Will You Be My. . . Friend? Check Yes or No.
By Michelle Sweezey
I moved to Sacramento in July of 2012, expecting to stay maybe two years and knowing all of about five people and almost nothing about the city other than where to buy food in bulk, toothpaste on clearance and clothes from an overeager salesperson in a marble floored, air-conditioned money trap.
I had been to maybe four midtown restaurants and knew exactly one way to get to Sac State, where I had commuted for grad school back in 2005 and which now served zero useful purposes other than to point out in passing to my children and make myself feel important while shouting at them “that’s my alma mater, where I went to school after I went to school after I went to school, just like you will do only you’ll do it at Harvard and for free, mmmkay?”
If it isn’t clear by now, I was a little lost.
I mean, it’s not like I was walking in completely unequipped, but also, I kind of was. I had no babysitters to call from my bathroom floor, no grocery store checkers who knew my name (and my favorite wines), no coffee shops that had my order waiting by the time I got to the cashier, and, possibly the only thing that could be for worse for a single mother with her kids full time and no babysitter network. . .
Honestly, this was the hardest part for me. I am a people person. I like friends. And events. And doing stuff, especially with. . .
So I decided I had better go get, errrr, make some.
Seeing as: a) my kids were too old for mommy and me classes, b) they were attending a private school where I was now the administrator and making friends with their classmates’ parents presented a whole slew of professional implications, and c) I just couldn’t handle any more rejection in my life, I had two options here.
I could either: 1) leech myself onto my neighbors (my only local friends) and hold a nightly pity party, or, 2) Suck it up (buttercup) and go explore my city.
I chose the latter, and as my friend and fellow GOTG writer Brianna Nathan will joke about in her “two degrees of Michelle” analogy, it turned out to be a pretty smart decision.
As it stands today, I have more friends that live here than anywhere else, I live in a kickass little flat right on the border of East Sac and Midtown, and, in case it isn’t obvious yet, I love this city.
LOVE. L-O-V-E. LOVE. In a way I never ever ever ever expected possible. I’m not saying I’ll be here forever, but I am saying that this place is not a stopover on the road to my “real life.” This is my real life, and Sacramento is kind of awesome. Okay, not kind of, it is. Sacramento is awesome.
I won’t (continue to) gush about this little big city I call home, but instead, since I’m pretty sure my single and friendless experience is not one that carries any form of exclusivity, I’ll give you the down low on how I came to be at this current state of community adoration.
Ready to make some new pals? Check this out:
Come Play With Me: How Grown-Ups Make Friends
GO.OUT.SIDE. Seriously. Sacramento is like a giant playground. Don’t believe me? Check out this list we made of 101 things to do in Sacramento this summer. Hint, it’s warm here like 9 months of the year so. . . seasons are a bit arbitrary. Ya know?
Meet-up. It’s like, the coolest, fastest, most user friendly way to find people who like to doing what you do. There is is seriously a group for everyone on this app. Yes, even you. So put on your big girl panties and go, uh, meet some people .
Exercise, exercise and some more exercise. Sacramento has one the the best fitness communities I have ever experienced. From CrossFit, to yoga, to barre, to spin class, even rock climbing, if that’s your thing, if you want to meet people who like to sweat, this is the hot spot. Friends who sweat together, stick together. Literally.
Single? Try a dating app. It’s a super fast way to get out of your comfort zone, meet cool people, and create awkward moments that you can laugh about with your (new) friends over wine, beer, coffee, tea or any other liquid treasures the grid offers.
Go where the people are. As in, #deathbysuburbia is a real thing. Ditch the big box stores and start shopping locally. Check out boutiques, small owner-operated businesses, locally sourced or produced shops and eateries, theaters, farms etc… This is where your community is, and you won’t find them if you’re sitting on your couch watching an entire season of Game of Thrones on a Saturday. Just saying.
Use technology to go live, instead of living vicariously through your screen (see second to last sentence, above, as a point of reference). Check out Sac365 to see what’s happening, look at the events your friends have announced they are (probably) attending on social media, and then GO TO THEM. Bring a kid if you so desire, which, as an aside to all parents,
Take in some culture with your children and teach them how to live in the city. Use public transportation. Let them bag the groceries and ask the cashier questions. Introduce them to your local butcher. Help them chat it up with the food truck chef at at SactoMoFo event. Hit up the museums, festivals, and fine dining establishments (read, not IHOP. . .). Let them calculate the tip, and order off of something other than the damn kids menu. As (another) point of reference, my nine year old’s favorite food is calamari, and my seven year old can now bike the five miles to Raley field, stay for a ballgame, ride another 8 or so miles on the path back to the entrance at 16th street, stop at Coconut Thai with his sister and me for dinner, then hammer out the remaining two miles home on J street. Yes, for real. Seen a ninja turtle helmet around town lately? Ya. That’dbehim.
Network, network and network some more. Sacramento has all kinds of up-and-coming amazing networks for young (and young at heart) professionals. This is where the cool kids are. Want to meet them? I’ve got two words for you: show up.
Consider your social media friend “suggestions” as an actual option to make actual friends. Yes, I have done this (with discretion). Yes, I have then met them in person (in a group), and yes, it turns out we get along swell. Some day I’ll write about “First Day” and you’ll get it. Until then. . . just try it.
Finally, let your friends set you up, like, with other friends. Think about it— if you like them, chances are good you will also like the other people that they like. This is not exactly rocket science. So the next time your co-worker (the one you actually get along with, not the one you avoid in the hallways…) says “you’ve GOT to meet John/Jennifer/Other decades old pop culture name; you two will totally hit it off,” then trust her. She’s probably right.
So get out there and start playing; no more excuses. The time will pass anyway, it’s up to you to choose how to spend it.