“I’m only 43 pages in…I’m screwed. I have almost 300 pages left.”
“Elyse, your meeting is tomorrow! What are you going to do?” He asks sitting down next to me to turn on the tv. My new favorite show was starting. How was I supposed to finish reading when Being Human was starting? I wondered if I could pull it off if I didn’t read the book. It didn’t take much convincing. Yes, I think I could. I dog-eared my book and settled in for a night of tv on the couch.
He nudges my leg. “You have been so excited about this. You started this club. You need to finish the book.” I pick up the book to examine it and wrinkle my nose. Why was it so hard for me to do something when there was a due date associated? A due date I set, no less.
Tom and I recently made it official. I moved in with him three months ago. His house is in the suburbs an hour north of the city. Nothing makes me happier than getting to wake up next to him every day. I adore living together. We go on long walks with his (our?) dog. I love living in an actual house with a garage and a yard. Last summer, we tried our hands at gardening. I insisted on growing pumpkins, which promptly dominated the garden – a rookie mistake. I have a car for the first time in a decade. Life is great but after a few months, I miss my friends.
I lived in the city for eight years – my best friends living less than a five minute walk away. Living and working an hour north makes it difficult to see them on a regular basis. I was used to seeing them almost every day. They are my family here, as my immediate family is not hours but states away. I miss them tremendously. I miss the last minute happy hours, dinners and impromptu outings. I need my own life outside of Tom so I don’t drive both of us nuts. I need to make new friends in the suburbs and have hobbies (blogging!).
After announcing this realization, I got to work. As with everything I do, I jumped in 110%. I scoured the internet. I found a church for us to join (my mom’s suggestion). I memorized the event calendar. I looked into our housing association for neighborhood events. I looked into various clubs, libraries, volunteer opportunities and intra-mural sports teams. My research was disappointing. I was used to the city where there are millions of options for anything your heart desires. Here, there aren’t many. After a lot of thought, I decided I would start a book club but how was I going to get members if I didn’t know anyone?
I started with my girlfriends at work. They jumped on board right away. Awesome – two members already. I reached out to a girl I met through one of my co-workers and asked if she would like to join. She was in, as were some of her teacher friends. Then, I decided the frosting on the cake would be joining Meetup.com. If you are not familiar with the site, it’s like online dating except the activities are in group settings, and it is typically used to make friends. I started a group with an invitation to the first meeting. I was obsessed. I couldn’t stop checking to see if I had members. After three weeks, I had six women confirm they were coming. Success!
I couldn’t wait for the first meeting. I had already been given great feedback about the book I chose. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to read the book. While I may jump into everything 110%, I lose steam quickly; so instead, I chose to do a cram session the day of the meeting. I perused the internet for cliff notes. I found a chapter by chapter summary. I printed off someone else’s discussion questions. I created a list of five book recommendations for the next meeting. I paper clipped everything neatly together, put it in a purple file folder and walked into the meeting confident. No one will ever know.
I sat at the table anxiously waiting for the first members to show up. I kept looking around concerned they wouldn’t see me. After fifteen minutes alone, I see the friend of a friend. I wave, almost too enthusiastically. She was with her teacher friends. Everyone ordered drinks. It was a chatty bunch. I told them that there were supposed to be six women coming from Meetup. I wanted to wait to start any sort of book discussion before they showed up. I began pacing the restaurant. I chased down one woman who looked lost and asked if she was here for a book club. She wasn’t. Knots were forming in my stomach. Beads of sweat were glistening on my forehead. Was I being stood up by people I didn’t even know?
I had been stood up once before by a boy. Randy and I knew each other for two years. It was a relationship that you couldn’t really call dating. We hung out a lot but he never took me out on proper dates despite my insistence. I hoped that it would turn into something. I liked him. He was funny. After a year, I realized it was unhealthy so I cut it off. But he always managed to pop into my life when I was most vulnerable. I had recently broke up with my boyfriend of a year when Randy texted. He told me he had changed. He wanted to take me out. I refused telling him we had tried many times. We just didn’t work. Randy would not give up – he texted me daily asking for a second chance. After two weeks, I gave in to his requests and made plans to meet for dinner. I showed up to the restaurant that night in my favorite black dress. I had butterflies. I was actually nervous. I stood in the foyer of the restaurant for an hour…alone. Randy never showed up. He never returned my texts. And he didn’t return my voicemail – I called him an asshole. It was a lonely feeling I hoped to never experience again.
I did laps in the restaurant a few more times before I resigned to the fact that I was being stood up once again. I was crushed but I knew I had to hold my head up high. I had eight other fantastic women waiting for me at the table to discuss the book I didn’t read. They were excited to be there. They couldn’t wait for the next meeting. They wanted to be my friends. And I wanted to be theirs.