The logistics of friendship

For some reason or another, I’ve always been “the planner.” When it comes to my group of friends, anywhere I go..I’m always the working out the logistics involved in getting people together..be it for dinner on a Friday night, or for a semi-spontaneous weekend in NYC. I’ve always enjoyed this role (probably cause I’m slightly controlling ;)),.. but I have to admit, that it’s not without its frustrations.

Now, it just so happens that most of my friends here in Miami work full-time jobs and are also in school full-time, as was the case with me up until I left for Beirut a year and a half ago. The other thing I realized is that 95% of my friends work jobs with non-traditional working hours. Not only that, but their work schedule changes week to week, and sometimes day to day..(again, as was the case with me.) So, it’s not uncommon for them to work 9-6 one day, 5-10 the other, and 2-8 the next..

So picture this..6 friends..all with different work schedules, school schedules, family, boyfriend, and personal obligations..and you can see where it gets difficult for me (aka. the planner) to somehow find a time, date, and place that works for everyone. NOT TO MENTION, we live between 30 – 40 minutes away from each other depending on traffic!!

The logistics of friendship

All this to say, I’ve been home for a few weeks now and have only managed to see 2 of my friends on 1 single occasion. I got to a point where I had to resort to using Facebook and email to plan a night out since phone and text were just proving wayyy too complicated. Either my friends are just THAT busy, or they don’t want to see me! (I seriously hope it’s the former and not the latter!)

This insane amount of back and forth (mind you, these are people I’ve known for at least 10 years), made me think about what I like to call “the logistics of friendship…” and how proximity and lifestyle really do play a role in how relationships progress in any given place.

The logistics of friendship

You see, when it comes to friendships, and the rate at which they develop, my experience in Lebanon has been completely opposite from what I just described. Any given night, I can put my planning skills to work and guarantee that about 8 – 10 people will show up…Hell, I think it’s even easier to plan a 35 person tweetup in 2 days in Beirut, than it is to try and get 3 of my friends in Miami to meet at the same place within a 2 week period!

The one thing I have to say is that because it’s so difficult to come up with a plan that is convenient to everyone..usually when it’s set..it’s SET. The cancellation rate is significantly lower than what I’ve experienced in Beirut..

someecards

However….when I compare Miami vs. Beirut in terms of the frequency that I see my friends/hangout/socialize..I have to say that Beirut takes the cake by farrrrrr! Even if (some) people have the tendency to cancel frequently, it really isn’t hard to come up with something equally as exciting in under 30 minutes. Ohhhh,,the perks of living in a small city..

When I really think about it, I must go out an average of 5-6 times a week (what can I say? I’m a social butterfly! ;)), And the other thing I noticed is that Lebanese people are nowhere near as anal about only going out/partying only on weekends. During the week? Weekend? It’s the same to the Lebanese! Which, I looooove by the way! Work hard and play HARDER.

To any of you who have lived abroad at some point in your life..what are the differences you’ve experienced in terms of the dynamics of friendship between that place and Lebanon? To those of you who haven’t, how do you go about planning nights out with your friends? Are you the planner among your group of friends?

The logistics of friendship

Me and my diverse group of friends..

23 Comments

Filed under life in Lebanon, Miami

23 responses to “The logistics of friendship

  1. Morning! Its 8 am in beirut and 25degrees!
    I have experienced the same thing with friendship, i need to plan months ahead to meet my friends in denmark when i go visit during summer vacation, very frustrating when you know that you can plan anything here in beirut within few hours! This shows that we in lebanon have a difficult time planning anything ahead, thus everything can be spontanuous and chaotic, maybe consequences of 35 years of war and political unstability? I have gotten used to the lebanese way, but miss some degree of long term planning when it comes to life, work, etc…greetings from lebanon!

    • It’s months ahead in Denmark? No way! I can’t believe that Leila! So you must be emailing/facebooking/skyping for a long time before you even get there! What a PAIN! Wow,.,didn’t think it could get worse than Miami, but it just has.

      When people ask me what is it that draws me to Lebanon, I always say “the social life.” It truly is effortless (for the most part) and unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before. And I’ve been around.😀

      That being said, I 100% agree with you that this same attitude is what is responsible for the lack of long term planning..but I guess you can’t get it all, right? My friends here are so busy “long term planning” that they don’t have time to live in the present moment! So which is better/worse?

