You New In Town?
Published February 9, 2018.
Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend. Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere. Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow. Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. Aminatou: I'm very excited about today's episode because we're going to tackle a question we get all the time! Ann: It is hard to overstate how many times we get asked a variation on this question. Would you care to summarize? Aminatou: Um, how do I move? [Laughs] Ann: How do I make friends? How do I build a new life? How do I learn a new city? How do I move with a partner? How do I move without a partner? [Theme Song] (2:24) Aminatou: How did we become experts in this? Because I don't feel like we're experts at this. Ann: Okay, question, in your adult life, like since post-college, how many times have you moved to a new city? Aminatou: Since college? Ann: Yes. Don't count your move to college; count everything after. How many times have you moved? Aminatou: One second. Ann: It's going to take me a minute too. I run out of fingers on a hand. Aminatou: [Laughs] The thing is I move back to the same cities. Ann: That's true. Well, maybe it's better to do it out loud. So I moved post-college to New York which was mostly following my then-boyfriend/I couldn't get a job anywhere and he was there. Then I moved to San Francisco for an internship. Then I moved to D.C. for a job/also kind of for a boyfriend. This is a shameful history. Then I moved to Austin. Aminatou: [Laughs] I'm like no judgment. Ann: I know. Then I moved to Austin for myself/because I thought I was going to be a freelancer. Then I moved to L.A. for a job and I have been here ever since, so that's five? Five moves since college, like in my adult life. Aminatou: Yeah, I think we're probably about the same. Ann: Do yours. Aminatou: I moved to Brussels because when I graduated college I thought I was supposed to move home and I didn't know where I was going to get a job, and I lived there for a while. And then I moved to D.C. for work and because I didn't want to live in Europe anymore. And then I moved to New York because I was too fun for D.C. Ann: [Laughs] (3:55) Aminatou: And then I moved to San Francisco because I'm a crazy person/I was chasing that paper. Then I moved back to New York. Ann: So I wasn't keeping track. How many was that, five again? Aminatou: Five. Ann: Five, yeah. Aminatou: I wasn't keeping track either but that sounds like five. It might've been four. Ann: So yeah, and then I also, I mean for obvious reasons, the conceit of our podcast which is that we live in different places now maybe is also a reason why we get lots of questions to this effect. But yeah, this is our episode about how to move. [Laughs] Aminatou: It's true. Also as a kid I moved a lot. [Laughs] I'm like I am expert in this. Ann: I never moved as a kid. We moved to a new house maybe every seven years of my childhood but it was like, you know, to a slightly better neighborhood but still within a mile. I definitely did not move as a kid. Aminatou: The other day I tried to count how many houses and apartments I had lived in since childhood. Ann: Holy shit. Aminatou: And I lost track like sophomore year of college and I had crossed 20. I was like I can't play this game. Ann: Wow. Aminatou: That's why whenever I lose my banking information and they're like "What street did you grow up on?" I'm like never touching that money again. Goodbye. Ann: [Laughs] Aminatou: I have no idea. Ann: Yeah. So anyway, so we get bajillions of these questions. I would say the dominant thread is I'm new in town and I'm struggling to make new friends but there are also people who are like literally how do I find an apartment? [Laughs] Aminatou: Yeah. And I'm like to those people there's Google. You're going to be fine. But yeah, I think that the making new friends thing, it's definitely interesting because I'm just like oh, isn't the same advice all the time? But then you realize you get more anxiety about it the older you get. Ann: Oh. Aminatou: I was like okay, that's a thing. It's harder to make friends the older you are, I think, for reasons that don't have to do with age, that just have more to do with context and geography I think. (6:05) Ann: Say more about that. I'm . . . Aminatou: So in the sense that like I feel that when you are young and you're moving, like you're mostly very young, it's like you move for college. It's an automatic pool of people that you're supposed to hang out with, right? Whereas if you're a little bit older and you move for work that pool has gotten smaller. And then if you're literally like I'm a self-actualized career person and I'm moving because I need a challenge that pool has gotten even smaller for you. Ann: Right. Aminatou: And there are just like less opportunities kind of to be stuck in the same place as other transient people in