I’m not telling, I’m asking. I have a long, glorious list of friends going back 40 years. Childhood, Junior High, High School, College, and the ones I have made at all my grown up jobs along the way. If I’m lucky, I see some of them once a year. Some of them every 5 years.

I enjoy my quiet life. While my friends have gotten married, I have spent the last decade counting them disappear into email and Facebook likes. Before I realized it was actually happening, it started with inviting all of them to celebrate birthdays with me. I’d be so excited when they would all accept and I knew that mixing my different groups of friends would be really fun. In my early 20s, it always panned out. But as I got older, everyone would still accept and then suddenly about 24 hours ahead, the declines would start coming….”I have to go to a funeral, I threw my back out running yesterday, I forgot my husband had his work party….etc.”. There were concerts I bought tickets for many times and had a friend cancel at the last minute leaving me in the hole for a hundred bucks and not able to go at all since it was too late to find someone else to go. None of them thought this stuff was a big deal. It was. It was devastating. I spent a lot of time crying during times I had expected to have amazing, fun plans with people I loved and admired.

I had a handful of friends in my 20s I was never without. Every day I was out with one of them even if it was just doing errands, sitting around listening to cds, or going out to eat. And, we talked on the phone all the time. I thought I would be buying coffee and bras with them forever. Eventually we’d have our husbands and do weekend barbecues. They’d have kids and I’d babysit. My calendar would be full of all the kids’ birthdays and I’d have a collection of cards and 20$ bills I’d be sending them every year. I’d go to their birthday parties. I’d swing by the hospital when they were born. I’d be the one planning baby and wedding showers for everyone. It just never happened. Everyone moved on without me.

During my 30s I started to teach myself to go to movies alone, to eat out alone and to even travel alone. I started going to concerts alone. I shopped alone. I purposely put myself out of commission on my birthdays by being away and unreachable for the day simply to avoid the disappointment of waiting around all day for someone to reach out who never would. My birthdays have suddenly become the saddest day of the year. My friends don’t think their birthdays are that big a deal. I guess one must get used to always having someone to give them a gift, make them a card or take them out as happens when you are in a relationship, get married and have kids.

I work with a handful of great people I see most days. They make me laugh like crazy and we have a lot of common experiences because we speak the same work language. But I don’t see them outside work functions. They are in relationships and have other things to do. Why else would I go to the Cape every weekend? I have nobody waiting on me to make plans. I have friends who occasionally ask if I want to meet up but the plans never materialize or they cancel at the last minute. No big deal except I spend my whole week looking forward to it and wondering what to wear. And I tell my work friends about my plans only to have to later admit they never happened whenever I’m asked “how was dinner with your friend?” Can you imagine the embarrassment last year when I had to share I was going on my legendary friend vacation alone?

Don’t get me wrong. My life isn’t bad. I’m not unhappy. I love my text messages and Facebook activity with my friends. I do feel in touch with friends every day because of social media and I am grateful. I have a great dog who keeps me company. I eat out whenever I feel like it. I am old hand at sitting at bars by myself. I actually look forward to traveling on my own. I’m sure as much as I miss being with my friends all the time, they likely miss their independent days to some extent. They love their children and all the activities that ensue but probably do wish they could just hang out with me at a bar on a Friday night. But they can’t and suddenly 15 years go by when you realize you stopped enjoying chimichangas and strawberry daiquiris because that friend has 3 kids. You haven’t had an omelet and milkshake at a 24 hour diner because you haven’t seen that friend in 10 years and you are now lactose intolerant. You haven’t had your gorgeous best friend play wing woman at the club where all the coast guard/marines/navy guys hang out because she’s married with a 10 year old kid and new career. You can’t swing by the soccer field and have a cup of coffee with your mom friends because, while they would welcome you, they live an hour away. You used to see your 2 best friends once a year, on schedule, but can’t anymore because sometimes spouses just become uncomfortable about it and I guess that’s ok too.

I read an article today that says it takes spending 90 hours with someone to become friends and 200 hours to become close friends. I still have that kind of time but no one else does. Is this what it’s always going to be like since I never got married? Are my 90 and 200 hours 20 years behind me?