Tag Archive | friends

Rant About How Tough It Is to Make New Friends

I’ve always had a lot more difficulties making friends here in southern Spain than in Barcelona or Madrid. Everyone thinks it must be easy to make friends here because southern Spaniards appear very friendly and open. But that is only superficial appearance. In fact my impression is that southern Spaniards are much more closed minded (in general and also when it comes to making friends) than people from Madrid or Barcelona. Or maybe it’s just cultural differences, but I’m from a place where you don’t make friends the same way people do here.

Red Flowers for Friendships in a Field

I made a ton of friends when I lived in Madrid, unfortunately I didn’t keep in touch with most of them when I left. Those were the days before email and Facebook, and people’s phone numbers (landlines, because those were also the days before mobile phones) change and they move. But I’m still really good friends with some friends from Barcelona. I found it easier to make friends in Barcelona than here in southern Spain.

Once someone who had lived in France, who said she’d lived in France for many years (she was American), said that in France people have 3 groups of friends: childhood friends, usually from the same elementary school they went to, high school friends and university friends. Once people got out of university, they lost interest in making friends and if you wanted to be their friend, they didn’t. I find here in southern Spain it’s very similar.

Most people here have lived here all their lives and they only hang out with people they’ve known all their lives and grown up with. They are very friendly, they’ll chat with you for a long time. But then after that they are not interested in taking the relationship any further. They don’t want to hang out with you, they want to hang out with the kids who went to grade 2 with them. They don’t want to go to the bar with you, they want to go to the bar with their circle of friends from university.

Some people are very open and not in the least bit shy, like my friend Maria*. And even she can’t make new friends. All her friends are people she’s known in elementary and high school. Which is a major problem for her, because in high school she hung out with the drug addict crowd, and most of them are still on drugs today. She is not on drugs but you know what it’s like to have a friendship with someone who is on drugs: violent behaviour, unreliability (they say they’ll meet her tomorrow at 11 and they don’t show), you can’t count on them (they say they’ll introduce her to someone who is looking for a receptionist and then they forget and the person hires someone else) and worst of all they pressure her to take drugs again.

She’s tried over and over again to get away from them, because she knows they are no good for her and she knows they only use her. As in, let’s go out tonight. But then they only wanted to go out with her to try and get her to take drugs. But when she really needs someone, for example she needs someone to pick her son up from school, all of a sudden they are not available.

She can’t live in Marbella, her hometown, because every time she is in Marbella all her old druggie friends drop by and try to turn her house into a drug den. So she keeps moving away. But then she can’t find a job anywhere else, or she has a family emergency and needs to return to her family in Marbella, and she just can’t get away. But when she does move away, she can’t make any new friends. And she’s the least shy person I know. I mean, she could sell air conditioners to an Inuit person.

Marbella Street With Flowers

In Barcelona, there are a lot of outsiders, it’s a big city, new people are constantly going there for different reasons. For work, or to go to the university or to study something else (not university). Or for personal reasons. So there are tons of people who didn’t grow up in Barcelona and don’t have a circle of childhood friends there, so there are tons of clubs there to meet people. So it’s easy to meet people and make friends in Barcelona.

But here in Malaga there are hardly any clubs. I asked someone once, let’s say you want to make a hiking club, or a sewing club, how do you do it here? And they told me, you ask your childhood friends if they know someone or if they know someone who knows someone who likes to go hiking, and you go hiking together. In Barcelona, you join a hiking club. Here, you ask your childhood friends if they want to go hiking with you. That’s just the way it works here.

Which really sucks for those of us who didn’t spend our childhood here!!!

I met a lot of people in Barcelona by going to meetings of things that I was interested in, or even just with classified ads. That’s how I met my great friend Pippi* and my friend Morche* and my former friend Enid* (we fought because she became a radical vegetarian and stopped having any contact with people who were not vegetarian).

But I just can’t seem to meet anyone this way here in Malaga. In fact I couldn’t meet anyone in Almeria either, things work there the same way as here, as Almeria is also southern Spain.

I met my friend Jessica* at a secretarial course we took together once. During the course many of us hung out together but once the course ended most just simply kept making excuses for not meeting up again, and finally they just simply stopped having contact with other people from the course. Only Jessica continues to be my friend. I met a few people at a hotel entertainers’ course too, but I’ve changed a great deal since taking that course and we just drifted apart due to having very different interests.

Also people who have never worked before are hard to make friends with, which was the majority of the people at the hotel entertainers’ course. It’s just impossible to get on with people who have never worked before. My friend Lucinda*, from the course, who had never worked before, told me things like, why are you so worried about being able to pay the water/electricity/phone bill? It’s only a few cents, right? And if you can’t pay them, just go back and live with your mami and daddy like I do, or get them to pay your bills for you.