your life. I think that's also part of it. Ann: Yeah. I mean I think that of the moves that I've made, like my two most recent moves, one was a work move that you described where I knew . . . I had tenuous connections to two people in Los Angeles when I moved here and then I had my job. And one of those connections was the Holy Grail of connections which is to say it was someone who was a best friend of a best friend which is like we knew -- I do feel like there's some kind of transitive property of friendship. Aminatou: Mm-hmm. Ann: Wherein if someone you really love who's been very close to you for a long time really, really loves someone and they've been close to them for a long time there's a high probability you will also very much like that person. So shout-out to Sarah who is my friend -- my not-a-friend when I moved here but who immediately opened her social world to me and I met so many people through her. And it was really especially because I had moved for this intense job a lifeline for me where I through this one social connection -- I mean a lot of it's luck, I'll acknowledge that -- but through this one social connection had access to a lot of friends who were not connected to my job which was very important at a time when my job was very stressful and all-consuming. (7:58) Aminatou: Yeah. When I moved to San Francisco for Google there were weirdly a lot of new-in-town type mixers, like corporate style. [Laughs] Ann: Like the company sponsored mixers? Aminatou: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like the company -- the new Googlers are called Nooglers. Ann: Oh my god. Aminatou: So it's like Noogler orientation. Please, I made some of my best friends at Noogler orientation. [Laughs] Mostly because I think when I started there was a very strong contingent of very young people who were all complaining about "Ugh, can you believe my friend at Facebook got $100,000 more in his signing bonus than me?" Ann: Wow, wow, wow. Aminatou: So there was just a very clear delineation between the young kids in backpacks and the rest of us who had jobs before we came here. And the woman that I sat next to on the bus I remember from one activity to the next, she became a really good work pal of mine even though we worked in -- we ended up working in completely different cities, completely different parts of the company. But I think that for me that was the first time that I worked somewhere that I was like ugh, I'm considering making friends here. I've always been very nervous about making friends at work. I'm like no, friends are for outside of work. Work people are work people. But then when you have like, I don't know, tens of thousands of coworkers, it's like okay, this is a different equation altogether. But the other thing that was really funny about a lot of those mixers is a lot of them were geared towards couples that had moved. I found a group of people where we ended up making the joke where we were like okay, we're doing the single mixer of the new Googlers because this ludicrous. Ann: [Laughs] Aminatou: Everything was like "Bring your spouse on the yacht and do this and do that." So that was a really interesting corporate experience that for as much as I make fun of it actually I really enjoyed it because I had never worked at a super-big, kind of super-important company before and it was good to just be like okay, I'm not the only person here that's lost. But the other thing is I had pals in San Francisco before I moved so that was also super-helpful. But it was definitely hard for me because people who I thought would be really close pals, it didn't pan out how I had imagined it in my head. But then I made awesome new friends. It's hard and it is time-consuming. (10:20) Ann: That's a really interesting point because I think that I remember when I moved to D.C. before I knew that you would become a glorious part of my life and I would meet friends who were wonderful through means I could not even conceive, I had this vision of one of my college friends was from the D.C. area and she had a lot of her high school friends who lived there and they were people who I had met and hung out with in the kind of extended friend network way. And for some reason I was very nervous about moving to D.C. and for some reason I fixated on this group of her friends as people who were going to instantly become my friends. And of course that didn't happen. You know, sometimes it does happen that you know someone and they become -- their social network becomes yours. But I definitely had a period of adjustment where I'm like oh, these people who I assumed I would click with or whose schedules or ways of hanging out would immediately mesh with mine, that's not true at all. That's just a story I told myself so I could feel safer about moving. Aminatou: [Laughs] Ann: And it's okay, I mean no . . . I'm still kind of Facebook-connected to and casually friendly