Friendship used to be a source of some angst for me a few years ago. Moving to Hong Kong cut me off from being in the same place as my closest friends. Even when I had been in Hong Kong for a couple of years, I felt that my closest friends, the people who I could have heart-to-hearts with and could really count on, were back in India. It was one of the reasons maybe that I came across to people as disliking Hong Kong (which was not really the case), because I felt that a very strong allegiance was always in India.
Now, I’m over that. I don’t have the time to have a large friends’ circle, I don’t even particularly enjoy having a large friends’ circle. I need a couple of good friends and that’s it. In Hong Kong, currently I have one. In India, I have two. And then there are a number of people sprinkled around the globe in a secondary circle, people I feel affection for and who I know feel affection for me, and who will lend a hand if I reach to them (but what differentiates them from the first circles is the ease at which I would reach out and the reliability of their response. And that’s my definition of close friendship, I guess.)
Curly recently asked me how many friends I’ve made since college who have stood the test of time. While my count isn’t large, and only one of those people is in the same city as me, I’ve stopped feeling weird about it. I’ve also realised that having a network I can lunch with or chat to now and then is good enough for me.
Last week, I met some new people. It’s very easy to meet new people in Hong Kong because of the floating expatriate population. But I realised I’m not very interested in meeting new people. When the friend I was with mentioned other people would be joining us, I was tempted to make an excuse and flee. The new people arrived and they were nice enough. Only they were so…new. They said the things that new people in Hong Kong say. They were clueless about the issues facing Hong Kong. I found I was bored, though not annoyed which is progress, I suppose. I had a couple of drinks and left.
Yesterday, I got in touch with someone in my network in Hong Kong as I needed some information from her. I’ve actually met her only a couple of times, but liked her, and even put her in touch with my former office for a part-time job. She asked if I’d like to meet up, and I said yes though we figured we’d do it when I started the PhD so that our timings matched better. I have a couple of people like her that I like enough to meet sporadically.
It’s very possible that having kids makes this lack of angst possible, and I’d be much more angsty about being social if I actually had the bandwidth for it. But I also realised that it that maybe I feel the need to have an available bunch of friends on principle (because not having that would make me a weird person, or I’d regret it with I was sad and alone one day) than because I really need them. It may be possible to do be down to one or two or sometimes no friends in one’s immediate vicinity and to be just fine.