Posted by: GeekHiker | July 10, 2008

Stones & Friendships

(Most of this was written in the mountains on Saturday. It’s more stream-of-consciousness that most of my stuff; just something I figured I might as well write about since it’s been on my mind of late and in the faint hope that maybe by just blurting it all out it will, somehow, leave my system. Truth be told, I’m a bit nervous to post it. It may all be over-share but, what the hell, it’s my blog, dammit.

Oh, and there’s some crazy medical stuff in this one. If that makes you squeamish, don’t read.

Oh, and it’s long. Not just cup of coffee long, but “you better brew a pot” long. And make it the good stuff. Dark roast. Solid black. Lumberjack strength. Put hair on your chest strength. Just ‘sayin.)

In one of George Carlin’s acts from a few years ago, he riffs on the bottled water craze. “When did we all become so thirsty?” he asked. He went on about the fact that everyone nowadays was walking around with their own personal source of water in their hands.

When I was a kid, before the bottled water craze took hold, nobody went around with bottles of water unless they were exercising or working outdoors in the hot sun. Carlin’s right, of course: today, everyone seems to have one, everywhere.

Prior to a few years ago, I laughed at those people. Now I am one of them. And if you stopped any one of them on the street and asked them, I’m sure they would think it over and come up with some perfectly valid (though most likely completely invalid) reason to have their own personal water supply on them on at all times.

I’d like to think my reason is a little better than most that you’d hear.

* * *

It started without any subtly whatsoever. The Sunday night the weekend before a three day 4th of July weekend in 2005, I woke from my slumber to an intense pain in my stomach, the like of which I’d never felt before. Later I would be told by a co-worker, the mother of two kids who’d had the same condition as I before, that the level of pain I’d had was the rough equivalent of what she experienced giving birth.

Ever notice, by the way, that these sorts of things never seem to happen on a Saturday night, when you have at least the chance to sleep it off on Sunday morning? No, whatever it may be, from loud neighbors to fire trucks to strange intestinal pains to things that go bump in the night, it always happens on Sunday. Guaranteeing, of course, that you’ll be extra tired when you have to get your ass out of bed Monday morning to go to work.


The pain subsided after about five minutes. I figured it was something I ate, went back to sleep, and went to work the next day. Where it came back. About ten times worse than before. I shot off a quick e-mail to my supervisor and headed over to the hospital through morning commute traffic. By the time I arrived at the ER, the pain was so intense I was close to throwing up.

Of course, there was the wait. Listening to the guy in the next curtain on his cell phone talking to a friend, hoping he could get off four days from work rather than just three. Me, given my decidedly puritanical work-ethic, was wondering exactly the opposite: will I make it back to work today?

Finally I was taken in, got it through someone’s thick skull how much in pain I actually was, and was hooked up to an IV, through which some absolutely wonderful pain-killing drugs were delivered. The Ex arrived, and stayed by my side as the blood results came back negative and I was sent to have a cat scan.

Finally, roughly six hours after my arrival, we had an answer: kidney stones. Two of ‘em, 3 and 5mm. At 32. Fun. “I’m too young for this shit,” I thought.

Then it was a blur: here’s a prescription for vicodin, head home, you’ll pass them in a few days, here’s a filter to strain all your pee through so we can catch one and send it to the lab, here’s a follow-up appointment with a urologist for Friday. Oh, and have a nice day.

I wasn’t particularly having a nice day, particularly at the thought of having to go to work and having to use what was basically a coffee filter every time I went to the bathroom. But, hey, if it gets that bad, that’s what the vicodin was for, I figured.

Two days later, the first stone passed. Friday, I went into the urologist, told him that, oh yes, I felt it, which made him concerned. The second one would have to be removed. Requiring surgery.

If they could get the laser, that is, which it turned out the hospital didn’t own.

On a Friday.

Before a holiday weekend.

Oh, and if they didn’t find a laser? Something about a “blockage”, a “trip to the ER” and “cutting a hole through the intestinal wall to your bladder.” “Start calling,” I said.

A half hour of nervousness later, the laser was secured, my surgery scheduled for that afternoon. I called the Ex, drove home, she drive me back to the hospital.

Ever had surgery? The best part is where they have you sign all the paperwork acknowledging the fact that, hey, you just might die. Really, you’ll be fine. Just sign here, here and here, just in case.