with all those people but it is an interesting thing about what makes us feel safe when we're leaping into a new phase of life is not always what ends up being great about that new phase of life, you know? Aminatou: Exactly. Exactly. And I think too that, you know, it's a really . . . when you're moving actually is a really good time to do an audit of what having friends means to you, you know? Ann: Ooh. Say more. (11:50) Aminatou: Because there's the -- in the sense that, you know, there are people that I haven't lived next to in years that they're my friends. [Laughs] You're one of those people. Ann: Hello, raising my hand. Aminatou: Right? You know what I mean? Where I'm like okay, these people are friends. These people are friends tried and true and we'll figure it out. But I had really underestimated how much day-to-day face time I needed in friendly situations. Ann: Ah. Aminatou: Like I was like oh, I have all these really great friends. I don't really have too much time for new friends or whatever. I was very much in my Drake no new friends mode at one point. Ann: [Laughs] Aminatou: And then I remember one day just looking at my apartment and being like oh, I'm lonely. Is this the feeling of being lonely? [Laughs] Ann: Aww. Aminatou: And I was very much taken aback by it, right? But I'm a proactive bitch so I went on my phone and I was literally like who do I know in San Francisco? And texted every single person like "You up? What are you doing? Do you want to go to a thing?" And I remember -- and it was so desperate. It was so like oh my god. And also every city kind of has a vibe, right? Like there are places that if you want to hang out with people you've got to give them 72 hours notice. Ann: [Laughs] Aminatou: And there are places where people are like "Yeah, I'm coming over right now." That's all to be negotiated. But then somebody who I didn't know very well texted me back and she was like "Oh, I'm in this place." And I was like "I'm coming over!" And we ended up having a delightful day. But I really remember that where I was like whoa, I really thought I was going to do this solo thing for a while until I found my community and then I could have my built-in dinner parties or whatever and it was such a humbling reminder that actually if you don't want to be alone you've got to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Ann: Oh my god, yeah. It's kind of like when you're new in town there is no option but proactive bitch. Like that is the default. Aminatou: [Laughs] (13:48) Ann: It's funny because I sometimes wonder if I hadn't . . . I mean especially like in my early 20s, I bounced around so, so much that I kind of wonder if I had stayed in the same place for maybe the first ten years of my adult life I wouldn't have learned this but sometimes when that feeling that you were describing of like I'm at home and I feel kind of lonely, a lot of people never get over that hump and send the text and say "Hello, remember me? That person you kind of know casually? Let's actually do a thing." And I think that even more so than sending the new in town version of a "You up?" text . . . Aminatou: [Laughs] Ann: Is like saying "I am going to do this fun thing in my new city. Do you want to come?" I think sometimes it's easier to respond to a concrete invite with a day and time than it is to respond to a "Do you want to hang out sometimes?" open-ended, hard to pin down. Yeah. Aminatou: I know. [Laughs] Man, yeah, the San Francisco days were LOLio because I remember I would put in . . . any time I met a new person I would put in their name but also the situation I met them in so it would always be like "Sarah, hiking" or "Archibald, poetry slam." Or whatever. Ann: Oh my god, Archibald Poetry. Is Archibald Poetry a real person? Aminatou: Archibald is real. Poetry slam is not real. Ann: Okay. Aminatou: I'm just not going to embarrass him with how we met. But it was like I have never been to a poetry slam in my life, thank you very much. Ann: Wow, pure. Aminatou: But it would be these things where I would find myself going through my phone going like "Hello, new person, it's Amina from archery this morning. Do you want to do this thing?" [Laughs] But also, you know, if I'm honest I think the one thing my friends enjoy about me, which LOL I'm going to pat myself on the back and then all my real friends will text me . . . Ann: I'm excited to fact-check this statement, whatever comes next. Aminatou: . . . and be like "Amina, this is not true," is I think that I'm a planner. I'm a person who makes things happen for them. You know, most people are very socially lazy and I come with plans all the time. I'm like here's what we're doing. Here's where we're going. Not in a bossy way, but I present options to people. Ann: I agree. I feel like I am similar, which is like, you know, partially a function of personality. Like is this a thing you kind of enjoy