Lessons For The Single, Unwed, or Childless Friend
The only way I could hang out with my best friend of 15 years tonight was if I went with him to his little girl’s school recital. There was a time in my life when I would have told him to just call me after the recital was done, but tonight I agreed. I’m home until December 30. There are plenty of nights him and I can get drinks, flirt with women, and talk about the world using an unnecessary amount of expletives, so yeah, scheduling, there’s that; but that’s not why I accepted the invitation.
My boy didn’t have to invite me to his daughter’s concert, but he did. The gesture was a testament to how we’re more like brothers than friends. You should have heard the way he asked, like he was inviting me to come watch a game with him or some other customary fellowship in which men partake. I didn’t find it unusual, but I knew it was. The last time we were hanging out at school concerts, we were performing in them.
In addition to my best friend, my married best friends just had child number two, a beautiful girl. While I’m home, I’m going to see them and my new Goddaughter. All around me, my friends are living new lives, which means to some extent, I am too.
People may not say it out loud, but nothing challenges life-long friendships like children, marriage, or new relationships. Some friends are fortunate to find themselves doing any one of these things within the same window of time as one another, but most of us fare like this:
A friend of ours is shopping for baby formula while we’re still shopping for contraceptives. They’re ring shopping, we’re waiting for our phone to ring. They’re on date number 300 with the same person, we’re on date number one for the 300th time.
These things tear friends apart and sometimes, we the single, we the unwed, we the childless, have only ourselves to blame.
I remember when my boy told me he was having a child, just a couple of weeks after I came back from visiting home. During that visit, we went out nearly every night, living life as bachelors and wanting it to end never. When he told me he was having a baby, I could have sworn those nights were gone for good.
Some of us are so convinced kids, marriage, boyfriends and girlfriends, change our friends, sometimes to the point where we change on our friends. Now when we go out, we invite our other childless, single friends, and don’t even think to invite the married friend or the friend with kids. After I told one of my other friends who is married about a night our group went out sans him, he half-jokingly said, “I guess when you’re married, you stop getting the calls to go out.”
He had a point. The married folk, the parent folk, the relationship folk, they may not go out like they used to, but us single folk don’t call them to go out like we used to either.
Every year I invite my boy here in California to meet me in New Orleans to attend Essence Music Festival with me and my other boys from college. Every year he declines because it falls on a weekend he has with his daughter.
I plan on going to Essence Fest again next year. Of course, I will extend the invitation to my friend in California again, because over the years, it’s become an important way for me to spend time with my important friends (for those who think they know why, click here to kill that noise). Chances are he will decline, but still I ask. Just because he has a child and I don’t, doesn’t mean I pander to those differences by not inviting him to trips like Essence Fest. It also means, I don’t decline his invitations to things like kindergarten school concerts.
When I called my boy to tell him I landed back home and to put together some plans to kick it, going with him to his daughter’s holiday concert was hardly what I had in mind. But I’m glad he invited me and I’m glad I didn’t take it as some joke and tell him to meet up with me afterward. Seeing my friends be parents or be married is actually awesome. I may not be ready to be either of these, but I’m more than happy to be there for and spend time with my friends who are.