Real confidence builder, that one.

Actually, if you ever do happen to have surgery, I have one piece of advice: get a good anesthesiologist. Mine was friendly, reassuring, and conveyed complete confidence about the entire procedure. The anesthesiologist is the last face you’re gonna see, so you want it to be a friendly one.

Finally, I was wheeled into the OR. About six other people were around, waiting for a seventh. I chatted with the anesthesiologist (another reason to have a good one) to take my mind of off the fact that I was about to leave the world for a few hours. The last question I asked her: do you like your job? She said yes, she’d been working it for about twelve years and really enjoyed it.

I was glad she said that. “No, I hate my job” is not what the last thing you want to hear before someone dials up the gas, I should think.

I woke up two hours later, in massive pain, and was taken home by the Ex, where I slept fitfully on the couch as it was the most comfortable place I could find.

Later testing (involving collecting urine for 24 hours in a giant orange bottle; try not to think about that one too much) would later prove that, to maintain normal levels of minerals in my system, I require about three liters of water per day. Most people require a little over 1.5.

And as such, wherever I go and whatever I’m doing, you will always find me with water close at hand.

Of course, it wasn’t until weeks after the surgery and the follow-up and everything was said and done that I realized something that, well, I’m glad I didn’t think of before:

Seven complete strangers had seen me naked from the waist down.

Were they impressed or under-whelmed? Did they have a betting pool before hand? Who won? Did they point and laugh?

Probably best that I don’t know.

* * * * *

So, why do I tell (in probably far too much detail for anyone’s sense of good taste) this medical tale?

When I was told that I needed the surgery that day, and that there was no way I could drive myself home afterwards, I called The Ex. At the time she lived near to me and was able to take the day off of work to come to my hospital, sit by my side as I nervously waited before the surgery, and drive me home.

She was the last (okay, fine, the only) real long-term relationship I’ve had, and the timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous.

Today, though, I don’t know who I’d call.

My family doesn’t live in Los Angeles, so that’s out.

If I’m to be perfectly honest about the state of things right now, the unfortunate truth is that I don’t have any friends with whom I’m close enough to call upon in such a situation either.

And I just don’t mean distance-wise, either. Though that’s certainly a factor in a town where people are spread far and wide.

I have acquaintances. I have people and groups that I backpack with, or go hiking with, or go to see local sights with. People with whom, for the duration of those events, we laugh, chat, discuss the issues of the day, and tell jr-high-level jokes.

But once those events are over, we go back to our individual lives. They don’t call me, I don’t call them, except on rare occasion. Even more rare are get-togethers outside of the organized events.

Now, I don’t want to sound unappreciative of these people for what they are in my little world. I enjoy their company, I enjoy spending time around them, and I think they think the same of me. I suppose in some sense they straddle the definition between “acquaintance” and “friend”. But close, personal, “hey let’s go out and grab a beer friends”, they are not. “Hey, can you take a day off from work and drive me home from surgery” even less so.

Maybe it’s simply disappointment that nothing has evolved into any sort of closer friendship. After all, growing up I was promised a “bar where everyone would know my name”, not a town filled with anonymous dance clubs where nobody gives a damn who you are as long as you dress well.

Honestly? Should the need for surgery arise again, my only option is to call a ‘fuckin taxi.

* * *

I’m not alone in this, of course. Studies have come out talking about how few close companions people have in our highly separated world.

I’m certainly not alone in this town. Lots of people in LA complain about the difficulty of meeting people. Whether for dates or companionship or activity partners, LA is an isolating place, what with everyone enclosed in their vehicles and all. I’ve wondered from time to time if I would be closer friends with certain people if only we didn’t live an hour’s drive apart. And if you eschew clubs and bars and dancing, as I do, very few options are left it often seems.

Just because there’s a Starbucks every half block doesn’t mean there’s a coffeehouse culture, either.

* * *

According to my Mom, this isn’t a new problem. I’ve had difficulty making friends since childhood. Made me gullible at times.

As a good little kid, my desire for friends stretched to the point where I got sucked in with the “bad” crowd. How bad? We TP’d one of the elementary school bathrooms. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s a gateway to leather jackets, drugs, motorcycles, and hardcore crime. Yep, it all starts with a wad of soaked toilet paper, flung up so that it sticks to the skylight.

I’ve avoided those fates, but the problem hasn’t changed.

