How I’ve Gone About Making Friends in Seattle

Mari and I bonded over wine, but it took 5 years to really become friends. Whoa!

Mari and I bonded over wine, but it took 5 years to really become friends. Whoa!

Growing up I had a tight band of friends, mostly thanks to Summer Swim League, Church youth group, and Girl Scouts. I am a Seattle native, raised in a suburb just fifteen minutes north of the city, in what was, then, unincorporated King County. This is my home, the fiercely independent people who escaped via wagon train, to homestead, and log, and settle the furthest west they could. At 25 I met my biological family and learned the amazing truth that I am related to some of the first pioneers here in WA, starting towns in the mountains of Central Washington, and out on the Peninsula. This is my home.

But at 14 I was uprooted, shuttled to the hot, dry, shrub steppe climate of Central Washington’s sagebrush dotted ‘wine country.’ It was a miserable few years, made good by college attendance, and the eventual migration HOME to Seattle after meeting Boof and deciding on the grad school route of postsecondary counseling.

I noticed something in both my moves, in how it relates to making friends. As a Seattle child, I was wary, but had friends because of the activities I was involved in. But when I lived in Central Washington, there was a distinct overwhelming difference in making friends. Because I walked into school the first day and…people said hi to me. I know, crazy, right? I had assumed it would take a good 6 months or so to even be acknowledged, because that was the vibe I got, and gave, to new kids at my schools in Seattle. There was something more open, friendly, embracing, in the smallish city that we had moved to.

In moving home to the evergreen side of the state, albeit to a suburb fifteen minutes south of Seattle, this time, I realized that in order to make friends I was going to have to put in the time and effort. It’s something I ask my students in class, about their impressions, and experiences, with the Seattle friendship vibe. And they all agree with me…it’s hard to make friends in Seattle.

I blame our pioneer spirit. I’ve joked with my students that the friendship vibe, you know, where people say “let’s get coffee!” and it means “i’m being polite and have zero intention of actually getting coffee with you,” …that doesn’t exist in other parts of the country, is due to the fur traders who lived in cabins around here, and would have moved even further west if there hadn’t been a big giant ocean (or, the Puget Sound) in their way. I feel like we are all descendants from those rugged individualists who moved here to get away from the fray, and one day woke up and there were high rises and stepford neighborhoods and they look around and think ‘wtf?’ and put their north face heads down and keep walking.

It’s not that people aren’t friendly, it’s just that they’re hard to get to know. And so, to this day, the people I call my friends have come from two distinct groups: A) people my husband or his family knew growing up here and/or B) transplants who’ve moved here and are dealing with the very same thing as me.

Starting with Boof’s circle, including his sisters, and my mother-in-law, seemed like a natural place, since I figured by dating the guy I might end up being a part of his family and wanted to get to know them and their family friends. Despite my introverted bookish ways, I summoned my energy for several years and got out of my comfort zone, doing things like…inviting them out to coffee, or going out of my way to do insane things like encouraging them to jump off rocks so we could take funny pictures. And not just family, but family friends, too. Despite being uncomfortable, feeling like an outsider, I went to social gatherings with a group of girls who had known each other in some fashion since childhood. I often felt nostalgic for that group of girls I saw on Facebook, who still palled around from my childhood Girl Scout Troop, and fantasized that if I hadn’t left I would be in this place of  unbroken friendship since the early days. But instead, I mustered my own pioneer tenacity and hung out with my new family and acquaintances on a semi-regular basis. Because, in Seattle, time forges friendships. Like moss growing on rocks, or water eroding canyons. It takes time.

In the meantime, through grad school, and my first few jobs, I’ve picked up a rag tag group of friends, with only one not fitting into my family/family-friends-since-childhood or transplant theory, in a Seattle native, but he’s a dude, and I’ve worked with him at two different jobs for the last four years, so again, the whole time issue. This rag tag group of friends has their roots in many places, from the Pennsylvania Amish country, to native New Yawkers, and a few Floridians for good measure. East Coast. South. Maybe Eastern Washington, but all transplants.

