If I was analyzing the tone of last week, I’d have to say that February got off to a bit of a frustrating and self-pitying start, at least on the social scene.
Nick’s been out of town and I thought, great! I’ll make the most of this time to myself to get myself together, get some work done, and focus on things I never seem to have enough time for when we’re together.
I’m a perfectly happy solitary person. I can entertain myself well, and would even go so far as to say I am a better person to be around when I have some alone time now and again to reflect and re-energize.
However, it dawned on me this week that I haven’t really solidly established my own group of friends yet. Not that I haven’t met a lot of great people – I have! But, as I have painfully learned from my years of travel and transplanting to new places, it takes a long time to really find your niche.
There are a couple of reasons I’m not really feeling connected yet. First off, many of the people that I met when we first got here or on my previous trips to South Africa are friends of Nick’s, and most of them live in Somerset West. While SW isn’t actually that far (only 40 minutes of straight freeway driving), it isn’t that close, either. People will come through for a special event or occasion, but it requires a bit more planning and the trip usually isn’t in the cards just for a random drink or to grab a bite to eat.
Second, a good number of the fabulous people I’ve met have small children and live far away. I love kids, don’t get me wrong, but trying to balance work, the schedule of a busy 10 month old and their own relationships doesn’t leave a lot of time for just hanging out! I try to get out to their place and visit as much as I can, but again they just don’t have the time or flexibility to meet up for a random show on a weeknight, which I totally understand.
Third, people tend to spend their whole lives in Cape Town. It is that great of a place, I guess! But that means that they have very well-established social networks, and even when you meet awesome people you have to try and slot into their already packed social lives. I’m sure there are a lot of transplants out there who are also looking to meet people, but so far I haven’t met many.
Lastly, I haven’t been nearly as good as I should be in capitalizing on those “we should totally hang out!” conversations you have around a bar or braai. Apparently Cape Town is notoriously bad on this front, but I also take the blame. In addition to getting really burned out on work over the past few years, I think I also burned out on the making new friends front. While it was great that there were a lot of expats around to befriend, it definitely gets hard to be in such a transient community as the development world tends to be. You meet great people, but everyone is there temporarily, whether that means 6 months or 2 years. There was always a going away party for someone, and you had to make new friends constantly as others left. It gets tiring.
Normally I have so much going on, not to mention Nick to fall back on, that I hardly notice. But I think it strikes you most when you’re heading home with take-out Thai on a Friday night to a date with your couch and the tv and you see a group of friends out on their patio having a braai. Or when you see a show that you’re just dying to see or a restaurant you really want to try, and you can’t think of anyone you could ask to join you! Sigh. I know it will get better, and that it just takes time, I just have to keep telling myself that.