Games with Friends

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships lately, specifically male friendships. Honestly, I’ve been thinking a lot about masculinity, male relationships, family, and life past the age of thirty. I came across this article the other day The Legion Lonely by Stephen Thomas and it hit really close to home. With the exception of being married, I’m just like the author, a 34-year-old man without any friends. Even sadder is that with a quick online search I came across other recent articles on the same topic. For example this Boston Globe piece.

The scary thing is that I’m not some maladjusted shy basement dweller. As far back as I can remember I have always been an extroverted outgoing guy. As a matter of fact, I’ve always been at the center of my social circle. A decade ago weekend events with friends were scheduled weeks in advance. Almost every night I would get a call from a friend wanting to hang out, even if it was just to a late night dinner or coffee.

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Somewhat solitary hobbies.

 

 

So what happened? I got happily married, move away, got a time-consuming career. My friends got happily married, had children, moved away, committed to careers. We all keep in touch, Facebook every now and then, but our relationship is no different than one between any acquaintance on social media. Not enough time. Too much distance. Too much effort.

Now, to be honest I’m perfectly happy. My wife is amazing. We have the best conversation and I love spending time with her. But, I’m also a little bit jealous. She has friends. Girlfriends that she goes hiking with, girlfriends that she goes out of her way to spend time with over lunch. My entire social circle has become her friends and the associated husbands.

It doesn’t help that my hobbies and interests tend to be solitary in nature. It’s hard to make friends when I’m spending hours writing or sitting in a chair reading. Writing fiction in itself is a really strange and lonely endeavor. It requires one to be emotionally extroverted, brave with a hint of narcissism, yet requires hours upon hours of basement dwelling alone time.

The truth is that friendships require effort. I can spend all day making excuses about not having enough time, being tired from work, needing to spend time with the family, on and on, but in the end, I’m in control of the situation. 20170921_174732

So with the above in mind, I’ve decided to make an effort to connect with people and rekindle my interests. I grew up gaming, everything from tabletop RPGs to hex wargames. Right now, being away from my old group, my only game partner is my wife. I gave it some thought and decided that I’m going to make an effort to find others that share my interest or are interested in learning. Interestingly enough last week two different guys at work came up to me and struck up conversations about tabletop games out of the blue.

I’ve decided that I’m not going to wait around for a group to find me. Instead, I’m going to take the lead and set up regular game nights. Invite people that show interest and hopefully create a group of like-minded guys that can share my interest in gaming. When I was young I discovered pen and paper RPGs and became the perpetual DM who always ran games for all my friends, might as well continue to take the lead.

Last week I did just that. I invited a coworker for some gaming and I busted out Sekigahara. I had a great time playing against a new opponent and already other coworkers want to get some gaming on. Sekigahara is a fantastic game but runs a bit long, so I ordered Command & Colors: Napoleonics. A game I can hopefully teach really fast and use as an introduction to tabletop wargaming.

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I did a bit of stickering this weekend.

 

I’m going to make a serious effort to break out of my comfort zone and become more receptive to embracing new hobbies and new opportunities. Becoming a wild-haired, bearded madman recluse isn’t very appealing.

 

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5 thoughts on “Games with Friends

  1. More and more I’m convinced that the “Bowling Alone” problem (http://amzn.to/2hzjYR8) is one of the biggest problems in our society. Capitalism and liberal democracy alone aren’t enough–we need Burke’s little platoons too.

    And more and more I’m convinced the answer to the Bowling Alone problem is literal. Bowling leagues. Or, better yet, a gaming circle. Good luck, is what I’m saying.

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  2. Alex,
    This does seem to be the plight of our “people”. Even before I was married, I was the late bloomer. A lot of my friends were married well before me and had kids and families to take up their time. Leaving me, basically, with no friends. And now I am married with kids and that’s it—we are our only friends. It’s hard to make time beyond job and family and any other priorities you have (such as writing). There’s only 24 hours in a day, and even on your days off, that’s when you need rest and quiet time with our loved ones.
    The only “social” time I get now is online with two of my buddies from back home, playing D&D via “Roll20.” That’s it. At my last command, I’d get away maybe once a month to play Warhammer 40K with my only friend there in Texas.
    So, yeah. Playing games once or twice a month is all I got too.
    And even before I read this blog post, seconds before, actually, I was thinking that you and I should meet before i leave. We work in the same overseas hospital, share internet comments, but have never met. We should fix that. I am getting out in a few months, so time is running short.
    I’m writing this on Friday morning, my day off. I work through the weekend. If you want to BS over coffee or a beer or something tonight or one day next week, let me know!
    Jeremy (jdbrink888@gmail.com)

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    1. I would love to grab a beer or some coffee. This weekend I’m entwined in birthday celebrations for a friend and a going away work event, but anytime in the future. I was actually just thinking about asking you the same thing just now when I was reading your post. For some reason, my WordPress app did not notify me of this comment. I’ll let you pick the time of course because you have the more difficult schedule.

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