I’ve been back for almost seven years, and I can confidently say I have friends. Mari grew up going to youth group with Boof, and was friends with his sister. And after five years of hanging about on the friendship periphery, somehow the time (or stars?) aligned and we became close. But it wasn’t instant like I had in college, or in Eastern Washington. It was slow, like moss growing on a rock. I think that was aided by proximity, and shared interests, and finding ourselves in the same boat with children (is the boat sinking?). I tell these stories to my students, who are struggling to fit in and find connections because it takes so long. They’re trying to not feel so lonely, and I’ll say things like, “you might feel awkward, but keep trying. keep going to things even if you feel like maybe you were only invited out of obligation. keep inviting people out to coffee. make an ass of yourself and make people laugh. just hang around, especially with people with common interests, and you’ll finally fit. I promise. But if you want friends, you’re going to have to do the work. And you’re going to have to not take six month gaps or lapse in hanging out personally, because somehow that’s just how it rolls here. ”

Any else have good advice on how to relate or be friends with people in Seattle?


On Being Vulnerable

Is this what vulnerability looks like?

Is this what vulnerability looks like?

I feel like vulnerability is such a catch phrase lately. Maybe it’s because I spend hours a day in my office googling TED talks, and listened to Brene Brown’s videos (here ) on vulnerability and shame recently, but it feels like a word that’s in the air. And it’s a word that I often have difficulty with, even just in definition, let alone in practice. I get squeemish thinking about letting people see my soft underbelly, because that could leave me wounded and hurting.

“Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.” –Brene Brown

But recently I have been compelled toward vulnerability and connection to others in a way that I have been afraid to be before. With my coming out post, and sharing it with non-anonymous people in my life, I opened myself up to friends and family in a way that is often foreign to me. I risked judgment and scrutiny. And in recent conversations, as well, I have found myself both hurt by some, and completely blessed by a connection and intimacy with those who haven’t understood, but have sat with me in the revelation and loved me regardless.

And so I’m reaching out, and up. And making connections that scare and excite me, and letting myself embody the person I have always been, but was afraid to show the world. It’s nice to know I’m surrounded by so much love from my husband Boof, and friends, like Mari, who sits with me drinking wine while our kiddos tear around the backyard. I feel like my marraige and friendships and family life is in such a good place right now, that I am bursting at the seams.

these 'dresses' have nothing to do with vulnerability. but we now know where to go if Mari and I were to start a cult...

these ‘dresses’ have nothing to do with vulnerability. but we now know where to go if Mari and I were to start a cult…

In what ways are you vulnerable with those in your life?

How Drinking Beer Leads to Yoga Poses


Sometimes you just need a girl’s day, that turns into a girl’s night. And with little ones roaming around, this spontaneous day was actually very well planned…down to the last minute, even.

We started off with a leisurely drive up north to a Korean women’s spa. WHOA, what an experience. It felt somewhere between radically amazing and downright uncomfortable. While lying on a wet massage table, getting scrubbed by a Korean woman named “Tina,” next to at least 10 other women getting the same body scrub, I couldn’t help but feel that this was about 1/2 a step away from a Korean red light district. But at the end of the day I felt so relaxed and rejuvenated that wandering around in our hospital dressing gowns with shower caps like psych patients that I would certainly go back.

And we headed on down to the U district for a shampoo and blow out, before we went out to dinner. And then, finally, the fun part of our day…drinking at Gordon Biersch brewery. YUM! On our way back to the hotel, after 1 (or 5) beers, we just had to bust out some yoga moves. We don’t do yoga 4 times a week together to not want to do them while a bit tipsy!

Toe Stand

despite the beer, her balance is amazing!

nothing like a heart opener to end the night!

nothing like a heart opener to end the night!

24 hours of pure girl’s day bliss. We woke up to croissants and mimosas in bed, and I felt so relaxed it was unbelievable!

Mom friends or friends who are moms?

