I recently traveled 682 miles to have dinner with a very dear friend.
Well, not really.
But during the road trip between Florida and North Carolina, our families did have dinner together for the first time… after 5 years of living about a half-mile apart. In fact, our families have had dinner together about 10 times in the past 6 months, and we still live in two different states.
I am absolutely not bragging. In fact, I am embarrassed to admit that I was so incredibly busy at our last duty station that I didn’t spend more time with her. Or many of my other dear friends who lived there. Looking back, I realize that I multi-tasked my way through five years at Fort Bragg, and missed out on time with some amazing people.
On one hand, this is a public apology to all my dear friends who have fallen victim to my to-do list in recent years. It is my sincere hope that you will forgive me for having skewed priorities.
More importantly, it is a battle cry to everyone reading this: plan a night out with friends.
Your guest list is simple: include friends old enough to cut their own entrée and go to the bathroom without you. You can include relatives if you’d like, as long as you can spend a few hours being known by your birth name instead of as “Christopher’s mom,” “Kim’s sister,” or “Heather’s husband.”
You may find that the “cut my entrée” crowd will make its way into your conversation, but eventually, as you do this more often, you’ll find other things in common. You may also find some resistance to the idea, because many of us haven’t done this sort of thing for a very long time. Just persist. And make it a regular event. At your first gathering, schedule the second one. You can always reschedule if necessary. But get it on the calendar.
I have found that when I am able to be Shannon at least once a month, I am so much better at being “Karsyn’s mom,” and “Eric’s wife.” And I am so much better at being a friend.