Thursday, February 16, 2012

Expecting Less

My best friend from high school did not tell me she was expecting until she was six months into her pregnancy. That too happened during a conversation when I insisted she come visit me for a few days, since I did not have time to take off from work and travel three thousand miles to go see her, and she had to let me know she has been advised against traveling. I congratulated her and said all the right things I have no personal experience about myself (hope you are feeling well, hope you are not to scared, etc.). Yet in a certain way, I felt distanced. This is not because I have not embarked on the marriage-leading-to-family bandwagon myself. This was because despite being close friends, it took so long for me to know.

As a person interested in learning about human behavior and motivations (because this is what I research about, although from a different perspective and with a different population), I started thinking of the various factors that would have made her decide against sharing the news earlier. I know from personal experience that a lot of women do not share their news of pregnancy, do not buy clothes or toys for the baby until it is born, or do not like their friends photographing pictures of their babies. Although I do not get the point, I respect their decision and leave them alone. It might have been that. For me, it would be nothing short of good news like passing your PhD dissertation, getting a job, or buying a house. Since I would not hesitate to share such good news, again, I failed to see her point. My mother had a different take on it, a cultural and gender perspective perhaps, although in an absurd way. She said my friend must have been “shy” to share the news. Although I know what she means by being shy, it is a ridiculous concept for someone who is exactly my age, lives in the same society, and is of a similar mental makeup. I do not know if there are other reasons, but my most plausible explanation so far is the following-

With time, we tend to hang out with similar groups, and resonate with people who are similar to us. I sense she would have shared the news earlier if I had a baby myself, was expecting, or was at least married. Ever noticed that married people mostly tend to hang out with other married people, graduate students tend to hang out with other graduate students, and Bengali people tend to hang out with other Bengali people? There is a common ground, a common theme underlying all these instances, be it commonality in culture, language, marital status, or stages in your career. If this is the case, it is not good news for me. All it means is that yet another friend moves on with their life. When we grew up together and were great friends, we had common themes binding us. We were in the same class, studied the same subjects, took tuitions together, lived in the same neighborhood, and had the same friend circle. Now, we do not really have anything in common anymore.

I am too old to make new friends based on commonality (for example, single women in their thirties interested in academics, writing, and discussing the specifications of the camera they use. Imagine the odds of finding one in my town?). And it seems I do not fit into certain existing circles anymore. Which boils down to pretty much what I do in my free time anyway- play online scrabble (alone), read books (alone), watch movies (alone), and congratulate my friends during those occasional phone calls when they tell me they are getting married the next day, or having a baby over the weekend.



alpine path said...

So true!!!! I can see that as days go by, close friends move away because you don't fit their circle anymore (or vice versa). And this is more painful if the friend was a really good one and if you wanted to keep the friendship going. Damn this one!! :( said...

as they say .... you lose some to gain some :)

kaichu said...

I celebrate friends for commonality as well as for differences. You and I met by chance not too long ago, but I think we're good friends in spite of being rather different in temperaments and our attitudes to life, tai na ki?

Although I am also single, approaching 30, an academic, love to read and travel, and you can say these are common qualities that perhaps helped build our friendship, a lot of these are external details that doesn't necessarily mean we're the same kinds of people in how we approach living the good life, as it were. I like meeting and being with all kinds of people, actually--keeps it interesting. Also because I am genuinely interested in people and what makes them tick.

The one constant that's in common across all friendships I value, though, are good conversations, aka, the ability to talk and share and laugh together. If you can have that in spite of where you move in life, long-lasting friendships are possible. Or perhaps I've been luckier than most? Jani na re, but wishing you all the best.


Visitlife said...

Hey sweety,

It happens with almost everybody at some part of their lives. It has nothing to do with marraige or being single. I was the first one to get married from my group while all my friends went ahead to pursue MBA after engineering. One year after my marriage, I realized that all my friends have new buddies from new college, while I am too involved to do friendship with new people. Also, whenever we talked once in a while, we hardly use to find anything in common. So its a part of life and we have to deal with it.

rt said...

I still think the fear of a mishap!! i sometimes do that too ;)
though your point still stands true!