I always cross my fingers that Friday morning will be sleep in day…but Potamus usually has other ideas. And so I trundled out of bed at 6:15 this morning for a hungry boy who wanted to watch some Jake & the Neverland Pirates like he does everyday before school. I tried to curl up on the couch and sleep, but between episodes ending and the dog barking I was barely successful at even resting.

So I decided to bundle him up to get some errands done, and hopefully get a chance to run off some of his energy at the mall’s play area. I was sitting there getting him acclimated, facebooking my friend Mari, and hoping that he’d stop CLINGING to my leg and go run around, when from across the play area I hear “Monk-Monk!” and I look up to find my college acquainted, her daughter, newborn son, and another acquaintance from a mommy group I attended on maternity leave. I hadn’t yet managed to align my schedule up to meet with Christy, since her son was born, so I rushed over to hang out with them and catch up. It started off well, the small talk pleasantries, and a wee snuggle sesh with her son, but then I started to feel…awkward.

Mostly I started to feel awkward when Christy announced that our other acquaintance was going to have another baby…because whoa nelly that’s personal, and she’s not due until this summer, which makes her not that far along and maybe doesn’t want the news to just be announced from the rooftops. At any rate, the thing I realized that I was supremely uncomfortable about was that what we were relating on was…being moms. And the emphasis on having TWO kids, and how TWO kids is more of a deal than having ONE kid (like me), and I felt less-than. I also think that the fact that I’m a working mom set me apart, too, and I left the interaction awkwardly after about 30 minutes and had to text Mari to make sure that I wasn’t going crazy.

Holding that newborn I felt repulsion and jealousy. I know that I want to at least try to have another kid. But I also know that I am also really really loving being a mom AND a person. I was reminded at how overwhelming the whole early breastfeeding experience was, and the total consumption of ALL THINGS BABY was, and I didn’t like talking about it and didn’t fit in, either. Because so much of my world is about being ME, a person who happens to also be a mom. But my identity is multifaceted, and Ijust cannot seem to relate to stay at home moms who appear to have lost any ability to talk about anything except poopy diapers.

God I feel so conflicted, and left out, and trying to remember that my path to motherhood is valid and my own, regardless of how it looks or doesn’t mesh with other people’s path or experience of motherhood.

But it’s hard.

While they were talking about how bad they felt putting their kids in a home daycare for 1 day a week in order to ‘get some stuff done,’ I was sitting there feeling ZERO guilt for the 4 days a week of daycare that Potamus goes to…and ZERO guilt for doing yoga 3-4 times a week, and ZERO guilt for having a job and friends who drink and managing to shower every day since his birth. I think that the issues might be that when I was first a mom I met mom friends…friends where what we had in common was being moms of newborns. And now…now I have this desire to have friends.

Friends without kids, who appreciate kids and are okay with Potamus coming along.
Friends without kids, who don’t like kids, and are okay with me only sporadically being able to hang out when my schedule permits.
Friends with kids, who are friends…with kids. Where we can talk about being parents, but mostly we can just hang out and do fun stuff and have our kids come along, like last weekend where we went to a brewery with kids in tow, after having them run around at an indoor playground.

It’s okay that my life and priorities are different than other mom’s lives and priorities…and just like when I didn’t have kids, it’s okay to be friends with people I click with, rather than trying to force myself to be friends with people who I don’t feel like I click with…right?

How do you handle the mom friend dilemma?

Finding Friendships as an Adult

Caspar Babypants

Taking the boys to Caspar Babypants. Potamus is like 4 months old here…

For awhile I assumed that my ‘best years’ (as far as the ease of friendship-making) was behind me. College was this time, where I’d meet someone in a class, or at a coffee shop, or in an extra-curricular activity and BAM we’d be instant besties. We’d do things together day and night, since we had all the time in the world. And very many of these relationships are the ones that I still revisit, like Laura in Albuquerque and Ruth in Oregon. But as an adult, it’s been different…we have so very little time to meet people, and then even less time to hang out on a regular basis. So friendships form over longer periods of time, and with many, they drop off because of time constraints before ever making it to that bestie level, ya know?

