There are few things that interest me less than figure-skating, mostly because I’m not into twelve year old camel-toe. But because Russian skater/drug-cheat Kamila Valieva (whose dromedary is 15 years of age) is dominating the news, I happened to read an interview with her coach, Eteri Tutberidze.
Speaking of her time in America, the very scary owl-like Tutberidze says “I could not understand: everyone is smiling, but in fact everyone doesn’t care about you. I couldn’t get used to it. In Russia we either smile or do not notice each other at all. I think it’s more honest.”
Which made me think.
We’re experiencing a loneliness epidemic. As in, medically-significant loneliness of epic proportions.
Psychology Today examines the case of a German who, a decade after making the US her home, still found Americans superficial: “No deep friendships. People form and dissolve relationships too easily. You don’t know if you can really trust people.”
In Australia, we call total strangers ‘mate’ by default — but not because we like or accept them! One migrant describes being “marooned on this desert island hellhole” while another describes Sydney as “very cliquey. Very hard to get in if you’re not ‘their’ type of people.”
BTW never met that guy.
I recall a comment from Humans of New York, that “Everyone is friendly, but nobody wants to be friends“. The chasm between ‘acquaintance’ and ‘friend’ perplexes me, but maybe it’s as simple as this Aussie expat in London found: “most of these people already have friends and don’t need any more“.
Aha! A clue?
My phase of life makes it doubly difficult.
You’re fighting them off in your tweens, but in your fifties? I guess the underlying assumption is that you’ve sorted it by then. But I’ve moved capital cities three times. Our social circles become fixed, family commitments expand, discretionary time shrinks.
Making friends now is hard work.
Sure, it can be done even at 50 no doubt, but at that age you conduct cost/benefit analyses for anything new, including relationships. Are they worth the effort? I’d need persuading that I need anyone else in my life right now.
But need is not want, and I am also cognizant of the difference between loneliness and solitude. To have some chattering fuck-knuckle ruining the serenity of a wilderness hike, for example, means the cost is too high.
So, where to find a friend who only talks when I want them to?
Yes, yes I know — it’s not you, it’s me. Answer: “The reason I don’t have friends isn’t because other people don’t try, it’s because I push them away.”
Which means this whole fucking post was rhetorical.