When I moved from New York City to Chicago to live with my boyfriend, now husband, I knew I was making sacrifices. I was leaving a great job at a glossy magazine, my immediate family and 24-hour delis on every corner. I was also, I knew, leaving most of my friends. But I wasn't moving to Podunk. The third-largest city in the United States would certainly be teeming with down-to-earth, closet Us Weekly–reading, McDreamy-loving, book club–obsessed women like me. I could find my new best friends at yoga class, in the aisles of Barnes & Noble, maybe even at the grocery store—how hard could it be?
Very, apparently. What I learned, too quickly, is that friend-making is not the natural process it was back when we made friends in the sandbox, or even the dorm room. As it turns out, I've completely forgotten how to do it. I'm too shy to approach a potential BFF at Barnes & Noble just because she too is caressing The Things They Carried. The ladies at yoga class already know each other and, for a discipline all about nonjudgment, seem oddly unapproachable. I'm not a mommy, and won't be for years, so I can count out the Mommy & Me classes that are so obviously more for the "mommy" than the "me."
It's not for lack of trying. Take yoga. One day, after a grueling session of chaturangas, the girl on the mat next to me introduced herself. "I'm Zoe. What's your name again?" (The teacher had inexplicably called me Carrie). Someone was trying to pick me up! I got ready to woo her in return.
"Are you Jewish?" My name and my curls usually give this away.
"Cool. Me too. Shalom!"
Did she really delve into religion before we'd even exchanged last names? If that was her pickup line, Zoe's even worse at this than I am. I crossed her off the mental list of potential BFFs. I haven't created an inventory of things my best friend forever would never do, but if I did, I'm pretty sure delivering religious greetings upon first meeting would be up there.
What is a best friend?
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