A few years ago, probably 5 or so, I was introduced to Mari through my sister-in-law. They had gone to junior high youth group together. I was initially intimidated, because hello have you seen how gorgeous she is? And cool. We weren’t instantly friends, but as the years progressed, and we hung out more in the friend group, we realized how much we have in common (though at first glance it appears we have zero in common).

And then I had a kid.

Suddenly I was thrust into the world of motherhood, and working motherhood, something Mari was doing beautifully. And we hung out more and more. And then she had another kid, on Potamus’ birthday, and now we finish each other’s sentences. It’s to the text-the-same-thing-at-the-same-time level of strange connection. Boof jokes that I text her like I’m a teenage girl, and maybe that’s true, because it’s been a long time since I’ve had the in-person type connection with someone. A friend I can tell anything to, without fear of being judged. A friend to be vulnerable with in person, as I have other that are a phone call away.

Like last night, as I was crying into my red wine, she came by to cheer me up. And seeing her 4 year old and Potamus playing like friends, while we sat and commiserated on the couch, was the most touching moment ever. But it didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen with someone expected. And that’s what making friendships as an adult is about. Putting in the time, pushing past insecurities and following through on making those plans that you want, even though you’re afraid to make.

And unlimited texting packages don’t hurt, either, especially if you have both have phone anxiety.



If we could go back, would we?


we wore stripes to match, clearly we discussed this ahead of time 😉

There’s something lovely about making re-connections in person. After 5 years, my college bestie Laura made it back up to the PacNW and was able to carve out two lovely chunks of time to spend with me. It was wonderful. Our relationship has ebbed and flowed over the past few years, with many life altering situations happening on either end and a phone anxiety getting in the way of keeping each other informed regularly. There was a time when I wondered if we would ever consider each other friends again, but then, we started talking. And while it was somewhat awkward at first, we re-connected…and she came to visit her family, which only solidified our friendship further.

We’re both older, less inclined to gallavanting willy nilly through parks or staying up super late talking in the back of her pickup truck. There were early nights and lots of cups of coffee. And she got to meet Potamus, which was so delightful. What I enjoy about her friendship is that while we picked up where we left off, we were able to fondly recall some of those really good times in college, but we didn’t live in nostalgia land.

Nostalgia land is what I notice with Boof, when we get together with some of his friends and all they do is talk about highschool/college/camp/whatever memory they have from each other. Nostalgia is fun to glance at, but not a fun place to live. The wisftful sadness of wishing to go back to an easier time doesn’t work. It’s like driving, you can glance in the rearview mirror, but you’re sure to get in an accident if you only look in the rearview mirror (unless you’re backing up, heh!). So it was nice to acknowledge the past, but to build our relationship in the here & now.

And when I dropped her off at the airport, I surprised myself with my vulnerable side, and teared up. I was able to express that I had missed her and hoped that we would keep in touch more often. Because I love this girl, ya know? She’s one of the besties that I want to keep in my life. But I love my life, and so, if I could go back…to the ease and quiet of college…I know that I wouldn’t.


My wedding day

Would you go back to an easier time (college/high school/childhood)?

Wearing heels makes for quite a workout on Seattle hills…


Boof’s father retired, which meant we got to go to a swanky shindig in downtown Seattle. His sister got married at the Columbia Tower, and so we had a sort-of-repeat event, with lovely appetizers and wine. The best part, was so many of our friends were invited, so we had plenty of young parents (or young friends) to mingle with! I was feeling particularly good about myself, since I squeezed into a pre-baby dress!



Potamus and grammy…

My parents came over for the weekend, so that they could take Potamus home from the party early, freeing up us young ones to go on our merry way and have some good-old-fashioned fun-times. It was like being in college…except our drinks of choice were fancy wine and beer over Miller lites…


Since I haven’t done a lot of drinking in downtown Seattle, I learned a few lessons about how to navigate…


Hills and heels are HARD on the body. My toes felt like they were going to fall off. But the next day…WOW…that’s when my legs felt like I had done a hard workout. My shins were bruised and on fire, my ankles felt creaky, and my glutes…whoa. Maybe I need to go on the drinking-walking-in-heels-on-hills diet…though the calories from beer will probably add up to more weight than less…


the fellas.

