There are as many ways to bond with those around you as there are people in the world. Some may strike up conversations about last night’s episode of The Walking Dead or about the drink of the month while at their favorite coffee spot. Those of us here at BTR discuss the ways in which we bond with friends, family, and everyone else.
As an avid fan of television, I spend a good chunk of my time watching television–whether or not I’m with my friends. However, watching and talking about the TV shows I’ve been watching or catching up on is how I bond with my friends both new and old. I have made new friends based on my love of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I have argued with strangers over episodes of The Flash, and I have listened to my best friend detail the entire last season of True Blood (since I refused to watch it).
In fact, one of my friends and I will watch TV together, even when we’re hours away from each other. If we’re both free, we’ll pick a show to watch–like Nashville or American Horror Story–and text each other throughout the episode as a way to spend time together when we can’t physically be together. When that doesn’t work out, we’ll recommend new shows for each other to watch and then report back on what we enjoyed, what we hated, or another show we think the other should check out that’s even better.
Television may not inherently be a social hobby, and may even encourage isolation, but there’s no reason why that has to be true for everyone. Talking about last night’s episode of the big show may be a stereotypical water cooler conversation, but if you find people who share your interest in comic book TV shows or the new Netflix series, there’s no reason you can’t form a stronger bond than light office chit-chat.
When I meet up with friends, my preferred way to spend a little time with them is to sit down over coffee. Whether it’s from the machine, at home, or at a cafe, it’s nice to just shoot the breeze with people and drink some quality coffee–iced, hot or Frappuccino’d. As Agent Dale Cooper would say, it’s “damn fine.”
The main reason I like getting coffee is because it doesn’t feel formal or committal, in the way that going out to a restaurant or bar might. You and the person you’re with can stay as long as you want or get back to whatever you’re doing, which makes it a perfect outing for however much free time you have.
Drinking good coffee is just as satisfying on a work break as it is on a weekend. The atmosphere fits well too; coffee shops like Starbucks provide a nice environment that I’ve always found just loosens up discussion. Nowadays, there’s one around every corner in major cities, in addition to independent shops.
I like going to movies and concerts with friends a lot, but sometimes I don’t really feel like I’m spending time with them, since we’re both silent watching something in a dark room. That’s not an issue I have when I go out for coffee, so it makes for a great casual bonding experience. Even if the other person doesn’t show up, you at least have your drink!
When I want to spend quality time and bond with people in my life, it all comes down to food. Growing up, my parents placed a huge emphasis on sitting down the four of us (my sister, mom, dad, and myself) for a home-cooked meal every evening. Ritual prescribed that we not begin eating until everybody was in their chairs at our cherrywood dinner table. Once we were all seated, we’d dig in, heaping generous portions onto our plates and chowing down. After the initial ravenous rush towards the food, we’d discuss our days, projects we were working on, or politics and current events.
Today, whether it’s with family, friends, or romantic interests, my favorite way to bond is over a delicious meal. I especially love cooking for those who I care about–inviting them into my home for a taste of something that comes from the heart. Preparing the food together takes that experience one step further, because when you finally sit down to enjoy your meal, you share this overwhelming pride at having created something together. However, I tend to be a bit of a control freak in the kitchen, and can only delegate tasks to people who I really trust, so chances are if we’re not already close you’re not cooking with me anytime soon.
On a beautiful Saturday, the loveliest way to spend my time with companions is with lunch and a trip to any one of New York City’s sprawling museums. Luckily as an NYU student I can get into almost all of them for free. An afternoon at a museum, particularly the Met, is a great way to fill up an afternoon with thoughtful and engaging experiences. I particularly enjoy the American Wing, where I often take a break to enjoy coffee for a caffeine kick and leisurely conversation. Looking at art with friends and having delightful discussions on the Rothko’s, admiring the murals that depict sprawling American landscapes, and walking through the Ancient Egyptian sun-lit foyer are all stimulating and fun. The experience is an intellectual pursuit that is not a drag. A trip to the museum is a fulfilling way to learn more about your friends and share ideas about culturally relevant pieces.
Visiting museums with loved ones is a great way to bond. Ultimately, in my mind, those days create better lasting memories than all the Saturdays we spend in bed talking to each other on Facebook about what to order from Seamless.
I love New York for the maelstrom of rapture and madness that constitutes life each day in the city. But sometimes the need to get out–to breathe air that has known trees or to feel my feet on the soft rot of a forest floor–feels like a matter of physical necessity. I think my favorite memories made with close friends in recent years have all begun by packing a bag, hopping on a train or in a car, and heading north in search of natural wonder.
There’s no comparison to an impromptu trip taken in good company. Better still is the feeling of returning to the city with the experience held between you, a secret to be buried between city streets. The contrast cast by stark dark grit never fails to elevate the day’s events to something next to sacred.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s apple picking Upstate in autumn, hiking in the Catskills in spring, or small town-hopping in summer. It doesn’t matter where we go at all. One time, a friend and I hopped a train without having a destination in mind and found ourselves two hours later on the Appalachian Trail, our perspectives on the world renewed. Another time, two friends and I broke down on the side of the highway and wound up in blissful conversation that melted our hours. We spent the bulk of the day sitting in the back seat of the car in Sleepy Hollow while mechanics fumbled over the transmission. It was as good an excursion as any.
Ultimately, I can’t think of a better way to spend a day than by wrapping my world in adventure and revelry with people I love.
Featured photo courtesy of Pedro Ribeiro Simoes.