Lucinda is over 30, has never had a job and has lived with her mother all her life. Now, I’m in favour of kids living with their parents, I want my kids to live with me. But I still also want them to work. And to know what life is like and that you have to pay the bills and that mami and daddy aren’t always going to bail you out. Or at least not at age 30.

And I’m just finding it a bit hard to jive with someone who at the age of thirty-something has never paid a bill in her life or had to run to get to work on time. I dunno, somehow I just can’t.

Oh by the way Lucinda is not disabled in any way, neither physically nor mentally.

Another example: one year I subscribed to the blog of a makeup blogger, and I also joined her Facebook group. So I chatted on the group for a while, and commented on her blog for a while. But then one day she organized what was supposedly an open party at her house (she lives in Malaga) and on her Facebook she said, Hey girls come on come join the fun, come to my party! Bring some drinks and your bikini cos we’re all gonna jump into my pool. Leave a comment below if you want to come. So of course I commented too and said I’d like to go. She answered my comment (on Facebook) and said, I’m sorry Serena but this party is only for my personal friends, that is, followers of my blog who are also my personal friends, I thought it was clear and understood. I wanted to say, well if it was only for your personal friends why did you announce it on your open, public Facebook group that I’m a member of?

So you see, here people make a very clear distinction between FRIENDS (ie. people they have known all their lives and probably went to the nursery with) and friends with tiny little letters (ie. people they’ve chatted to online or maybe even met in person, but meeting someone in person and having a good time with them doesn’t make you their friend).

I dunno maybe it’s that way everywhere, I’m not like that though. For me, you are my friend if I have met you a few times and we got on great. I don’t need to have known you for 30 years to admit you into my circle of friends. You don’t have to save my life to prove your loyalty and honesty to me before I will admit you into my circle of friends. But other people don’t agree with me. And I’ll admit there aren’t too many people in my life whom I’ve known for 30 years or whose life I have saved haha.

I always think it’s so hard for me to make friends cos I’m so shy, I’m too shy to just come right out with someone I just met and just say, hey I really enjoyed chatting with you, you wanna meet up again for coffee sometime?

But Maria is the least shy person I know and she can’t make new friends either, only her old druggie ones. (Although I admit she would probably not be pleased with me referring to her old lifelong friends as “druggies”.)

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So how about you? Got any suggestions as to how a shy, wall violet like me might make new friends? Please leave me a comment. As you know I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

*not their real names

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

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Best Friends

Today I was sitting around thinking about my good friend in Madrid, let’s call her Lana (not her real name). For years, when I lived in Madrid, we were inseparable.

Inseparable Friends Peace Sign

Lana and I are still in touch. But it’s not the same anymore.

When I lived in Madrid and she was single, she was a real rebel. Heavy metallist, rebellious, anti-conventionality. It’s ironic that now she follows all the conventions and all the things that people expect of her.

We met in the choir. Both of us sang in a choir. We hit it off right away and soon became fast friends.

We were both wild and rebellious, both of us a lot in character like George of the Famous Five, except we had – and still continue to proudly sport – long hair. The difference between us is that whereas I’m quite shy and diffident around people, especially people I don’t know well, Lana is very talkative.

I thought about all the things we’d done together, so many fun experiences we’d shared. Going home one night after a night out clubbing, at 3 in the morning, we decided to start howling like a bunch of cats in heat, waking up the neighbours.

Going to visit an apiary, that is, a bee farm, with a friend of hers. On a hiking trip to observe vultures. Like me, at that time she was very much into hiking, and we often went on hikes together.

Climbing into a water ride at the amusement park one hot summer day, two mischievous little urchins in the same boat with us thought it would be fun to throw water at us. We threw water back, and soon it was all we were doing the whole ride long. We went on that ride I think it was about eleven times with those same two mischievous urchins and had a blast.

Another time we went to a field that was off limits. One of those private properties where trespassing is forbidden. There was a very high fence around it to prevent people from jumping in. We wanted to play in that field. Not because we especially wanted to play in a field – although we did, and it was a very large field – but mainly because it WAS forbidden. On that occasion we went with our friend, the boy I would one day marry haha.

We were absolutely DETERMINED to get into that field come hell or high water. My boyfriend gave us a boost up onto the top of the wire fence. We reached down and pulled him up. So far, excellent.

The problem came when we went to jump down. The shirt I was wearing got snagged on the fence, ripping off half the hem when I jumped down. Unphased, we continued into the field and carried on playing. I don’t remember what we were playing now. Some kind of ball game, maybe?

When we tired of playing and it was time to climb out, this time it was Lana who got snagged on the sharp, poking-out wires of the fence. In her case, it was her jeans. The wire poked a hole in her jeans. However, jeans are sturdier than shirts, and neither was she able to rip herself off the fence, nor could she disengage herself or unhook her jeans from the wire.

