I have a “dad friend” I see most afternoons as we’re waiting for our kiddos to get out of school. He walks his kid home every day, and I either walk home or bike home with kiddo (a lot of walking recently because weather and a broken bike have been getting in our way). So, we hang out where all the walking parents hang out and chat for a few minutes before heading home. I’m on the list of approved people to pick his kid up, I keep meaning to add him to the list of approved people to pick kiddo up, our kids have been in the same class for two years in a row, and our shared relationship with the school and our kid’s teacher is pretty much the whole basis of our relationship.
There are plenty of differences between us. He’s got a decade or two on me and at least one grown kid from a previous marriage. I (mostly) grew up here in Kentucky, but left for college in Utah and then grad school in Michigan before coming back to work here. He grew up in Bulgaria and went to college in Moscow before moving here to Lexington—and I think he’s actually lived in Kentucky for longer than I have, even if you didn’t count the decade or so I went away.
Yet, we’ve got a lot in common, too, and so we never run out of things to talk about in our 5-15 minute almost-daily encounters. We both work for the local university, so we talk about that. He actually did a master’s degree in the college I’m in, so we talk about faculty we both know. We both do tech stuff for our jobs, so he asks me what software I use in my data science class (it’s R) and I ask him WordPress and other web development advice, since I teach a bit of that and do a bit of it for professional organizations I’m involved in. Today, we talked about music, and it came out that we both enjoy French rap (or at least one album apiece; his from MC Solaar, mine from Bigflo et Oli) despite neither of us expecting to list that particular genre on our list of favorites.
I’m not great at making or keeping friendships, especially in this period of my life, where keeping my job going, keeping my kid alive and thriving, and keeping my health up seem to take up so damn much of every single day. As I write all of this, it occurs to me that maybe I could do more to turn this “dad friendship” into a different kind of friendship—we live nearby, we have similar interests, and we get along well, so maybe we’d enjoy hanging out outside of this one context? Yet, even if it only ever stays a dad friendship (see the “so damn much” from earlier), it’s really nice to have someone to talk to about kids, work, and other random stuff for a few minutes a day, almost every day. That seems to me to be worthy in and of itself.
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