Speaking of heels…boys have no idea what it’s like to walk in them. They picked a bar, originally, like 6 blocks downhill that we stopped in at. The service sucked, despite the swanky reputation, so we skipped out after having a glass of water. We headed on down to Fado, an irish pub, which was MORE walking. Thanks fellas. But, another thing I learned…it is FUN to drink with a former frat boy. Whoo boy, the middle dude is HILARIOUS when lit…we’re gonna have to do a repeat sometime soon, because, for some reason, breastfeeding moms think him shouting TITTIES, is the funniest thing ever. Yes. We are awesome.


my mom friends

Drinking with moms is different than drinking with non-moms. Because we started to get nervous about 9pm. Of course, my kid was the only one still awake (didn’t go to sleep until 11:30pm, after we got home). Our hubby’s were fine to stay out, but we started to get nervous, texting our babysitters, ordering our last round of drinks, planning for our escape…before the rest of the city had begun their pre-funking for a night out. Although, we didn’t go home too soon…we had to get in a round (or two…shh…don’t tell Boof) of irish car bombs. While I had never done them before, I rocked it like a champ. There’s probably video of it somewhere…


was this after we peed in an alley? wha??? thanks post-partum bladder muscles…

Moms can hold their liquor…but not their pee. We risked a fine while going in an alley. And by alley I mean a doorway on the side of the viaduct. Yep. We were banking on our sob story (but officer, our pelvic muscles just don’t work anymore, we pushed kids out of our vaginas!), but the rest of our party could not understand why we didn’t just go back into the bar instead of peeing on the side of its building. Because we’re awesome, that’s why.

Also, Boof tried out SideCar, the alternative to a taxi, since he just wanted to go a few blocks, and taxis around here are ridiculous. He said it was totally worth the few bucks, and that he’d do it again the next time we were downtown. Cool!


all the girls!

We had fun, my legs are sore, and thankfully I know enough in my old age to drink a SHIT TON of water when I get home. So I’m tired, but not hungover, despite my foray into binge-drinking-as-a-mom. It was fun to relax as a group, spend time together laughing, eating good food, making some memories!

Gold Friends

make new friends,
but keep the old,
one is silver,
and the other’s gold

When we first met we were both awkward, she had spoken up in Bible study saying that she was lonely, had no friends, and after the Bible study was over, I said, awkwardly, “hey, you want to go get coffee, I don’t have many friends either,” or something to that effect. What proceeded was two blissful college years where we spent hours upon hours talking (even racking up a $1,000 phone bill one summer when I was across country). Friendship with her was so easy and made me believe in soulmates. I firmly believe, that if there is reincarnation or past lives, that she and I have known each other in some capacity for thousands upon thousands of years.

But friendships aren’t easy after college. Our weekly phone conversations turned to monthly turned to quarterly and then dwindled to maybe every 6 months when I was lucky. And, honestly, I felt that I made the effort most of the time. I kept calling, leaving messages, and she seemed off in her cool little life, rock climbing and doing major wilderness trips, and I assumed that we had just fallen out of friendship. It’s something I’ve agonized over, but I don’t have time to pursue a friendship where it doesn’t seem reciprocal.

I put up a boundary in my mind: I’ll gladly reconnect if she contacts me first. I love this girl, but I can’t keep putting out the effort.

And that lasted for almost a year, with being busy as a new mom and with a new job. But then I saw that New Mexico was on fire and I sent her a quick text saying “I hope you’re okay, I hear it’s on-fire down there.” One simple text led to more texting lead to her saying she would call this week. I didn’t hold my breath, knowing she’s said things like that before in the past.

But she called.

And we talked. And talked. And talked.

I know that we had so much catching up to do, but we fell into an easy conversation. And it turns out, that she’s been going through a lot of stuff, both health-wise and emotionally wise. A lot of stuff I could relate to.  And she’s been reclusive and talked about that and it was simply so nice to hear that she had withdrawn herself from friendships. While it wasn’t an apology, per se, it was this breath of fresh air to my soul. I can pursue a friendship to the end of the earth if I know that other person wants to be my friend, even if they can’t put in as much effort because of life stuff happening.

