My first wave of sincere friends left me – in Saigon
After two years of affectionate tolerance both Pontus Anders and Anders Jonas , my Anders, left Saigon for London and China. Their selfish departures coincided with Love in the Time of Corona, and left a thirty-year-old me without my Swedish boys and any close friends. Come 2020, I had to embark on a journey to make new friends after 30
Having moved quite a bit in my 20s, I know the formula to making new friends is a young man’s greatest fear – commitment. Commitment to showing up to club activities that enrich your mind, body and soul.
Here are the five steps that get you off your ass and into someone else’s life
1. Befriend someone with a life
I was lucky to connect with Saigon socialite Mikey Brenker. Mikey’s loud east coast persistence pushed me out of my comfortable apartment. For the first few months of 2020, Mikey patiently pestered me on to new people and clubs.
2. Enrich your mind: Chess Club
To enrich my mind and make friends with Eastern Europe’s finest. I committed to a bi-weekly chess club – populated by those who grew up “In Soviet Union” without video games. Chess club connects me to the dormant grumpy Black Sea spirit that cohabits with the cheerful California Roll in my soul.
Chess club isn’t only about the game. It is about the board talk. Unable to travel, spending a Saturday in leather love seats conversing with Vlad, Vlad, and Vlad is an imaginative substitute for touring through Sovietia.
3. Enrich your mind: Age of Empires
As a child, my Jersey boys and I played Age of Empires, a game teaches children the inseparable nature of the military-industrial complex. Gentlemen from the running club and play Age of Empires on Friday nights. Through the inexplicable magic of the World Wide Web, I’ve even pulled my original NJ-homeboys into the fray with online matches.
4. Enrich your Body: Running Club
Mikey introduced Trinh and I to the Saigon Monday Hash. A group of adults who run through the city. Hashing is a tag-like game where a group of “hounds” chases down one person running like a hare – a British rabbit. The hare leaves clues on the ground as they run through the city. Hounds shout “On-On” whenever they spot a clue.
It was easy to commit to the Hash because exercise is “good for you”. An easy justification for showing up week-after-week while gradually bonding with your co-exercisers. Hash running club is eye-opening, we explore all strata of Saigon’s. In October, Trinh and I shared the leader-of-the-pack position, with our new friends chasing us all over the city.
5. Enrich your Soul: Speaking Club
After flirting with the idea of joining the strict Saigon ToasterMasters, I picked the light-hearted Points of Interests speaking club. A collection of talkative people who share their interests through free workshops.
Immediately after attending my first Points of Interest event, I volunteered to share my strategy and pitiful experience leaving Facebook. Over the next two weeks, I sketched out a funny, engaging, and personal presentation covering my lived-experience being cooler than you and leaving Facebook gradually. Since my time in the spotlight, I’ve enjoyed attending others’ workshops and making friends in an overtly hip community of people who think others would enjoy hearing what they have to say.