Friendships seem to have had a way of coming and going in my life. The group of geeks I hung out with in high school (in which I was, if you would believe this, the cool one) went its separate ways when we all headed off for college. Helped, at least for my part, when the girl I was dating in the group dumped me for one of the other members, one of my best friends.

Or when I first moved to LA and met someone on Sandstone Peak. We became friends and I was absorbed into her group for a time. There were camping trips to the central coast, snowshoe trips to Cooper Canyon Falls in the dead of winter.

But when she and her boyfriend broke up (at which time she complained to me about how she hated that all the guys she met found her attractive; I’m sure she would have made the exception for the right guy, but I got the message loud and clear) the group dissipated rather quickly.

Then there was the group of guys I hung around with at work for a while until they left for other jobs, or the group that was around when I was with The Ex.

So it goes, an ebb and flow, but few lifelong friendships. And those that have formed are far, far away.

The worst is when I stop making the calls… and realize I was the only one who was doing so anymore.

* * *

Part of it is that I’m naturally quite shy. I think I tend to overcompensate for this to an extreme degree. The side of me here on the blog, the more quiet, introspective side, isn’t always who I am in groups. I’m at my best, and most comfortable, one-on-one. The bigger the group, the less like myself I tend to be.

To force myself out of my shell I find that, quite without meaning to, I become louder and more outgoing than I naturally am. It’s a double-edged sword: on the one hand I’m actually able to talk to people rather than becoming a wall flower; on the other, I’m probably obnoxious as hell.

Even worse is when I say things that I don’t mean to say. The great thing about writing here is that I can edit and re-edit what I say eight or nine times; in the real world, I don’t have that luxury. I blurt out the obvious. I say something stupid, always at the precise moment that no one else is talking so everyone can hear it clearly. I repeat myself because my short term memory is so lousy I don’t recall if I’ve said it before.

Let’s face it: I’m far, far from perfect. I talk too much. Tell too many bad jokes. Say things at the least opportune times. I sometimes get jealous of people. I sometimes get frustrated, almost never with people, but certainly with situations. Somewhere out there is my doppelganger, who doesn’t have those imperfections, who makes friends easily because everyone likes him right off the bat.

Or maybe it’s simpler than all that. Who would want to hang out on a regular basis with someone who repeats himself endlessly?

* * *

I see a really interesting contrast every day. I have (as any decent geek should) multiple e-mail addresses. The number of e-mails I get as the GeekHiker far outweigh the one’s that come to my main e-mail. Not just because of comments, mind you, but even just ongoing conversations with those I’ve met online.

In many ways, it seems, I’ve developed some better friendships in the virtual world than in the real one.

I find myself of late pondering why this is, why there’s more of a connection with those I’ve met online than in the real world. Is it because of shared interests? Shared senses of humor? Because I have revealed more of myself (wants, desires, fears, dreams, all of it) here than I ever would in normal conversation?

Because I am more myself (and less prone to repeating, natch) online than I am in the real world?

That last one is the one that makes me think the most, mainly because if forces to me to confront the reality that the most likely culprit of my pathetic social life is, well, me.

None of which makes me any less nervous about meeting someone who has found me through the blog. I can’t help but have an abnormal fear that, after thinking that I’m this great guy here, that there’s no way I’ll live up to the hype, and they’ll meet me in real life and find out the truth. That they’ll shake their head slowly and go “oooooooooooh.”

Of course, I’ve met people before, with mixed results. On the one hand I’ve found wonderful friends such as Just a Girl and Homer-Dog, and it’s easy enough to conclude that the instant camaraderie felt was due to the fact that they knew me, the soul-laid-bare me, well beforehand.

On the other, I was completely rejected by PR Girl, who was, insofar as I can tell, disappointed that I wasn’t… something else.

* * *

All of this isn’t to say that I don’t think that things won’t change at some point. I’m certainly open to the possibility, even the hope, that someday life will be just like it was promised to me it would be on TV. And, as Homer Simpson says, TV never lies.

And I’m not so daft as to think that it’s going to happen by doing what I’m doing on this sunny Saturday afternoon: sitting alone in a camp chair under a bright blue sky, writing this while approximately six billion flies swarm around me thinking “GeekHiker: it’s what’s for dinner.”

