Alone at Last§

writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: July 24, 2006; revised: August 31, 2017; readers in past month: 566

I’ve never been very good at keeping friends. I have no problem making them, just keeping them for long. The factor which brings me together with new friends is usually the same factor by which I am able to retain them. When that factor is lost, so are the friends. For instance, if I meet someone and become friends with them in a work place, because we work for the same employer in the same office, I can keep that friend as long as I can keep the job. When I lose the job, I almost always will lose the friend shortly afterwards. There have only been a few exceptions to this in my life — and most of those have been lost over the last few years.

Living here in Italy, coming from a different culture and not speaking the language very well, it is difficult for me to make friends. There are two methods in which I make new friends here: I meet a new friend at a store where they work or I meet them from an advertisement for a language exchange partner. For those I am friends with through their store, usually I can only interact with them by stopping by their store. This works for a while before I have a few times in which I stop by when they’re busy — I usually leave quickly, but the result is that I begin to feel like a pest and become perceived as one for disturbing them at work. So, I stop visiting them.

The other method, langauge exchange is not a good basis for a friendship. Friendships should be based on similar interests or attitudes. A language exchange partner has an interest in talking my language and I in learning theirs. However, even this seemingly common interest is not a common basis for a friendship — we’re not interested in studying the same language, or at least not at the same level. The result is that we meet one or two times and then I never hear from them again. In recent months I’ve made friends with a few people through language exchange, but they eventually grew tired of the relationship: primarily because it wasn’t based enough on commonalities. Also, I suspect that a couple of them, who are women, were interested in me for romantic reasons. While I may have been willing to explore a relationship with them on a romantic basis, since that is not how we started and they gave no indication otherwise, I was reluctant to take this path. Instead, I thought to pursue a friendship first and to see about romance later if the friendship lasted. Unfortunately, in a couple of cases, I think the women were not interested in me as a friend, but as a romantic interest. When I did not show a romantic interest they dropped me: they ignored my calls and emails, completely. It’s very hurtful. For me, friendship is a component of love. For a woman to say in her actions, “I’m not interested in you as a friend, just for sex and as a lover,” this is hurtful.

Anyway, while I made about twenty new friends since I’ve been in Italy for the last nine months, I now have none. And since the hurricane and since moving to Europe and many other separation factors, I’ve lost all of my friends in the U.S. except for a few and those are fading fast.

I came to Italy to be alone, to finish what I started and alone I am very much becoming.