Making Friends On the Road

New Friends

New Friends

Before we moved about, our friends (and family for that matter) were strewn across the United States. We didn’t see them frequently, and we didn’t obsess over it. Yet, on the road, we feel we are losing touch with people. This week, I challenged that assertion with Pat—reminding him of several dinners in California.

These included: a high school friend I haven’t seen in 40 years (as a bonus, her husband joined us); a couple who just moved from our hometown of Evergreen, Colorado to Sonoma County; a backcountry guide Pat hiked with in the Rockies (and another spouse); and a blogging pair we met—first in Paris and now here. (Hmm… first time Paris, second time Northern California, third time ???—can’t wait to see where this is headed!)

Also, we dined with three writers—fellow students from my Paris workshop. One, a 17-year-old prodigy from New York City named Scott, was the youngest student in our class. (I, of course, was his bookend–the oldest). He traveled here with his father and triplet brothers to visit the west coast universities and reached out to us. We met up at a restaurant in Sausalito. Fortuitously, his father is our age. (“Scott, hang on, I’m talking with your dad about the best ago to take Social Security.”) We had a great night.

Bottom line, we’ve been busy. If we are honest, we see more friends now than we ever did when we lived in one spot. At home, life skittered through the cracks as we basked in the illusion of time. Sadly, we deferred far too many dinners to “next month?”

We no longer have the luxury of pushing meals and cups of coffee to some vague future date. Our response now is, “We’re here until September 5th, how about Tuesday?”

Looking forward, one of my best childhood friends is joining us in North Carolina for surfing lessons and at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala this winter for whatever you do in rural Guatemala. Pat and I will spend the fall near his mother, sisters, and friends in Northern Michigan, and on our way out of town, we will stop by his 40th class reunion a few hours south. The last class reunion we attended was his fifth. (The one which occurred 35 years ago—I rest my case.)

One of the most surprising sources of happiness comes from people who inhabit our daily lives—Bouba the chicken man and the owners of Ober Mamma in Paris, or the cheese man, Raymond, in Budapest. We frequent the same businesses, in large part, because this adds connections to what can feel like a disconnected life.

Our last day in Paris, a friend joined us for dinner at Ober Mamma. The owners picked up our meal. As we left, the waiters and bartenders lined up and hugged and kissed us. Outside, our friend asked, “How many times did you have to eat there to get that type of send off?”

Answer, “A lot.”

Many nights, the owners joined us for a while. “Let’s go see Victor and Tigrane” became shorthand for “Let’s go eat at Ober Mammas.” Even during a stay in Paris, arguably one of the best food cities in the world, we didn’t rush about trying a new restaurant each night, selecting instead a place which felt like home.

What is missing from our lives now, I believe, is a sense of control. In Evergreen we knew where our friends were, even if we seldom saw them. We felt we could—and that was enough. Yet control is an illusion. Once you accept that, it allows you to relax, place faith in the future, and relish each interaction when it happens.

Categories: How To

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7 replies

  1. Control is overrated Julie, it is fleeting at best and gives a false sense of ownership.
    Friendships, like relationships, need to be worked on, and many drift because of the ‘we’ll fit it in sometime’ attitude.
    Your post holds a lot more wisdom than I think you intended. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    • Colin, I think that giving up my control has been the hardest parts of this life. But I have also grown to accept something good always happens. And as I tell Pat when things are cascading out of control, “At the end of the day, nobody dies.” (Oh, and you are welcome for the reminder!)

  2. Hi, Julia

    I’m studying Hungarian in preparation for a vacation in Budapest in October and would like to contact Hungarian-speaking people in the Philadelphia/So. Jersey area to practice with. Can you help me? Also, would love to hear of your recommended tours and restaurants. I am not interested in the Vienna trip because I have already been there–a lovely city–but my interest now is only Hungary.

    • Hi Madeline.. I know a ton of Hungarian speakers, but all live in Hungary! However, I did have a work colleague relocate to Philadelphia. He should still be living there. Send me an email at “” and I’ll see if I can locate him.

  3. I loved this part! I can SO relate!

    We no longer have the luxury of pushing meals and cups of coffee to some vague future date. Our response now is, “We’re here until September 5th, how about Tuesday?”


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