I'm rethinking friendship...
I remember telling one of my youth group kids that life is like a river, and that we are like twigs floating along that river, and that at various points other twigs would float alongside us, and then the current would take us different ways. The point being, friends come and friends go.
And, I really have believed that. I think it began when I realized with surprise that I was no longer friends with the high school students I'd graduated with- the soulmates I had bawled and cried about on graduation day, swore I'd never lose touch with, knew in my heart that we would be friends for LIIIIIIIIFFFEEEAGGGGAGAAAAWWWW..... But by sophomore year in college, I'd lost touch with most of them. In my defense we did not have facebook back then, or AIM, or even email! To keep in touch then meant hand-written letters, or saving a coffee-mug full of quarters for a phone call in the phone booth in the dorm hallway. Besides, I had a whole new crop of besties, and didn't feel like I had much to tell my old friends after a while. It was too much work to update each other on our lives after so long between contacts. (What? You dyed your hair blond? When did THAT happen? Six MONTHS AGO?)
But by the time I graduated from college, I was resigned to the idea that soon, I'd lose touch with most of my college friends, too- even this was before email, and now everyone would be moving on and moving away.
I kept in touch with a few important friends, and lost touch with a few important friends. But after years, even my most important friends drifted away and were replaced with new Social Work friends, who were then replaced by Youth Ministry friends.
Then, just about everyone was pushed aside (but not replaced) by my husband. I knew, though, too, that this happens when one gets married- and in truth, most of my friends were getting married or having children too, and entering their own silos. A group of my friends, "the girlies", have done pretty well keeping in touch- we all worked in one way or another at a group home nearby, and all of us have moved on now to a variety of different lives.
I'm not good at keeping in touch with my friends when they have children, I'm sorry to say. I am no Auntie. It's terrible but it is kind of like having a friend that gets deep into some hobby, I don't know, like Ju-Jitsu... and all they want to talk about is Ju-Jitsu. I don't do Ju-Jitsu- I'm happy that you love it, but describing the moves in detail doesn't make me love it. I love my friends' kids, but I don't do kids. I know that makes me a jerk.
But I'm there when trouble hits, I know that- if you're in crisis (even if it's a Ju-Jitsu crisis!) I'm there. I'll bring you comfort food, I'll sit with you in silence, I'll run errands for you. (Oh, but I don't babysit.)
But along comes Facebook. Now I'm being contacted by old Youth Ministry friends, Social Work friends, College friends, High School friends, and even Elementary School friends!! It has been amazing how easy it has been, albeit over the interweb, to feel kinship with people that I literally have not seen (and some I'd forgotten about completely) since 1978. Our memories do connect us.
Last weekend was my college reunion- and I ended up spending the day with three of my dearest college friends. I was so nervous to see them, and they were nervous too, and I wondered how we'd catch up on 18 years of history- but by the end of the afternoon, it was amazing how easy it was to be together again... and I felt sad that I'd let all that time go by. My friend Deidre hugged me hard and said "it doesn't have to go back to not being in touch. Not again." And I don't want it to. I found myself dreaming, on my drive to work today, about the 4 of us getting away for a weekend, bringing our wedding pictures and old stories, and getting to know each other again. Now, I guess, I see why people do that.