• Chris Francisco

Making friends

One of the most difficult things about this move has been the reality that we wouldn't know a soul here upon arriving. But, considering the excitement and optimism that we had about the move before we left, we both kept saying "ehh, it'll be fine - we'll meet people! We're nice! And we met great people in Atlanta, look how that worked out!"

Its proven to be a bit tougher than we expected, for a lot of reasons. And, as many of you know, making new friends when you're in your 40s is not easy. Most people in our age range have already started a family (one with human and not feline children), which obviously limits their availability. And even if they are looking for friends, they're likely to find them by way of their children's friends' parents.

So why not single people, you ask? Simple: single people in our age demo are often looking for a mate, not a friend. They don't want to spend their valuable time getting coffee or dinner with married people when they could be dating (or trying to date). We can't even offer any single friends to set them up with. I know I'm generalizing here, and there are, of course, exceptions to this, but it's a thing.

In general, are people our age even looking for new friends? Sometimes it's hard to tell.

Where does that leave us? Well, we've slowly but surely been making some efforts. It's not easy, and it's a lot like dating, which neither of us has done in many years. And neither of us are exactly plugged into any social or activity circles (we aren't really "activity" people), so we've had to take action in other ways.

For me, I've been doing it the old fashioned way: face to face. I've made one acquaintance through the French class I took recently, and we've met up a few times for coffee. Are we going to become lifelong friends? I don't know, but so what? It helps to feel like I "know" someone here, even if they're just a person to chat and have coffee with every so often. I've also hung out a couple times with a guy I met on a bass guitar forum, and it was cool to chat about gear and music. I'm definitely making efforts when I can, even when they're outside my comfort zone.

As for Marny, it's been a bit tougher for her. Her job hasn't yet yielded any potential friends, and her French class doesn't seem to be the best option for that either. A couple weeks ago, she decided to use the friend-matching feature on Bumble (a popular dating app) to try and meet some people. She ended up chatting with another U.S expat (her husband got a job here), and they're supposed to meet up next weekend. So fingers crossed that it goes well. I tried to use Bumble, but there were only about 10 guys who came up in search results. And they all felt compelled to use pics taken in the gym. Guys are the worst.

We also attended a cocktail party type thing hosted by a website called Internations. It's designed for expats from all countries who find themselves in a new city. The event was nice, but it wasn't really our thing. You show up, check in, get a name tag, and get released upon the room to chat with a crowd of people you've never met. Some people are good at that sort of thing, but it was a bit awkward. We left early and got pizza next door.

Aside from the logistics, there are some other obstacles we hadn't anticipated. Primarily, the cultural differences. In the States, everyone thinks of Canada as "American North" or "America Light," and that could not be further from the truth. Especially here in Quebec, where there's a strong European/immigrant influence and the addition of another language. Aside from that, there are different TV shows, different celebrities, and overall completely different experiences than what we grew up with. Sometimes we feel like we're confused about things that are totally normal to Canadians, and sometimes we feel like aliens that just landed here.

There's also the language barrier. Calling it a "barrier" isn't totally fair, since most everyone speaks English. But, as we've mentioned a thousand times before, French is the default here, and it's what a lot of Montrealers feel most comfortable communicating in. Maybe I'm just projecting my own insecurities here, but I always feel like the jerk that can't speak French in a lot of situations. Does a primarily French speaker want to be friends with me/us? I don't know. Yes, I'm learning, but I'm still terrible at it, and I'm still a LONG way from being conversational. Unless I'm ordering coffee or pastries.

So where does that leave us? I'm not sure for now, but if you're reading this, come visit us! We could use the company.

About me

After almost 20 years living in Atlanta, Georgia, my husband and I decided it was time to make a change. We packed up our lives, grabbed our beloved cat, and ventured North to re-make our lives in Montreal, Canada.  Did I mention we don't speak French yet?


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