  2. I hear ya! Planning is such a chore here. I miss the spur of the moments in Jordan as well!

  3. Youssef Chaker

    planning an event for a group of friends is so easy (the only difficult part is choosing the what, and even that can be managed), yet it seems that not many are successful at it. and it’s funny you brought that up, because I was having this conversation just yesterday.

    I think I’ve told you this already, my friends in Lebanon don’t see each other when I’m not there. They’ve all known each other longer that I’ve known them, and been best friends all that time (I changed schools the last 3 years, whereas they had been together in the same one since they were 3 years old). So you’d think they would be more motivated than me, to pick up the phone and hang out. But they don’t do it. So every year, it’s the same conversation on the first time we hang out: “when did we last see each other?” “I don’t know, youssef when was the last time you were here?”… never fails!

    I did the same thing in the US, I organized frequent dinners for all Lebanese at UVA (cause I was the only one who actually knew all of them). And I tried to make it a tradition that could keep on going, and attempted to motivate one of the younger ones to keep it up even after i graduate, but that attempt failed!

    But to your point, in Lebanon I sent a mass SMS a few hours before and then everyone shows up. In the US, I had to use facebook events and plan it a few days if not a week before. The funny part is that it was Lebanese people in both cases😛

    What I have noticed is that there is a big factor of laziness envolved. Although it’s not that difficult of a task. As well as a difficulty for some people to challenge the status quo. Wake up, got to work/class, come back, eat and sleep. My friend told me this on the last night I was in Lebanon this past time “F U. you came, agitated our life, got us used to being active and social and now you’re leaving again”. Sums up my life pretty much🙂

    I do also have a suggestion for you: really, you don’t have to organize an event for 10 people, start with one person, maybe two, and then if the others fit in, that’s great, otherwise it’s their loss. Sometimes you’d be surprised and people’s schedules start freeing up. When people think you’re going to accomodate them, they won’t make an effort, but when they realize you’re not they’ll make an effort to make it work.

    • Youssef and his “longer than my post” comments. (I love it!)

      I didn’t know that you used to plan meetups for the Leb community at UVA. That’s cool! Man,,too bad that your prodigy couldn’t continue the tradition after you. Seriously man? Why aren’t more people inspired to take initiative? Especially when it comes to something as fun as socializing? Makes no sense to me.

      But what’s even more shocking is the fact that your Lebanese friends (who probably live very close to each other seeing as they went to the same school) don’t see each other when you’re not there. Now that’s just shameful! But I have to say it’s pretty similar with my friends here too! I was just out with two girlfriends last night, who have known each other since elementary school (I want to say since they were 10) and haven’t seen each other since I left to Beirut the FIRST time (December 2009!) And they live not even 5 minutes away from each other! Shame shame shame!

      And just to clarify, I don’t always organize nights for 10 people..many a time, I only go out with 1 or 2 of my closest friends. But my point was, that with little to no effort, I can get a lot of people to come out..instead of having to plan weeks in advanced with my friends here..😉

      Thanks for the amazing comment as usual buddy.😀

      • Youssef Chaker

        btw, just a funny piece of information about my long comments. When I start them, there is usually no one who has commented before me. But by the time i’m done, one or two sneak in (like it is the case for this post).
        okay, going back to watching the cat chase bugs before this comments gets long too😉

  4. @darelakhdar

    Awesome post Dani! Loving the ecards hehehe

    I can identify with the planner bit as well and I guess this is why you’ve always worked in/around PR no?🙂

    And you’re right it helps in Lebanon that we’re uber-social and that the town is small enough to gather more people at any given time

    I’m sure it doesn’t encourage you to hop into a car and commute 30 minutes to meet with someone at a coffee shop in the States or Canada – whereas over here, sometimes all you need is 5-10 minutes on foot!

    • Yeah, I guess you’re right. I’ve always worked in a position where socializing was a requirement..hahaha. What can I say? I’m good at it!

      But yeah..being in Lebanon makes it much easier for a planner like me to actually get people mobilized! Logistically speaking it takes a lot less work, and people aren’t so hung up in their day to day chores..

  5. Cool post ! If I trust the publishing time, I’d say the 7-hour difference is working out well for this blog😛

    What really gets to me about being the planner is that just because I tend to take the initiative, my friends have kind of sunk into this habit of just waiting for a ready-made plan that they can either approve or decline..

    Not to mention that when you have friends who hardly ever check their phones/facebook it gets really frustrating.. Two hours before you’re supposed to meet, you still don’t know who’s coming..

