Monday, November 4, 2019

5 Things About Old Friends

Old friends make us smile.
(and occasionally photobomb us)
Yesterday, I had the wonderful fortune to spend time in New York with not just my husband and my daughter, but also with a group of old friends and acquaintances from my high school days. Though our graduating classes varied within a few years of several decades ago, we were all united by our high school drama club and its director. We gathered at Lincoln Center to see a play directed by one of our own, then walked many city blocks from the show to a pub where we hung out and caught up and reconnected. Most came from New Jersey, where some still lived in the same town as my high school, a few are now New Yorkers and my husband and I took the train from Pennsylvania, meeting our daughter, who took the train from Connecticut. My high school drama director and his wife and one of my English teachers rounded out the group, which ranged in age from late teens to retirees, and which had no difficulty whatsoever reconnecting.

Today, I remained submerged in the warm glow of time spent with friends. While that is always something to treasure, the time spent with old friends is tinged with a special sort of glow -- the sort of aura reserved for special occasions and events that are rare. Old friends...

  1. Remind us of who we were (for better or for worse). My high school self was a tad dorky, but she was a happy, optimistic person who loved performing with her friends. Not yet jaded by heartbreak and loss, she seemed lighter, and she readily emerges when I'm with the people who knew her.
  2. Connect us to who we are. Some days, I feel far removed from that girl (and some days, that's not such a bad thing), but it doesn't take much to connect the dots that formed the path from there to here. No matter how much we grow and change, there are always remnants of all of our previous selves -- again, for better or for worse -- and time spent with those who knew and cared about the person we once were can help us to appreciate that person in a different way and to understand the through-line from past to present.
  3. Assure us that change is possible. Most of us are not the same people we were in high school. Whether we sought out new paths or had new paths thrust upon us, visiting with those who knew us when can inspire us to move forward or, perhaps, to take a few steps back and reclaim any good that was lost or forgotten along the way.
  4. Make us smile. I hate selfies and I'm self-conscious about smiling in photos, but when my friend Nick suggested a selfie with the fountain at Lincoln Center in the background, I was in in a heartbeat. I'm not going to analyze the why, though factors like height differentials and seizing the day have crossed my mind. Instead, I'm going to cherish the moment the photo captured -- an evening spent picking up almost precisely where we had left off.
  5. Anchor us and remind us that time is precious. That wonderful phenomenon that allows us to pick up where we left off leaves us feeling that no time has passed when in fact, much time often has. Old friends are a reminder of so many things, the fragility of time and friendship perhaps foremost among them. The older we get, the more we realize that these are not the kinds of time to take for granted.
Victoria Borodinova via Pixabay
As I typed this, several movie and music references popped into my mind, reminding me that these discoveries are not new and are, in fact, often the subject of works of art. How fitting that it was a work of dramatic art that brought us all together to reconnect and to rediscover what we probably knew already -- that some of the best friendships have a platonic happily ever after that sustains us in ways we take for granted.

As for me, I've been happy to spend the day wrapped in the warm embrace of an evening spent with friends.

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