doing? If you hate being the one to make plans and do that I don't think you can overnight turn yourself into the planner kind of friend long-term. (16:08) Aminatou: I know, but I'm a firm believer that also you cannot be a great friend unless you take on some planning duties. Ann: Yeah. Aminatou: Because as a constant planner I think that that's the thing that makes me so exhausted in meeting new friends. Not only do you have to have your game face on, you have to be charming as fuck. You have to wear the perfect outfit. I approach new friend situations like people approach date situations. Ann: Oh my god, completely. Aminatou: I am like I'm playing for keeps here. And so I'm like review your five best jokes, all this stuff. Ann: [Laughs] Aminatou: And so on top of that when you have to make plans in a place that you're not familiar in it is very stressful. But I'm a friend that will always have a good bar suggestion, a good restaurant suggestion, a good activity suggestion. If we go on an out-of-town trip I will definitely razzle-dazzle you. You know, so I think that skill set comes in handy for when you're trying to seduce people. [Laughs] Ann: Yeah. It's so funny because I have, in the time -- I mean in many of my moves I have asked friends in other cities to set me up with friends in my new city and make introductions. I love doing that kind of Facebook post of "Who is your favorite person?" or "Who do you think I would get along with in Los Angeles?" or whatever. And not all of those blind dates -- friend blind dates that you're describing end up taking, but I think that when I look back at like . . . you know how when you look at the way your friend group is made up and you can kind of trace the lines back to oh, maybe we did kind of work together briefly or this person's ex was a friend of a person I was hanging out with three years ago but we kept each other and the ex is long gone. You know what I mean? I think I can definitely trace some great friendships to blind dates but maybe it wasn't the person that I was on the blind friend date with. You know what I mean? Aminatou: Yeah. (18:00) Ann: Like the importance of showing up just because it is a toe-hold into a new social world is important. And it makes it sound kind of transactional, I guess, like go meet this person because they might introduce you to better people. [Laughs] That is not what I mean but yeah. Aminatou: It is transactional. It is transactional in a sense. Ann: Yeah, yeah. Aminatou: You are both opening yourselves up to people. Also I don't feel bad about being transactional about social interactions because I feel like I facilitate really great social interactions for people. Ann: Oh my god, yeah. Perfect pay-it-forward point. Yeah. [Laughs] Aminatou: This is really turning into me patting myself on the back and I feel really shitty now. [Laughs] [Music and Ads] (22:00) Ann: Okay, okay. Here's a question. What do you wish you had done differently in one or several of your moves? Aminatou: You know, honestly not a lot. [Laughs] Ann: Surprise, surprise. Aminatou: Surprise. You know, I think that a lot of regrets that I have mostly for me are about the actual logistics of moving which when -- I'm going to talk about my fancy Google job again -- when they send a company to come move you, you're like what? I can be this organized? So I think that really taking my moving situation to the next level, somebody will not always move you but I think making the move as painless for you as possible is something that was really helpful for me because I didn't realize how much energy that sucked out of me where everything -- it's like everything from finding an apartment to making friends was so . . . because I feel like I can't be in friend-hunting mode until my nest is set. [Laughs] Which is also a ridiculous thing to think, you know? But I'm like you need an address. So it's like that stuff. It's like being less stupid about how . . . being more organized about cross-country moving I think was really helpful. Another thing I think I wish I had done more is probably just be . . . like you know I love being a tourist, but I wish I had been even more aggressively of a tourist in San Francisco because I feel that I would've probably enjoyed it more. And also a thing that I do that I don't recommend is because I traveled so much for work I left a lot really early on and that was a mistake because if you're forever leaving your new city really early on then you're not going to make lasting roots. It makes it hard to make plans with friends. Ann: Right, when it starts feeling like your crash pad for, you know, during the week and you're gone every weekend or whatever? Totally. (23:50) Aminatou: Yeah, no, let me tell you, when I moved back to New York, there were people that I saw that were like -- when I was like I'd been living in San Francisco for two years they were like "Oh, I just thought you