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I Wanna Do Boring Things with You

February 9, 2012

I’m a devotee of Rob Brezny’s Free Will Astrology. While I don’t believe in astrology per se (or any other kind of magic), Brezny consistently gives poetic, optimistic and profound insights and advice on living.

My Rob Brezny horoscope today said this:

After analyzing the astro data for this Valentine season, I realized that you could really benefit from being less sober, solemn, and serious about your intimate relationships. That’s why I decided to collect some one-liners for you to use as you loosen up your approach to togetherness. Please consider delivering them to anyone you’d like to be closer to. 1. “Let’s go maniacally obsess about our lives in a soothing environment.” 2. “We’ll be best friends forever because you already know too much about me.” 3. “It would be great if you would schedule your social events around my mood swings.” 4. “I’m sorry I drunk-dialed you before realizing you were already in bed with me.” 5. “You’re one of the few people I would consider hugging right after a Bikram Yoga class.” 6. “I wanna do boring things with you.” (All the one-liners come from Someecards.com.)

This particular message struck a deep chord today, as it speaks directly to what I’m feeling is missing in most of my friendships (but especially a couple of friendships in particular).

I moved to a new city–my current city–six years ago. It took me a couple of years to create much of a social life at all. Now, I’m quite thankful to say, I have a pretty good one. But I find it unsatisfying, and I often feel deeply disconnected, even during hectic times when it seems I’ve got something scheduled every night of the week.

The problem is that my social life revolves around events. All of my friends are people I go out with. Usually for drinks; sometimes we branch out and go for dinner or even, rarely, for a hike. I have a couple of friends I sometimes play board games with. That’s an improvement, I guess.

Thing is, I think someone really becomes your friend when you do boring things together. Instead of going out, you stay in and make dinner. One of you is spending a quiet evening in with a DVD, and you text the other person to drop by and bring beer. They need help cleaning their garage or planting their garden, so you go over and get dusty and sweaty and eat peanut butter sandwiches and apples and lemonade. You go for a quick bike ride together, or a walk around the park–not as a special occasion thing, but because that’s what you’d do anyway. You both are too swamped with work to get together, so you meet in a cafe and do your work for a few hours, separately but side-by-side.

Doing everyday activities together like this is meaningful in a lot of ways. It enables people who are really busy to connect with each other more often, spend more time with each other than they otherwise could if they had to carve all their social time out of their schedule. It either denotes or creates (I’m not sure which) an ease between the two of you, that you’re comfortable being yourselves together and doing the things you need to do. Similarly, it both expresses and creates trust, because you don’t always feel the need to entertain one another, or to make a special event out of the time you spend together (not that special events aren’t also good, sometimes). And I think your energy and focus shifts when you’re in down-time mode, in a way that often makes you more genuine, and even vulnerable. Also, I’m an introvert, and I guess to me this kind of time is just what really counts as quality time.

To me, when you get to this point with someone, you’ve “arrived” as a friend. And in six years in this city, there’s no one (except my husband) I have that with.  So, I see the people I care about less often than I would like, because they always feel they have to make time for me, instead of just sharing with me whatever they’re already doing.  And I’m tired of having to make it an event every time I see the people I care about. I want to figure out how to shake the expectation that to be together, we have to do something together. I keep hoping that someday, one or a few of these relationships will shift, cross that line to where we feel at ease with one another, willing to just share space instead of being entertainment for one another.

Until then, I am, paradoxically, both overscheduled and lonely.

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