Friends don’t last forever. Friends come and go. The people who matter to you in Elementary…in Middle School…in High School…in College…eventually won’t matter to you. Friendships change, die, and fade away. This is what (most) everyone is told growing up and it’s what most people believe.
Now that’s not to say I’ve never lost a friend or my past friendships haven’t changed over time. There are certain people that meant the world to me at one point or another that I no longer even talk to. Some friendships just faded away over time and some ended in a giant emotional explosion. My circle of friends today is a fraction of what it was 10 years ago. I’ve seen enough and experienced enough to realize that some people are only meant to play a temporary role in your life, but I can proudly say the majority of my friends have been with me from the very beginning. I’m talking 20 plus years for some of them and I think it’s the best thing in the world.
I like to say I don’t make friends, I add to the family.
And when I say 20 plus years for some, I’m not just talking about 1 or 2.
My last year, before moving to Hawaii, I spent Thanksgiving with one of my oldest friend’s family. He was my neighbor growing up, 2 years older than me, and I can’t pinpoint when we became friends so I just say he’s been my best friend for life.
There is another boy, 2 years younger than me, that I also grew up with. He lived next door to me and then two doors down from me while growing up. We don’t talk very often anymore, but whenever things really get hard I know he’ll be there.
My matron of honor and my bridesmaid in my wedding have been by my side since kindergarten. We have had our share of ups and downs over the years. We have grown apart, grown together, and grown up a lot since we were 5. All three of us are at very different stages in our lives dealing with very different things, but when we are together it is as if nothing has changed and no matter how many years pass we can pick up just like we were hanging out yesterday.
Now these are just my oldest friends. The rest of my inner circle consists of:
- A girl who became one of my BFF’s because she had a pool and I had a kitten in the 3rd grade
- A boy who although I despised him in the 4th grade is now the other pea in my pod
- A mole girl (inside joke) from 8th grade
- And I still consider my academic barely passing competitor (you read that right, we competed to have the highest lowest Sophomore English grade) from high school one of my closest friends
I made a few pretty good friends while in college and after college, but I I’m only 5 years post graduation so the fact they are still in my life isn’t so strange (although I plan on keeping them around…maybe I’ll do a follow up on this in 15 years).
I know it’s strange that I’m still super close with so many old friends, but I was raised this way. I come from a long line of old friends.
At my last birthday party, a new S.O. of one of my friends made a comment about how no one still talks to people they knew in high school. This person said this to me, one of my kindergarten girlfriends and mole girl. We stared at him for too long, said “we do!” and then giggled like six year olds.
My grandpa, up until the day he died was best friends with a kid he went to school with. That best friend is still alive, and, even today, he talks about how much he loved my grandpa.
My mom and her best friend met in elementary school. (Me and one of my kindergarten girlfriends joke that we’ll be them in the future.) They have been through hell and back with each other, but to this day I don’t think there is another person in this world that loves my mom the way her best friend does. Even in my mom’s condition, she is still right there with her. In fact, she took my mom out for lunch just this past weekend. My mom can’t even talk and this woman is still there for her.
My dad kept in touch with a lot of his friends that he went to school with. I met so many of them while he was sick and after he died a portion of them dubbed themselves as my “unofficial uncles.” (My brother called them the men behind the fence, but more on that in a bit.) He’s been gone almost 10 years now and a lot of them still keep in touch and check up on me from time to time. I lived with one of them for a short period of time before moving to Hawaii and another has taken me out to lunch twice now since I’ve moved back.
My dad and his friends were (are…not sure the tense when one is dead) such an impressive example of friendship, that during my dad’s funeral, my brother gave a beautiful speech where he talked about them. I wish I had better memory of the speech, so I could recall what his exact words were, but I was too emotional and it’s been too long. I may not remember his exact words, but he talked about growing up and seeing my dad and the men behind the fence. My dad worked on cars a lot and from the stories I’ve heard, after work and on the weekends he and his buddies would hang out in the garage or the backyard (behind the fence), drinking beers, joking around, and working. In my brother’s speech, he talked about how that shaped his view of friendships and how he would later maintain his. (Did I mention my siblings are still friends with a lot of their childhood friends?)
I was raised around old friends and it was amazing. Unintentionally I think I was taught to view and value friendships differently than most.
Just like any relationship, friendship takes work and time and patience. And it is a special thing to see friends that have been there for each other for 10, 20, 30, 40 plus years. It’s something special that you have to see to really understand and it’s something you really have to cherish if you are one of the lucky people that get to experience it.
If you have made it this far in my rambling I thank you and I hope you got some sort of enjoyment out of this. This was one of those, “I have thoughts that I just want to let out,” posts. I apologize. If you are one of my personal friends and you have made it this far I want you to know that I love you and I appreciate you and I don’t know what I would do without you. I know it hasn’t been an easy ride, but I’m so happy you have chosen to take this ride with me.