moved out of Park Slope. [Laughs] Like I've seen you so many times since." Because I was in New York all the time. You know, it was like that made it really hard and it's like looking back on it now I should've said no to a lot of those trips. But I was like there's an opportunity to get on an aeroplane? Goodbye. Ann: So I have a counter-point to your moving logistics regrets. One is just money, like most of the time an easy move is not possible if you have no money. Aminatou: Of course. Of course. Ann: Obvious but I just wanted to say it. And the second thing is it's funny, when I'm thinking about my many moves, when I left D.C. I got rid of everything that didn't fit in my car which basically meant all of the books I owned that did not have extreme sentimental value or . . . Aminatou: I know, I own so many of your books. Ann: Oh my god. Aminatou: That Mormon book. [Laughs] Under the Banner of Heaven. Thanks, Ann. Ann: Oh my god, you know, I kept a different Mormon book and not that long ago I was like where is my other Mormon book? And I did not have it. So all of this is to say you know I'm the anti-condo. I have felt regret about specific editions of books that I got rid of in the great book purge of 2010 so many times. Aminatou: Nuts. Ann: So many times. So, yeah, it's like a weird . . . I was like oh yeah, why didn't I media mail those to -- I guess I know why I didn't. I didn't have a new address. I was like a nomad for several months driving around with all my possessions in my car but that's a story for a different episode. Aminatou: [Laughs] Ann: But why didn't I just send some media mailboxes of books to my parents or something and hang on to . . . like definitely do an edit but not just burn it all down. There's something to be said for the process of moving and having to go through everything you own and reassess that I'm not denying is wonderful but I have taken it too far. [Laughs] (25:50) Aminatou: I know. Well, you know, one thing I did when I left D.C. that first time I put half of my shit in a storage unit and then I didn't revisit it until after I moved back from California so that's like two -- three moves later. Ann: Oh my god, what was even in there? Aminatou: Long story short I got rid of everything. Like I thought they would -- you know, they were all things that I felt really sentimental about at the time but again I was moving to someone's couch essentially so it's like I don't know what I can do with all this stuff. And I was paying like $100 a month on this storage unit for like three years or whatever which I feel so dumb about. And when I finally got into the storage unit I was like this is four Aminas ago. [Laughs] Ann: It was like a time capsule. Aminatou: Oh yeah, it was like a time capsule. I was like none of this furniture is my vibe anymore. None of these knick-knacks. Like literally I did not keep a single thing from the storage unit. Ann: Oof. Aminatou: Because none of it was me. But, you know, I'm also a ruthless . . . I get rid of everything. Ann: I know. Aminatou: And I have no regrets about it. It's why I don't have childhood memories. [Laughs] But that's the story for another episode. Yeah, it's like money is definitely the biggest factor, right? About how you can do all of that stuff. But sometimes it's also okay to just be like okay, I can't move this thing right now. I want to hang on to it. I could've asked a friend to hold on to a couple pieces of furniture or give it -- you know what I mean? Or whatever. But it's like now I know what my vibe is. Ann: [Laughs] Aminatou: And, you know, moving is very traumatic. We treat it like this -- or at least I do -- I'm just like I'm always on the go. I'm always going or whatever. And I'm like oh, this is . . . you go through grief multiple times and you actually have to sit down to think about it and starting over is hard. We get so many questions from people who are like "Not only am I moving to a new city, I also have to reestablish my career," or "I'm moving with my partner," or "I'm moving because I broke up." There are all these other life things that happen in the background of your move, right, that also affect how hard it is. (27:50) Ann: Yeah. A friend of mine recently moved with a partner and for her, she's like us, like a perpetual nomad, very experienced. Not like it's ever easy to be new, but I do think that there are some skills where you can be better at being new or at least adjust your expectations about being new in town. And her partner has been in the same city since college so basically has never moved and had a total freak-out four weeks in being like "I'm so unhappy and lonely. I miss everything about my old town. Oh my god." And she was like yeah, I had forgotten how it can feel like in the first few weeks at a new place that this is going to be your life forever. Your life is going to be lonely and friendless and you're never going to know your