the Girl Scout Song says:
Make new friends,
But keep the old,
One is silver, and
The other’s gold.