Every Thursday night I have a standing dinner date with a group of friends. We try out different restaurants in the area, each week picked by a different member of the group. The idea is to try as many different places as possible, although we do have favorites we recycle often: a Japanese restaurant for their amazing gyoza, a couple of taverns for the crazy selection of craft beer, and a downtown “lounge” for the wonderful food and martinis. Last year the group tried over 25 different places, which is not bad considering fast food restaurants don’t make the cut and our city is not that big.
This group was started by several math faculty where I work and expanded to include a few others invited in over time. There are only eight of us at the moment, although usually one or two can’t make it any given week, so it’s rare lately that the entire group actually shows up. I was invited last year right around the time I broke things off with my ex-boyfriend. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. After all, I was in a position of leaving not only my ex, but most of my friends. He was an extremely social person and had a huge network of friends that got together often. And while I would still consider most of them my friends and still see them periodically, I’m not an idiot. They were his first, so he would always have first dibs on invites. When I moved out, I knew I was leaving behind my current life and would need to move on and find my own.
Having a standing social event every Thursday night became a lifeline for me in those months following my break up. I’m not sure the group really knows that since I’m not one to do a lot of self-disclosing in a crowd. I looked forward to math dinner like someone who’s reading a novel she can’t put down. I enjoyed the quirky conversations that centered around inside jokes (a lot), work (sometimes) and math problems (often). The person who had invited me was a fairly new friend, and one other I knew previously, but the rest, while familiar faces, were new people to me. The becoming in a new friendship is like a flower slowly opening. Lovely at every point, yet the final outcome is uncertain. Will the entire flower emerge? Will it be what you expected? Will it last or wither and fade quickly?
They will laugh at my metaphor, but I’m an English major so they will have to forgive me. In their language, I’m an outlier. But they didn’t cross me off, and for that I’m thankful. I’m still enjoying the becoming…I hope it lasts a very long time.