MISS MOOX + time


It's amazing how lonely it is possible to be even in the middle of a friendly community; how possible it is to outwardly belong to a group and yet not find anyone whose "innerness" corresponds to yours.

I've lived here in the States for almost a year, and I have yet to find anyone whom I would consider a real friend. I don't mean a friend with whom you get together once in a while for coffee or dinner; or the casual group with whom you spend at least one evening a week; or the people you see every Sunday at church. I mean a real friend, the kind you can tell anything to, the kind you can call at anytime, the kind who never tires of your presence or you of theirs, the kind with whom you feel completely comfortable being yourself.

I have a few old friends, more or less approaching that description, with whom I talk regularly on the phone. But such is not a substitute for proximity: the companionship I crave.

Not long ago I tried mentioning this to an acquaintance, one of the "hang-out" crowd. "You know what I've noticed here," I began. "People are really social, but there don't seem to be many deep relationships."

He was all over me in an instant. "What do you mean? I have no idea what you're talking about." I mumbled a retraction and gave up.

But I do think it is partly down to American culture. It seems to be characterized by shallow relationships and few deep roots. People in many other cultures value friendship, the true knowing of another. They're willing to take time to develop it. Here, at least in my experience, people value social interaction over substance.

My church is very social. Most Sunday afternoons, I'm with a group for lunch. At least two evenings a week, I can count on my calendar being filled by some celebration or get-together. But I still don't feel like I know any of these people. Witty banter, laughter, and gentle ribbing are as deep as it gets. We hold each other at arms' length, and if there is anything going on beneath the surface, none of us reveals it.

I know part of it is me. A loner and an outsider since childhood, I've always had the sense that I inhabit a hidden world known only to myself. I've only ever met one other inhabitant of that world; it seems like all others are strangers to it and I, a stranger to them and theirs. When meeting people I search them hungrily for clues of citizenship: a cast of face, a turn of speech. But almost always in vain. It's a bit like being stranded in the desert and gasping for water; only in my case, the water is friendship.

I've increasingly accepted it, or at least accepted the fact that it may be the way it is. But I'm feeling lonely, starved for real relationship. It's getting discouraging that in a year I haven't found it and don't feel likely to. I miss the widely multicultural environment of Toronto. And I'm feeling restless, ready to travel the globe again. Maybe I need a vacation. Or maybe, I need just one friend.

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Relevant to: Loneliness + time