way around town and you're never going to know the person at your corner store or whatever you're missing about your previous place. And she's like it's not that it isn't hard for me right now too; it's just that I kind of have this experience perspective about how it takes one year minimum to feel at home in your new home. Like minimum. Aminatou: That's true. That's very true. I think one thing for me that makes that a little less lonely and a little easier is just learning how my new city works because it's like yes, you're lonely and you're alone but somehow figuring out your geography or even the politics of your town or whatever brings you into contact with people. And I don't know, you just see a different kind of possibility and you're like at least I will take care of one thing. Because I think part of the anxiety of moving too is there's too much going on so it's like okay, if I can figure out work and then I can figure out how to get from point A to point B and not be perpetually lost all the time or learn something new, you know, like meeting new people is just the cherry on top of the cake for me. Ann: Totally. (29:40) Aminatou: And the thing about, you know, navigating your city which is a point that you've made so eloquently so many times is especially if you get civically involved you get to meet people who have like-minded politics. You actually get to meet people. It checks a ton of boxes, you know? Ann: I love playing the game, like does your wallet look like where you live? Like the idea of . . . Aminatou: What does that mean? Ann: Well, okay, so for example it took me a shamefully long time in L.A. to get a TAP card, to get the transit card. I would pay in quarters for the bus or whatever but I didn't go the next step to get the refillable card which actually made me take public transit way more and actually made me learn the city in a new way. I think about now what if in my first few weeks when I was feeling lonely or whatever I got a library card right away, I got a public transit card right away, I registered to vote in my new city right away. And, you know, just this idea of you know how all of your frequent coffee addict cards at your coffee shop or whatever -- your wallet does kind of reflect the place where you live. And I remember you got me a membership to LACMA early on when I lived in L.A. to the art museum. Aminatou: That was a great gift so I'll pat myself on the back. [Laughs] Ann: Oh my god, it was such a good -- I mean you're great at gifts but it was a truly standout gift because it had not occurred to me hey, I live here. Maybe I should become a contributing member to this museum that was then down the street from where I worked. I ended up going on my lunch break almost every day. And just something about having the card in my wallet that says I'm a member of the local art museum, I've done it as a gift for so many friends when they're new to new places that I've 100% stolen it from you. So that's what I mean about make your wallet reflect where you live because I do think that that helps also with you're not looking for a credit card and accidentally run across your metro card for the city that you left or something like that. It's like you're all-in for this new place. Aminatou: Yeah, my wallet looks like I'm Jason Bourne so . . . Ann: [Laughs] Aminatou: It's fine. Ann: I mean you kind of are Jason Bourne. Let's be real. Aminatou: I'm a member of many small Midwestern museums but only because it's cheaper to have memberships at other places. [Laughs] If you need museum life hacks email me. Anyway, that's one of the things. I think too the larger question about this moving thing is if you are making a big move and you try to keep your old friends involved in your life and are really real with them about the vulnerabilities and the insecurities that you have . . . Ann: Right, like the support you're going to need? Yeah. Aminatou: Yeah. It makes it a little easier, right? It's literally like lean on them. We're all transient people. The chances that you will move to somewhere where you don't know somebody who knows somebody there are very small, right? I mean it's possible but we live in a very connected world. Somebody will always know someone. And I think that really just being open with your core friends and being like "Hi, I'm really scared of being alone, I don't know what to do, like introduce me to literally very human that you know but also we need to make a plan for how we're going to keep in touch . . ." You know? Because when you feel alone in all these new places what that means is nobody can come over and sit on your couch and drink whiskey with you. It doesn't mean that you don't have friends. (33:05) Ann: Right. It just means you don't have people at that level of drop by and we don't need a plan kind of plans. Aminatou: Exactly. And so, you know, I remember when you moved to L.A. we were really good early