DEAR HARRIETTE: About a year ago, I moved cross-country to New York. I tried to stay in contact with my old friends, but I pretty much lost touch with all of them.
I recently found out that one of my best friends from where I used to live is visiting New York and wants to see me. Of course I said yes, but I am nervous that it will be awkward and that we will run out of things to say in the first five minutes.
We used to be so close. How do I get things back to the way they were? -- Blast From the Past, Staten Island, N.Y.
DEAR BLAST FROM THE PAST: Stop beating yourself up. Take a deep breath and then accept that you have to live in the present. You cannot make things the way they were, so stop trying.
Think about what kinds of activities your friend might enjoy. Plan a schedule of fun things to do in New York that will pleasantly occupy your time. People who live in the city rarely do the touristy things, but they can be fun. Consider a visit to the Statue of Liberty, Freedom Tower and Central Park as options.
As far as topics for discussion, ask about your friend's life. People usually like to talk about themselves, so chances are good that your friend will start talking and you can be a good listener. Interject when it feels natural.
In turn, you can talk about your life, your work and what you do for fun. Just be you. There's no need to apologize for not being in touch. Stay in the present, and enjoy each other's company. It's likely you won't feel that awkward space that you anticipate.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who is a really talented singer and who loves to perform. She is smart, funny and immensely talented. I really think she has what it takes to make it in the music business if she just tried, but she says she doesn't want to. However, I think she does; she is just too scared.
Should I push her to follow her dreams or just let her make her own choices? -- (Sort of) Stage Mom, Gallup, N.M.
DEAR STAGE MOM: Only your friend can make the decision to go for this musical dream. What you can do is introduce her to activities in your town or nearby that may expose her to professional music options. For example, if there's a local musical theater, buy tickets and take her to see a performance. If your local library or YMCA hosts music classes, you can give her a class as a gift. That may spark her interest in further pursuing her musical talents.
It is possible your friend will continue to sing only as a hobby. That's OK, too.