I spent the day at a museum, picnicking in the mountains, and tonight I’ll be going home to watch a historical miniseries. The movie I was going to go see I’m skipping since the other party had to bail, and the extra 80 miles of driving don’t seem worth it to go solo.

I don’t think that spending a day as outlined above is everyone’s cup of tea. But why is it so difficult to find people for whom it is?

Maybe I’m just too geeky, given that just about anything has more appeal to me than dancing at a too-loud club on Sunset, or getting shit-faced at the local bar. And who the hell wants to go to a bar solo, anyway?

* * *

So what is the point of all this? I suppose just to get what I’ve been feeling out there, out of my system, even though I haven’t said exactly what it is. Of course I can’t say the actual word, that’s verboten in today’s society. Because if someone admits that they are that, then no one wants to hang out with them because obviously they’re not worth hanging out with in the first place.

Vicious circle, that.

For the most part, I don’t feel that way the vast, vast majority of the time anyway. It’s obvious from the trips and activities and such that I don’t spend all my time alone, and spending time alone isn’t something I generally have a problem with. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not the type of geek who’s attached to the computer 24-7. I don’t let it stop me from going to places I enjoy and doing the things that I love.

Someone asked me the other day if I felt lonely when I hike solo, and my honest response was “no”. In fact, I feel less lonely hiking through a forest by myself than I do just about anywhere else.

Part of the problem with this long post is that it probably sounds like I’m massively depressed or something of the sort. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s more of a melancholy feeling mixed with frustration. Melancholy at the feeling described above; frustration at the fact that my efforts to alleviate it have been vexed.

While posting it here isn’t a solution, to be sure, maybe venting it all from my mind is at least a good first step…



  1. I have so many things to say to this, I’m going to put them in an email instead of commenting here. But I will say this: My friend’s dad had kidney stones and we found out that coffee, spinach, chocolate and a variety of other things can exacerbate a certain type of them. So you might want to examine your diet in addition to all the water-drinking.

    As far as the friendship stuff goes, I’m emailing an essay to you, along with my phone number, in case you need a ride to the hospital.

  2. Like Mel Heth, I’m going to have to send you an email about this one. But one thing I can say, is that I’ve had one kidney stone. I was 21. I was in college. I had a date with Mr. Superfantastic to his fraternity ball that coming weekend. All my friends came to the hospital. Mr. Superfantasic did not. He took his ex-girlfriend. See, our stories are similar, they involve kidney stones and exes. Hee.

    But I hear you about friends. I’m going to send you a missive for you to peruse, proofread, and respond to. It will be slightly longer than the John Adams mini-series.

  3. I’m really glad that you had the courage to post this. Getting it all down on paper and out there in the world helps a little, doesn’t it?

    L.A. is a lonely place and I’m glad that you have met people through the blog. I had an experience of meeting someone who liked the blog me better than the real me, but people like that obviously arent worth your time.

    Keep writing!

  4. Okay, seriously. You’re really gonna need to stop swiping my material. It’s not nice.

    Your post sounds remarkably similar to the conversation I had with myself earlier today. Not the kidney stone part of the post (thankfully!) but the part about finding connections. Admittedly, I’ve been blessed with some pretty good friendships in each town I’ve lived in….but they’re all same-sex friends. I’ve been looking around lately, wondering how it is that I haven’t met “Him”. And when I start dissecting it, I come up with many of the same reasons you’ve discussed here. I’m not into the bar scene, etc. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that most of my time is spent either with teenagers (who I do NOT consider as “candidates”) or recuperating from spending time with teenagers (i.e. alone time). Either situation pretty much rules out the possibility of appearance of an appropriately-aged male. *shrug*

    I wish I knew what the freakin’ answer was. If you figure it out, could ya let me know?


  5. This is going to be weird but as soon as I started reading about the water I knew you had kidney stones. EVERYONE back at my old job has them (and they are all young too 28-34), I’m an expert.

    Also I wanted to let you know that I knew a few nurses and at least here in PR they do place bets with young guys. Unethical, but fun!

    I’m sorry (so very sorry) to hear you have no friends close right now, specially since you may need some help with that condition. I have to say that there was a time when I was in that same situation and the only one to blame was me. I didn’t wanted to give people the opportunity of a friendship, it was too much of a hassle, too much effort. Somewhere along the way I realized I was making an incredible amount of effort trying to keep people away, and I thought well, it’s hard anyway so why not turn this to the positive side? And I started opening myself up to others, taking some chances. I discovered that the worst thing that can happen is discovering that I don’t like somebody, or that they don’t like me, and then we can politely go on our own ways and that’s it. No one dies.
    But that’s just me. And I’m still pretty picky about making friends.