on about making a phone date that was fairly consistent. Ann: We had logged so many vid-chat hours that first year, yeah. Aminatou: Oh my god, yeah, vid-chat. Wow, I forgot about that. And we would put in all the weirdo stickers and stuff that they had. Miss you, Google Chat. And yeah, I think doing that -- and you were so good about "Here's my new coffee shop! Here's the new thing that I have," or whatever. And so I felt like I would . . . like the first time that I went to visit you in L.A. I felt like I was so familiar with so many places and people because you had been so open about that. Ann: Yeah. You knew my world for sure. (33:55) Aminatou: And something about that was really great. So, you know, it really is all about communication and vulnerability. [Laughs] Surprise, like everything in life. Ann: Totally. And then also not just being -- it's funny, thinking about being proactive when making new friends and also being a little bit proactive with your old friends whose lives are like, you know . . . like it's not that their lives don't change when you leave, but their lives are predominantly staying the same. And so if you can say sort of like "Hello, for the next three months can we schedule a weekly Sunday night phone date?" or whatever and being proactive about not just your new friends but your old friends I think really helps establish a tether to the people who are going to, let's be honest, continue to be your main support system until you meet closer friends in your new place. Aminatou: Yeah. And also I think having the real talk with yourself that everything takes time is real, right? I just love to bulldoze through life and just be like what? I just got here. Why aren't I established? It's . . . Ann: The cutest bulldozer. [Laughs] Aminatou: I know, the most lethargic bulldozer and everything. But really it's like if you think about all the other relationships you have in your life that mean a lot for you, think about how long it took for you to get there. And sometimes I mean it doesn't take a long -- like, you know, sometimes you do fall in love with somebody at a Gossip Girl viewing party. Ann: I'm making a heart eye emoji at you right now. [Laughs] Aminatou: [Laughs] But the thing is, you know, by this point you've known that person for a long time so it's like not putting pressure on your new relationships to have that same level of intimacy and familiarity really out the gate I think is really important. Sometimes reading the room also is just really important, right? I think that one of your best assets when you're the new person is being highly observational and just trying to figure out like okay, what are people's other life circumstances kind of that they have where it . . . you know, it's like if you meet a new person who is a mom it clearly means you need to be more attentive about scheduling than whatever, right? And not taking things personally if you're like 10 p.m., go out for a drink with me or whatever. Or if you meet people who are a large group of friends and being like oh, here's how everybody knows each other, here's a thing that they enjoy, and maybe here's a thing that I can enjoy doing with them, and figuring that out, it makes it seem a little transactional which it's not. But I think it's just about like -- you know, it's eyes wide open. Where is your place in this new world? (36:32) Ann: Oh my god, completely. And when I think about who makes kind of a good friend for someone who is new, other people who have recently been through a big life change, so other people who are new in town, people who have just been through a break-up, people who maybe just quit a job or changed careers or something like that. You know, I think there is a truth to the way that some people -- not everyone is like this but some people are kind of like default friend group people. They like to call the same group of people every week. They like to . . . they're like a small, tight rather than a big, extended network style of friendship. And that's totally a valid way to be in the world but it's also a hard thing that can . . . it can be difficult to break into an existing friend structure like that, and what is a lot easier is meeting people who are like you and kind of like, you know, they have some slots on their dance card that they're looking to fill. [Laughs] Aminatou: You know, I think another thing too is just like when you're dating someone you have to be really vocal and enthusiastic about the things that you enjoy doing. And just telling people that nobody is a mind reader, so if somebody mentions like "Oh, I really like this band," or "I really like doing this activity," or whatever, saying like "Oh, I would like to do that too. Will you let me know next time you do X thing?" Ann: Yes, that's so good. (37:50) Aminatou: It's just like, you know, I find that all of my friend activity dates have happened that way for me where