Sunday, November 27, 2011

Making East Coast Friends...

I moved to the East Coast six months ago, and since arriving, I've spent most of my free time making new friends.  It's what I do.  I go out.  I network.  I meet people.  I introduce myself to complete strangers.  I become new friends with my friends' friends.  Heck, I even joined a kickball team, and of course, I go to the happy hours.  You get the point..

From all this social activity, I've honestly and proudly made friends with other twenty-somethings who have also settled and now live in DC.  These new friends hail from the Midwest, the Southwest, the South and even from so far as the West Coast (all places I've also lived), but also those who have been here from the beginning--and are still here--the "East Coasters."  This bunch, however, has been the most difficult to befriend, but why?

Without a doubt, the East Coasters maintain an "air of reservation," which I have come to understand.  Perhaps, East Coasters might lack some trust for those of us who subscribed to Manifest Destiny (but there is something to be said about the fact we all say "go back East" and "head out West").  The simple fact that East Coasters are the most difficult of all Americans to warm up to and befriend, from my experience, unequivocally stems from the reasons derived from these observations:

First, East Coasters are more reserved.  They let on much less (and a lot less at first) to new people, friends and strangers.  Therefore, it takes longer to really get to know them, and they also reserve much more about who they are, what they do and who they know.  Maybe this is because they have larger and more numerous circles of friends, but it might also have to do with old money: how far back their families go into America's history and how politically, socially, and/or financially connected their namesake might be (and don't even begin to ask about their family's coat of arms).  Nevertheless, those who have lived on the East Coast their whole lives, along with their parents, grandparents, and their grandparents' parents (who were probably Pilgrims) just don't warm up very easily.  I've even experienced this with women dating back to my very first girlfriend in high school (who was from Middletown, NY) to the more recent pursuit with a wonderful East Coast woman.  I've also experienced this with new East Coast guy friends who look at me strangely when I make commitments early, easily, or tell them I can do this or that without thinking through it all for more than a moment.  It's fair I get those looks from my East Coast buddies, and to be honest, West Coasters are synonymous with flakiness.  This I know.

Second, East Coasters are just busier, and their busyness largely results from allowing an insurmountable amount of nightly and weekly events onto their plates (which I have also started to do..).  Yet, it also has to do with making decisions about where they go and what they do in their free time a bit more carefully.  From what I've collected in the last six months, it takes a lot more vetting from an East Coaster before they commit to (let alone attend) an event, get-together, happy hour, etc.  Trust me, I've tried them on all fronts--from happy hours to fundraisers, dinners to visiting local art galleries.  It just takes more persistance, more eagerness, and you must always be honest with them, both about what to expect, but more importantly, who will be there.  East Coasters will always fulfill their commitments, which is in stark contrast to West Coasters (sorry, I had to go there), but it also takes a lot more to get their commitment.  In DC, this is more of a commonality than anywhere else because, (I mean, come on) it's DC, so you never know who's going to be out where you're going or who that stranger might know--about you, your organization, your boss or your coworkers while you're out doing your thing.  Thus, East Coasters are more reserved (see #1 above).

Third, East Coasters are more selective, but please, allow me to explain this before my East Coast friends take offense.  By this point, I simply mean that East Coasters allow a much smaller spectrum of West Coast's (et al.) fashion, style, dialects, lingo, slang, and demeanor into their diaspora.  Although the East Coast can stake their claim in the moon of style and fashion (Manhattan), and the various movements across the nation either spur from the East Coast or just plainly do not survive (read: Ed Hardy and tribal  tattoos).  Basically, most of what bleeds TMZ is really a recipe for disaster amongst the East Coast high crust/brow.  As well, East Coasters' appreciation for tradition (but not traditional), and their preservation of continuity is instrumental to their selectivity, which exists.

Fourth and finally, East Coasters have more depth.  I know I'll catch a lot of shit from some Cali friends about this, but if you read this post, you'll understand my claim..  In no specific order, East Coasters create better invitations, write more meaningful emails, leave lengthier voicemails, entertain thoughts longer, delve deeper into the emotions one feels, stay out later or longer (and to make sure you're home safe), tell you their thoughts without sacrificing their emotions, and they get straight to the point on matters.  Does this all come from their mutual concern for not letting on to others as easily and being more selective?  I think that truly plays a big part, but I also think that this nation has a melting pot of truly different people who are a conglomerate of their whereabouts.

In conclusion, I've merely tried to note a few of the qualitative differences between the people I've grown to know from living in the different parts of the nation.  My basic premise was that East Coasters have been the most difficult to befriend, and this feeling hasn't changed in the course of writing this post, but one thing is for sure, the sustainability of friendship with the few East Coasters I have made (and cherish) are unprecedented friendships.  They've not been fair-weather friends, they've given the best advice, and they've truly been there.

Night and day, I'm becoming more and more an East Coaster: more reserved, busier, more selective, and a deeper human being.  I've also been committing more of myself to the relationships I currently have (both here and afar), creating lasting friendships but also making inroads for a way of life that might soon proscribe to what's above.  However, I can only culminate as an East Coaster from my upbringing in the Midwest (Indiana), Southwest (Arizona), the South (Texas), and the West Coast (California), but never in spite of this whatsoever...

...who can relate?


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