    Here’s a skill I’d like to acquire: training people to do more planning themselves😛 I tried not planning anything and see if someone else would take the initiative, I ended up staying at home for a couple weeks.. I’m starting to think my friends don’t really like me😛

    • Yeahhh..the 7 hour difference is working out for me..although sometimes I can’t “time” when I’m going to feel inspired to write a post if you know what I mean. Sometimes it comes to me first thing in the morning (which is already late afternoon in Lebanon) and sometimes it comes to me late at night in Miami (early morning in Lebanon) so I just have to go with when it feels right..😀

      Yeah, I totally feel you. It’s like once you have designated yourself as “the planner” it’s like no one does ANYTHING without you!! I tried your same exercise of not planning anything..but then, just like you, I end up staying home! Why the hell are people so lazy? Where is the INITIATIVE! Sheeesh! Can someone say annnnnnooyyying?

      Or,,the flipside of that is that they choose a time/place/price that is most convenient/desirable to them..completely disregarding the other people in the group. Which is equally as uncomfortable! So it seems like I will forever be stuck in this role! Glad I’m not the only one getting stood up tho. lol.

  6. Organizing has good sides and bad sides…
    However i just wanted to draw our attention to online tools i use while planning meetings, maybe it could work for you:
    http://www.doodle.com/
    Hope it helps…
    Best.
    B.

    • I read about this service in a book the other day. Thanks Bernard..but don’t you think it’s a bit pathetic that it takes an online service to get friends (who have known each other for a decade) together?😉

  7. During 4 years in London(UK), my social life was quite busy, fun and easy to plan. I’d say that London comes directly after Beirut. I was also able to enjoy a social life in France although I am not a francophile and I was betting on my stay in France to be bad but it turned out great.

    I was expecting to have an awesome time when I moved to live in California last year. Mainly because I studied at American schools, I sound American, I enjoy American culture, I follow closely what happens in America, I listen to American rock and alternative bands (I can’t survive without my daily dose of Creed) and I am addicted to nearly all American reality and drama tv shows – you name it, I know it all. What’s missing is an Aneeican citizenship lol that’s how I engrossed in things America I am.

    So when I went to California, I expected to have the blast of all blasts and instead, it was very disappointing. I was unable to make not even one valuable friendship there. That’s mainly because you need a car because everything is spread out and without a car, it’s nearly impossible to even think of socialising.

    I’m back in Lebanon now and I’m having the best time socialising, partying, beaching and I love it. And I still manage to work on my thesis at night.

  8. mmm after checking the picture, may I join once u get the time and date for that get together? lol

    I’ve experienced the same when I lived in Florida and always ended up after work with my 1 Lebanese friend. Every other colleague or friend was worried about getting back home, resting and getting ready for the next work day while we would be out prolly till close time.

  9. Henri

    I call bull on the correlation between ease of socializing and size of city. It’s just preety far to get Rabieh, Hazmieh and Verdun people to meet, but it works easily nonetheless. The major difference is that Lebanese are socialites. They NEED to see friends🙂

  10. I’m always the “planner” too🙂
    Hope you’re able to see your friends soon (may I suggest stalking their workplace :P)
    Ou and I’m glad you mentioned the Lebanese “cancellation” tendency… it’s so annoying!

  11. I think I am becoming like you’re friends in Miami, and now you make the Lebanese way much more appealing. This is especially the case since I have chosen work instead of sleep tonight. Lord, bring me salvation.
    Anyway,
    I lived in an American community in Qatar, and Lebanon wins by far! Americans are too keen on personal space, and the formalization of the friend/acquaintance dichotomy. They’re just a more strict and formal people. They’re also very achievement-oriented, something the Lebanese could learn a little from.
    The Lebanese on the other hand are much less formal, plan less, and improvise more. They also don’t have a strong belief in personal space so their relationships and outings are much more casual-something the Americans can learn a little from.🙂

    PS: Love the ecards. I should be working, but I’m busy thinking about which friends I should send these too! haha

  12. Lee

    I pick the blonde in the middle… lol
    PS: on a more serious note, I also enjoy reading ur blogs… not all of them but most :p :d

  13. Racha

    At this age, 23, moving to Lebanon and “trying” to make new friends is hard. Especially when you don’t go to school, at work I feel like everyone doesn’t really socialize and keep to themselves. In Canada, the environment was usually more welcoming and friendly! Girls, aren’t so eager to let the “new girl” into their social ring… Don’t really get it, but that’s what i’ve noticed. Please correct me if i’m wrong.

  14. Visual Merchandising from Perú……..jack silva.

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