I'm like oh, I want to learn this thing. Will you tell me next time you do this or you do that? And it's like you have to be really forward. Again, I just think you have to be proactive. You've got to take your life into your own hands. And that's not to say that people will always respond to you or that somebody will always be there. I can't tell you how many times I've texted ten people and nobody was available and I was like guess I'm going to watch Bob's Burgers and make lasagna today. Ann: It happens. [Laughs] Aminatou: It happens. But for me the thing that makes me feel not crazy is I know that I've made a step to doing that. And, you know, I think also when I'm super new and if I'm like okay, I invited like seven people to hang out and everybody flaked on me or whatever this week, all I think is like okay, it's time to expand the map. How do I make this -- like go back to the drawing board, like how do you make this bigger? And also, yeah, just being really open and telling people -- and just tell yourself in six months it will be different and in a year it will be even more different. Ann: And I think that's a great point because also in two years and in three years it'll be different. You know, I was recently thinking about after my first year here I felt like I had a few good friends. I definitely felt like I was getting a toe-hold. But things change over time even when you're an established local in the city, like people's lives change, friendship dynamics change, and there are definitely some people who are core to me locally right now like my see every week, text every day people who I actually met pretty soon after moving here but for whatever reason we just didn't click in that way right away. And now five years later somewhere along the line we had that moment or we slowly ramped up our friendship. So I think that's another thing to keep in mind if you're like "I'm meeting all these people but nothing's really gelling into the kind of friendship I want" like panic, it's like you know, time. You never know how this stuff is going to come back around or change. (39:50) Aminatou: You do never know. But you know what? It's all going to be fine. It will literally all be fine. Ann: Yes. I'm trying to think if we missed anything in the questions we get from people. I mean . . . it's mostly all just help. [Laughs] Aminatou: Yeah, it's just help. It's like you're going to be fine. It's okay to panic. Definitely panic a little bit but also don't wallow in the panic. Ann: Panic but ask for help and be proactive. Aminatou: [Laughs] Ann: Yeah. Good luck. Good luck new in town people. Aminatou: Good luck. I'm never moving ever again! [Laughs] Ann: Oh my god, I kind of have that feeling every once in a while. Aminatou: That's literally not true. Ann: I know. It makes me oddly feel comfortable to say that but also very sad to think about never moving again. It's very weird. Aminatou: You know, I grew up as somebody who moved a lot. I enjoy moving. I enjoy different places. And I think that for my own personality type, and I think that's a thing to recognize, it just depends what kind of person you are. I think when I get too comfortable somewhere I automatically just start looking left and right. I'm just like okay, what is this? Am I too comfortable or am I afraid to make roots somewhere? But I like moving. I like living different places. My life has been in different places, my people are in different places, and I would like to see all of them at some point. Ann: It's also exciting -- like I have really loved being like how am I different in each place? I mean obviously there are some fundamentals but your environment does change how you are in the world and your social world does change how you are. It's very fun. I think that's one thing that excites people about moving, right? Is like the going away to college vibe of like who am I in this new context? Who could I be? Aminatou: [Laughs] Ann: And it's kind of like the thrill recaptured every time I move. Aminatou: Right, new in town vibes. Ann: Mmm, yes. Aminatou: Okay. Good luck to all the movers out there. [Laughs] Ann: Good luck to the movers and the left-behind long-distance besties, never left behind in their hearts. Know that. [Laughs] [Music] Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, you can download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts, or on Apple Podcasts where we would love it if you left us a review. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at callyrgf. You can subscribe to our monthly newsletter The Bleed on the Call Your Girlfriend website. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. Our theme song is by Robyn. All original music is composed by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs. Our logos are by Kenesha Sneed and this podcast is produced by Gina Delvac. Ann: We'll see everyone on the Internet. That's the great thing.