Making friends

March 7, 2011

I met someone the other day who had just moved here from Australia. I had 20 questions for her.

No, more like 120:

  • Why did you move?
  • What drew you here?
  • What was it like in Australia?
  • What did you like about it?
  • What didn’t you like about it?
  • Had you always lived there?
  • Where did you work?

and all the questions that built on her answers.

The thing is, people are interesting. Their motives, their thoughts, their likes and dislikes–I’m curious. Those questions and answers are the first steps in the dance of friendship. And if the answers make clear that we could be friends, all the better. Because I can never have too many friends.

When I moved from California to Tampa in 1996, I met many people. Most of them believed they lived in paradise and that Tampa was the beginning and end of the universe. Very few had any curiosity about what would bring a woman from Silicon Valley to a small city in West-central Florida. Practically none.

And despite much-vaunted “Southern hospitality,” very few reached out to make me feel at home in my new city.

I soon realized that I needed to reach out further myself if I were to make friends in this very cliquish city. So I did. And the rest is history: I still have a great (and sizeable) bunch of very fun friends in the Tampa Bay area, including some of my very closest. Certainly some of my most wonderful, thoughtful and loving friends.

My friends all have one thing in common, and only one: ME.

That’s because I have always subscribed to the Chinese menu style of friendship: one from column A, one from column B, one from column C…. I’ve never had any interest in being part of a clique of homogeneous friends.

In college, sorority life held no appeal. I was what was called a GDI–God-da_n Independent. {Of course, I went to college in the tie-dye years and it was way more fun to be a faux hippie than to be an upper middle class sorority girl from Rochester, NY}

So now that I’m back living in Silicon Valley full time, I get 120 questions from people I’ve just met in California all the time.

From new acquaintances in Tampa, I usually get just one: Which do you like better, Tampa or California?

Is that a rhetorical question?

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