We have plans to talk again next week. I’m hoping that this is the restart of something beautiful.

Always a bridesmaid, never a…

Beer Bouquet

…well, we all know that phrase doesn’t really apply to me, since I’m clearly married. But seriously, the amount of weddings I’ve been in the past two years is ridonkulous. But, this weekend I got to see my junior high/high school/college friend Marie get hitched in “Seattle” (okay, out in the toolies of Snohomish), and it was SO MUCH FUN. Granted, I am walking like a zombie since Potamus is sick and I’ve been working on three-ish hours of sleep for almost a week. I’m also stuffed up and not sleeping well, thanks to some killer hydrangea and cottonwood allergies. Yay!

College Buddies

Central throws team

What is fun about college friendships is getting to reunite at weddings. Two of her bridesmaids and I were on the same track team in college. While I wasn’t super close to these girls in college, we were acquantences, and had A BLAST getting caught up and doing totally stupid college things, like pretending to be cheerleaders (hilarious since we threw shotputs and were not in the slightest bit girly in athletics).

trying our best to be cheerleaders, this is as far as we got

trying our best to be cheerleaders, this is as far as we got

Marie's angels

Marie’s angels

Look, over yonder, a great bridesmaid photo op!

Look, over yonder, a great bridesmaid photo op!

The wedding had to be moved indoors because of threat of rain, so after the ceremony we took some sweet pictures outside. Marie was less than thrilled about my suggestion to climb into the waterfall for pictures, so we had to wait until she was firmly out of site to take our moment…




we throw shotputs. we are amazons.

we throw shotputs. we are amazons.



While stressful at moments, everything went of pretty much without a hitch. Things got delayed here and there, and sometimes tensions were high, but I loved that the bridesmaids all bonded together. Weddings are funny, they’re kinda like summer camp when you bond with people and you become fast friends and then you basically never see them again. Ha!






It was a beautiful ceremony and I am so happy that my friend is married. Her sweetheart is quite a guy and they are perfect for each other. I love it when couples complement each other so well!


I was worried about leaving Potamus for such a long time (we didn’t get home until after 11), but he did just fine with grandma and grandpa. He actually slept better there than over here, which is annoying! So it was nice that Boof and I got to cut a rug on the dance floor sans baby. All in all, exhausting, I am sore in places I didn’t know I could be sore (too much jumping, dancing, climbing over waterfalls), so I’m happy that it’s a short work week!

Our Favorite Bartender

After dinner, with Potamus tucked quietly into the recliner with grammy, we headed on out to a little local bar that employs our favorite bartender. Yes, we have a favorite bartender. Back when Boof and I were dating, his sister was still living at home, and his other sister would come down from Bellevue for a weekly happy hour. And this bartender was the kind of guy you could say, “just make me something,” and he would come up with the PERFECT drink to compliment whatever mood we were in that night. And he’s sometimes give us complimentary drinks, and we’d tip generously, and have a grand time. And then he moved and got a different job and we didn’t see him again for about two years.

Then, Boof and I got a Groupon for a local bar/restuarant and lo and behold, there was favorite bartender! So, since Boof’s sister is back from Georgia (sans husband this time, boo!), we thought we’d pretend we were back in the good ol’ days and visit with our old friend. And boy he didn’t disappoint! The drinks ranged from rasberry limeade tasting, to a cucumber mixed margarita (maybe strawberry cucumber?) was DELISH. Yes! A fun weekend overall, connecting again as adults, rather than parents and aunties and uncles!

And if the drinks weren’t awesome enough, the mac n’cheese and fried cheese curds from Beecher’s cheese…AMAZING. I know, I know, we’re talking about CHEESE, which I’ve tried to give up, but seriously, this stuff was amazing!

Sometimes it is just really good to get out, get a drink, and act like a “kid” again!