She couldn’t simply jump or pull herself down, because then the wire would have gouged into her skin. In the end, we don’t know what she did, but she had to extricate herself from the wire all by herself because we couldn’t get back up again.

I remember one hiking trip in particular. We planned to go with a good friend of hers, Elena. In those days Lana had the bad habit of always arriving very, very late. This was in those times before mobile phones.

Anyways, we were going to meet up at Chamartin train station. Elena arrived, and we started spinning about the station in search of Lana. Aware of her tendency to arrive late, we didn’t give up when she still hadn’t shown her face after we’d been combing the station for a long time.

At last, we both saw her get off the escalators looking like a scarecrow, with wild eyes and swivelling her head in all directions. It was so late, she was convinced that Elena and I for sure must have taken off without her. Of course, being loyal friends, we hadn’t. We grabbed a train to some mountains north of Madrid, whose name I’ve now forgotten. But they are well-known and people often go hiking there. Gredos, I think.

There were a lot of people on the same trail we were on. We walked to the end of the trail, where lots of people had set things up and were playing, eating and just generally having a good time. I believe there was a lake there as well. All of a sudden it started to rain – one of those unexpected, unpredictable mountain storms. All the people started taking off down the trail.

It was quite a long trail. We were perhaps halfway down the trail, when Lana suddenly realized that she had forgotten something in the clearing where we had been playing. We had to trek all the way back, in the rain, to retrieve the lost object. This time when we turned around to go back, the mountain was completely deserted.

After what seemed a veritable odyssey, we finally straggled back into town. We were starving. We had packed a picnic and we wanted to eat. But of course, there was no way we could have a picnic in the rain. We didn’t know where to go.

At that point, we noticed a building that was in construction. It was halfway built. It had floors and stairways, sustaining columns. And most importantly, it had a roof!! That was all that mattered to us! Within seconds, we were rushing up the stairs to the second floor (for greater privacy haha). We plunked down onto the floor, relieved to finally find shelter from the cold rain after what must have been hours, and enjoyed our picnic with numb, blue fingers. It was just a silly thing, perhaps, but I remember we didn’t stop joking and laughing all the way.

With Lana I travelled to Granada, Cuenca, the Alpujarra, Morocco. We had a blast in Morocco. At that time, her family lived in the compound of the Spanish consulate in Tangiers, and I spent several days there. We also took the train to Larache.

We wanted to go to the beach in Larache. But unlike in Europe, it’s impossible to go to the beach in Morocco and even less so if you are two young girls. In Morocco, just the fact that you have long hair and wear a skirt, and especially if you are unaccompanied by adult males (although the presence of adult males is hardly a deterrent), is enough to draw in all the Moroccan men as if you were, well, some sort of rare prize or something.

So we had to defer on our beach plans. But even so, we had a great time together in Morocco. I remember going to the souk with Lana’s mother, and eating pistachio ice-cream. Mmmhh.

Today Lana is married, with two kids, like me (except I’m not married, of course!), and we live our separate lives in cities more than 500 km apart. We still chat via WhatsApp. She’s no longer a rebel, commutes two hours a day to get to work, gives her kids communions and attends all her and her hubby’s family events: baptisms, weddings, engagement parties……

She no longer goes out hiking or for walks in the country. They very rarely even go on holiday. She never travels, except to the family home on the beach.

I wish she lived here in Malaga, near me.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

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How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

I was really down today because of…… friends! Not the inseparable kind, or the ones that are always there when you need them.

Today, I was really feeling down because of friends who don’t value friendship a whole great deal.

Optical Illusion Faces

I don’t know about you, but for me, a friendship is sacred. I think a friendship is, well should be, as important in life as family, more important even than a job, or your hobbies. I mean, after all, a friend is a PERSON. A job or a hobby are just things. And if you ever lose your job, well, you can always find another one.

But a friend? If you lose your friend, sure, you can go out and get another one.

But it won’t be the SAME friend. It won’t be that same person that you shared so many memories with, and had so many good times and laughed together with for so many years.

I’m finding that three things REALLY get in the way of a friendship: religion, politics and money. No surprise there, I guess.

Now, fortunately, I don’t tend to air my political views (if I even have any haha! I am really the queen of a-political thought! Most of the time I don’t even know who is ruling the country at any given moment……) a whole lot and therefore never have disputes with friends on that issue.

But now, religion, that’s a whole different bag of jumping jacks (or however that expression goes, after all after 15+ years living in a non-English-speaking country, I just can’t quite put my finger on the proper expression anymore).

Now, by religion, I don’t mean only the usual, established, traditional, centuries-old schools of philosophical and mystical thought generally referred to as religion such as Catholicism, Christianity, Buddhism, etc., to name a few. For me, religion is anything that a person is fanatical about. It might be your diet, a sect, a guru or even a fashion trend or brand name, for that matter.

