August and I hung out with an old college friend of mine, his wife, and their seven-year-old daughter last week. I was really nervous about August meeting my friend and his family because, as you know, you can’t predict the mood of a four-year-old. Luckily it was a great day. We showed his daughter San Francisco, and the two kids really enjoyed playing and talking with each other. By the end of the day, August turned to each one of them individually and asked, “Do you want to be friends?”. Each one of them in turn agreed quite willingly to be his friend, and a smile swept across August’s face. He had made three new friends, just like that.
The next day we went to our grocery store, and it was not our usual butcher that juggles for August. When the new butcher came over to help us get some meat, August asked him “Do you want to be friends?”. The butcher replied, “Sure. Why not?”. August responded with, “Okay, then we’ll be friends.” And a smile swept across August’s face again.
Brent and I have lived in San Francisco for eight years and I think I can count on one hand the number of friends we have made. So what I’m wondering is maybe I should start taking August’s approach? Why does it have to be so difficult? Why do we as adults have to suss out a person before deciding whether they are worthy of being our friends? As four-year-olds we just want someone to play with and talk to, and maybe that should be enough? As college-aged people, we just want someone to study and drink with. But once college is over making friends becomes incredibly difficult. Or at least I thought it was until I started watching August do it. He does it with such ease, and he even seems happy with the results. I’ve never once heard him say, “Man, I wish I never became friends with that person.”
So maybe the reason why we haven’t made more friends in San Francisco is because we’re trying too hard, or maybe we’re not trying hard enough? After all, I’ve never tried the line “Do you want to be friends?” before.