    I liked this post very much, many people go through this, they just don’t lay it out this good.

  6. You pretty much summed about all I’ve felt (minus the kidney stone incident) for the past few years, though much more eloquently than I probably could have.

    Despite the topic, a great post.

  7. It’s kind of strange. I read this post earlier today, and I had many reactions to it, but I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. But I’m kind of in a reflective mood (if you read my blog… I actually wrote something instead of pictures!… you’ll see. and thanks for the comments, btw :-)), so I am going to attempt to relate my thoughts to yours. Anyway, like I said… it’s kind of strange… I had a visit at the doctor yesterday, and so I had to fill out some paperwork since it was my first visit to this one. One of the questions it asks is “in case of emergency, contact…” or something like that. I always put my mom, and especially now since I just moved back home. But I honestly stopped for a second and thought about who I would put if it wasn’t my mom. I know who I would put, but then I thought about people who didn’t have anyone. I thought it was ironic to then read this post.

    I have more thoughts, particularly relating to friendship and relationships, but this is just a comment box, and not my own blog. 🙂 Basically, I can relate to the situation that you are in currently, but not how you got there. Does that make sense?

    Anyway… thanks for sharing this with us. 🙂

  8. You are gold GH.

    I’ve spent two significant chunks of time with you and was sad to leave both times. The fact that we had to turn the music off because we couldn’t shut up? Hilarious as we’d both wittered on about our respective shyness.

    Just so you know, even if one has a number of close friends the differences in lifestyle (ie. they are almost all married with children) can still leave one feeling the feeling you’ve written about.

    I’ve already blathered on in an email and you already have my number. Credit cards are for just these types of emergencies. Plus I’d get to drive the shiny vehicle… 😉

    Stay gold GH.

  9. The kidney stone portion of the post is pretty hilarious – just b.c it’s so tongue-in-cheek. But the second part …I think you did a very nice job of capturing the dilemma of the human condition. It’s a balancing act, between dual identities of self and not-self, no?

    As for dealing with that whole melancholy/frustrated sense; yeah it’s a fairly common response. Doesn’t make it more or less real (read: cruddy) for you. So take a deep breath, and count the number of supportive responses this post has generated. And then think about the number of people who make great go-tos for a new joke. It may seem fairly superficial, but what are friends besides people with whom one chooses to spend time (irl or online)?

  10. Well, you’ve certainly worked through the entire thought process and laid it all out here… that’s a huge feat.
    Online friends are easier because we can give and take in just a few minutes per day on our own schedule and out own terms. In person friendships require so much more coordination and timing and “chemistry.” I think chemistry and rapport are key even in platonic relationships – in person it is sometimes not there despite your best intentions. But online you may be able to banter but you’ll never know if you click – there’s no chemistry online.
    My closest friendships were formed at a time in life when we were all desperate for companionship and acceptance – college. As adults we’re so much “cooler” than that and we aren’t so fierce and persistent in our attempts to forge relationships. Sometimes because we already have what we need and other times because we’re exhausted, plain and simple.
    One thing you can do to make sure you have an “in case of” contact is to just be there for someone else first, before you ever need them. Close friend or not, take it upon yourself to do an important favor for someone – and you’ll be rewarded in unexpected ways, one of them being friendship.

  11. Great post. As we get older, our free time shrinks because of competing priorities and we not only have less time for friends sometimes, but are decidedly more picky about who those friends will be based soley on the fact that the free time is so precious. Make sense? I have a few aquaintances that I will lunch with as it does not rob me of time with my family but only one or two friends that I will make time for rather than be with my family. Its all part of growing up.

  12. I started carrying water bottles to remind myself to drink water– the requisite 1/2 your body weight in ounces would never happen without my little nalgene reminder (even if they do end up giving me cancer!).

    I not only get what you were saying about friendships (online and in ‘real’ life), but I think it is freaking cool that you blogged it. If I moved back to So Cal, you would be my BFF, especially since I am an AWESOME wing-woman!

