Hard to believe it, but yesterday marked a month since our arrival. This week, my mother will return to the States, and so our settling in phase will make way for real life here, on our own. Which means: I probably have to make some friends. Otherwise, when G or C have those fun times where they lie down on the floor screaming, I may just get down and join them.
Usually, groups of women make me extremely uncomfortable. This is either the lingering effect of having grown up with all brothers and mostly male cousins, or some leftover high school trauma I still haven’t sorted out. And I like the friends I’ve had since before babies, because how can you form sentences or get to any interesting conversation when you are constantly dashing off to make sure someone doesn’t hurl themselves off the playscape? Plus, these friends knew me when I didn’t wear bad clothes, supportive shoes, or my hair in a bun on a daily basis. They knew me when I had a job and talked to adults.
But if you move, you have to leave people behind. The last place I lived in —after tearfully departing L.A. and the friends who nursed me through pregnancy and whose babies I was among the first to hold– had a mother’s group. Reluctantly, I joined. Through it I met C., and also S. C. had organized a group of moms with similarly-aged children. C, L, J, and D were the core group of us that tried to meet up on Thursdays and do something. Bit by bit, we got to know each other, and I left feeling sad. If we had stayed, perhaps some would have deepened into real and lasting friendships.
Here, though, it’s like I am thrust back into the awkwardness of dating: You catch someone’s eye in the playground, smile casually, and then maybe strike up a conversation while pushing the swings. But if it feels like you are clicking, how do you take it to the next level? I don’t want to seem too desperate, making the first move, “Can I have your phone number?”
One day I actually re-met the woman I wrote about on our first day in Dublin, in Herbert Park. She was the one who asked when we had moved to Dublin and I responded, “5:00 a.m. this morning.” To which she shouted, “Welcome!” while also, I think, trying to conceal her shock that we were not at home sleeping. Anyway, after chatting again, she asked for my number! She said she would text me about getting together! I was pretty excited. But a few days passed, and I grew increasingly insecure, waiting for the text. I should have asked for her number in return. But then if I texted her when she said she was going to text me that would look sad. I picked up my phone in that annoying, illogical impulse that holding it and checking it can will someone into responding.
Recently I met up with another mum, because her son attended a crèche/pre-montessori we were considering for the boys. (More on the process of “detachment” in another post.) She was awesome. Laid-back, even though she has a two-month old and is on maternity-leave from Google. We chatted for an hour and a half. She suggested getting together again, some afternoon. This one is promising, though she did decline my invitation to get together last week. Sigh.
As for the Herbert Park woman, she’s toying with me. I got a few text invitations, but when I can’t show up to the thing she’s proposed (group activities that would require a car), I don’t get a response back to my texts suggesting another meet-up. I think she’s not ready for the one-on-one, and is doing the group invitation. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much how Sascha and I started “dating.”