Thursday, December 5, 2013

On Friendship

We'll be friends forever.

That same phrase was written over and over in my junior high school yearbook. I still have that yearbook stashed away in a box in the basement, much to my husband's dismay. He would like to be able to walk through our storage room without tripping over boxes that lie untouched for years at a time. But while I am not generally a pack rat, there are some things that hold so many memories and tie me so strongly to the past that I simply cannot part with them. And my yearbooks are one of the things where those memories are so easily brought to life.


Many of those friends who wrote the words above are no longer in my life. They may be someone I would enjoy running into on the street some random day but it turned out that we weren't actually meant to be friends forever. (Shocking, I know.) Our lives have moved on and taken divergent paths that are likely never to cross again.


However, I still consider myself blessed in the friendship department. No, my inbox is not overflowing with invitations to go out on the weekend and my phone isn't ringing off the hook with a girlfriend just wanting to chat. In fact, my husband and I often joke that we don't have any friends because of how frequently an empty weekend on the calendar stares back at us. But I feel lucky to have a handful of friends who I could call at a moment's notice and know they would drop everything if I needed them. And most of those are friends I have had since I was a child.


There is something about a friendship where your roots are co-mingled with one another's. Where your foundation shares the same soil. Where you remember one another in that awkward phase of life. Where you grew up knowing each other's family and siblings. Where you remember their first crush, their first broken heart, the first car accident one of you had after receiving a newly minted license...and many more "firsts". We knew one another when we all had flawless skin, taught bellies and no sign of gray hairs.


My group of childhood friends and I have been there for one another through so much of life.
High school (some as far back as preschool),
college,
grad school,
marriage,
divorce,
childbirth,
infertility,
good times,
bad times,

celebrations,
struggles,
sickness,
depression
and general confusion about where we belong in life.


We've been through that period where, after trying so hard to perfect our lives, we realize we are really all building our lives on quicksand and it could all shift or fall apart in an instant through unexpected events. This realization has led us to cling a little harder to the things we know. And part of what we know is one another. It wasn't until the last of us had our last child (which was me at age 37) that we all seemed to return to our roots and come together as a group. It coincided with our 20th high school reunion and the retrospective nature of that event likely spurred us on.


I read a book recently by Anna Quindlen called Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. I could relate to many parts of the book but loved this one quote in particular:

"The thing about old friends is not that they love you but that they know you. They remember that disastrous New Year's Eve when you mixed White Russians and champagne, and how you wore that red maternity dress until everyone was sick of seeing the blaze of it in the office, and the uncomfortable couch in your first apartment, and the smoky stove in your beach rental. They look at you and don't really think you look older, because they've grown old along with you, and, like the faded paint in a beloved room, they're used to the look."

Of course, this says nothing about all the other meaningful friendships we have made over the years -- college friends who have known us over half our lives or neighborhood friends or friends we met through a shared passion. I have some incredibly close friends from various stages in my past who I am blessed to have in my life. In fact, I am spending this weekend in Seattle with two of my dearest friends, both of whom I met on a 20 mile training run almost ten years ago. I can't imagine the past ten years of my life without these two women in it!

meeting up with these two sisters this weekend...

One difference with some of these "newer" friendships, however, is that we have the ability to somewhat reinvent ourselves with each new friend. We can share as little or as much of our history as we want with them and, therefore, help shape their view of us. But there is something special about those friends that have known you all your life -- that know all your faults and flaws and have seen you at your worst -- and yet are still by your side.

Then...

...and now.

Do you keep in touch with your childhood friends? 

At the end of the day, I am eternally grateful for all of my friends...both new and old!! I just happened to come across a box of old things yesterday that made me particularly nostalgic.  ;)

- Kristen