    Online friends are easy to come by because that wall of shy-ness is down. You’re revealing stuff that you’d only put in a diary, partly because you know the blog-people will GET it. We’re a community of people without speaking-filters and we’re pretty freaking clever. I mean, I fell in love with Dingo after 1 post!!

    All you can ever be in ‘real’ life is you. Eventually the people who appreciate and love your geeky quirks, creativity, and kidney stone stories will find you. You’re doing the best thing you can do, which is to put yourself out there and not stay holed up in your computer.

  13. Okay, forget every rambling thing I said in my email, Charlotte Harris and Backpacker Momma just summed it up all quite nicely.

    thecoconutdiaries — *blush*

  14. I think as bloggers we all feel torn by the need to qualify the camaraderie we’ve found online. The lack of physical interaction can make things difficult.
    As far as meeting someone (be it friend or otherwise) I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If you’re half as charming/well spoken/funny in real life as you are online you have nothing to worry about. The waiting is the part that sucks.
    Sorry about the rambling response…I wish I was nearly as insightful and poetic as some of the people who have commented on your post. I think the best I can do is tell you to keep your chin up. You’ll get through.

  15. Some times, when I read your blog, I feeling like I’m reading about myself. Except for being so damn eloquent, this post could have been written by the pre-wife me.

    I have to agree with JaG. Even though I have friends now, I still fell a little friendless. Except for my blog friends, all my friends are parasitic friends – i.e. I glom on to my Wife’s friends. Before the Wife all my friends were occupation friends – i.e. school or work friendships that ended at the end of the class or workday.

    Thank you for posting the truth about most of us. Now we don’t have to.

  16. Wow, except for the kidney stones, you’ve pretty much summed up my life. Slowly over the years, my family has moved (or died off) until I was left with just my uncle living 10 minutes away. Well he picked up and moved half way across the country a few months ago. It left me wondering who I was going to turn to if there was some kind of emergency. Just like you, I’ve got friends, but not any close friends that I could really feel comfortable with relying on. I also wish I had just a buddy to hang out with, to call up at the last minute and say, “hey, wanna see a movie tonight?” Everyone tells me the same thing too, about living in LA and how difficult it is to have “proper, real, whatever” friendships.

    I also find it difficult to come out of my shell and am quite nervous to meet people in real life that I’ve already met in cyberspace. I feel like they are going to be so disappointed when they see me and that I’m not going to be the person they wanted me to be. It’s odd that I should feel so insecure because I get along great with people at work, in my social circles, etc. I know I should gain more confidence in myself and well, I’m trying. And maybe one day I’ll be successful at that.

    I know you know you’re not the only one out there that feels this way, but I felt the need to share my thoughts and experiences too, just because. And to let you know that you have one more cyberspace friend out there who totally agrees and sympathizes with your situation.

  17. Hello all – Thank you for your wonderful comments. You’ll find my responses to each on the next post…

  18. Found this post via your recent Halloween post and can’t help commenting. I just want to say I completely get how you felt about not having someone to call when you needed to go to a surgery. I recently went through a similar experience. Luckily I told a coworker about my impending surgery, without expecting anything, as she wasn’t exactly the kind of friend that I thought I could call for this favor. I even thought about calling a taxi. Guess what, she offered to be the driver and on-call person. A month later, she went through a major surgery too and I helped her in turn (in other ways as she had a driver).

    We became very close friends after this. I guess my point is: 1) be open about sharing (as long as you are comfortable about it) with even “acquaintances” because you never know how true friendship develops, quite unexpectedly, through the give and take of help; 2) you are not alone in feeling/being lonely. My aforementioned friend has lived in this town for almost 20 years, and she confessed that she has fewer than 5 “real friends”, and interestingly, me being one of them. She is very social, goes to her synagogue regularly, is active in local activities (arts, crafts, films, etc.), but even she complains about not having as many friends as she wants. I guess it’s just a sign of the times. I am about your age, moved here (not LA) three years ago, not into clubbing, don’t go to churches, so even though at work I am surrounded by people, my relationships with them are almost always cordial but shallow. So far she is the only “I can call in case of emergency” kind of friend, and she is almost 20 years older than I am. I have “acquaintances” around my age, but everybody is so involved with their own life that it’s very hard to establish, esp., maintain a budding relationship. A good relationship, friendship or romance, requires quite a bit of work (time, patience, generosity) for people our age. Anyway, just to commiserate…

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