I have two friends who consider their “religion” above anything else in the world. More important than friendship, more important than family, more important than their sentimental partner. Even more important than love.

One of them is a radical vegetarian. By radical, I mean that not only are she and her family very strict vegetarians, but also that in order to be her friend, you must also be a strict vegetarian. You cannot eat meat in her presence or feed meat to your children in front of her children.

Of course, being vegetarian is more than just food or diet. It’s a way of life. Therefore, her children can’t eat with other children if they are eating meat. They cannot attend fun events if other children will be eating meat there. She will travel half-way across the country in order to acquire certain exotic, hard-to-get vegetarian items, instead of for example spending that time going out with her family, or doing something to improve her mind or her character or even, for that matter, just relaxing around the poolside after a long, hard day of work.

No, after a long, hard day of work, she will happily get into her car and drive several hours across the countryside in order to go to a certain health food shop where she has heard that certain exotic vegetarian items can be found.

Now, I do admit, living in Spain is like living in Beeflandia and vegetarians here are about as scarce as blue fleas (a Spanish expression). But, well, personally, if I can’t find a certain vegetarian item within a certain radius of my home (let’s say, four blocks, for example), well, I prefer to just do without and find a substitute instead.

Now, I am not against vegetarianism, and I’m certainly not anti-vegetarian. Not by a long shot, I actually support it. However, I prefer to spend my time improving myself (and I can assure you there’s a lot to improve haha!), doing exercise or playing with my kids, rather than driving across the country in a car.

Long hairAnd of course, it’s hard to be friends with someone who is a radical vegetarian. It is very easy to offend such a person: if you feed your kids meat in front of hers, if you eat meat in her presence, if you don’t recycle (or you forget to do so sometimes and just toss your tin can into the general garbage bag), if your showers are too long (tsk tsk tsk, wasting water there! but come on, girls, I’ve got waist-long hair, if you have ever had waist-long hair, you must know what a pain it is to get all that gunk like shampoo and conditioner through all of it and out of it, and it’s not something that you can accomplish with just one little bucket of water……).

For that matter, if you don’t get up at the crack of dawn (you know, the early bird catches the worm and all that stuff) or go to bed when the birds do, if you prefer to read at night (like me) rather than have a heart-to-heart with your pillow at that hour, if you want to participate in an event where meat-eaters will be present, if you…… Well, you get the message. Very easy to take offense.

I have another friend who is a radical follower of a sect. Now, I totally respect her religious beliefs and preferences. However, she is often sending me religious propaganda, literally besieging me with it. She says it is “good for my soul”, and I need it. She says I can follow whatever religious beliefs I want (or none, if I prefer), but that I know deep down inside that her religion is “calling me”.

I finally got sick of that one day and tried to very tactfully suggest to her that, well, not everyone has the time or the interest to read her fifty million religious sermons that she sends to me all the time.

Of course, the predictable result: she felt offended. She’s one of those people who will smile charmingly at you as they throw spiked arrows, so she didn’t down and out get all huffed up and scream insults or whatever at me.

No, she just smiled and suggested that, well, if I had so little time and interest in her interests, perhaps she wouldn’t have the time or the interest to pay attention to my interests and any news that I might have to share about my life, either.

Well, it’s not like I spend my life beating her on the head exactly with news about my life, or battering her continuously with banter about my interests. But, well, supposedly we’re friends, and friends do every once in a while like to tell their friends about what’s going on in their lives. Don’t you think?

I’m quite a private and reserved person, I don’t like to talk about my life a lot. (And you can see this most clearly from the very sparse and much too widely-spaced contributions that I’ve been, ahem, ah, sort of contributing to this blog lately. Oops……) But occasionally, I do like to send her a little “tweet” about my latest.

And of course, since she is my friend, I do expect her to read it and at least show a slight interest in it. I don’t bombard her with religious messages. I don’t bombard her with any sort of message, for that matter.

But when I do send her a message, I kind of expect her to notice it.

Well, so much for fanatical friends. Now, I want to gripe about a different kind of friendship breaker: the big M word…… Yes, MONEY!

I lent 15€ to a friend about a month ago, so she could buy herself a bikini. (Not that she needed it, she already owns about 50, but then again, it’s a free country and everyone can buy what they like…… although preferably with their OWN money!)

Now, I’m not in a hurry for her to pay me back, although it WOULD be nice if she would pay me back SOME TIME!

However, the thing is, ever since I lent her the money, she has been avoiding me like the plague. There’s no way I can get to see her anymore. She won’t go to the beach with me anymore, she won’t go out for a coffee, she won’t get together with me to walk around…… And all because, I suppose, she hasn’t got the money to pay me back. (Or doesn’t want to pay me back.)

Does she really think a friendship is worth less than 15€ to her, or to me?

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