Oh, hi. Hello there. Did you do something different with your hair? I like it. There was a bit of radio silence on the blog while I was away at a beach reunion with my college friends.
Instead of blogging, I was doing really boring stuff like swimming and laughing and eating vodka-filled watermelons. You know, basically pretending I was a teenager again. We all need those moments, the ones where we forget our responsibilities and say, “To hell with age spots, I’m going to wait one whole hour before I apply sunscreen so that I don’t look like a 31-year-old marshmallow.”
So that’s what I was doing: remembering what it’s like to feel tan and reckless and 21 instead of 31 and pale and responsible.
I wish I could snap my fingers any old day and feel that way, but it takes a special group of people to create that perfect storm of carefree fun: the people who knew me in my early twenties.
Sometimes, when these old friends feel very far away (which, geographically, they are), I can become a little too responsible and independent and serious. I forget about the ridiculous jokes and ridiculous hair, the play fighting and deep discussions and complete, unequivocal acceptance that comes from being a part of an old, tight-knit group of friends.
A few years ago, when I was brand new to Vancouver, I had a discussion with an older woman who had also relocated to Canada from the U.S. I lamented the fact that it was tough making friends in Vancouver, that people were more closed off than I was used to. She agreed with me, but then she said this:
“No matter where you live, it will be difficult to recreate the kind of friendships you’re talking about. There are certain windows in life where you click with people because you’re all going through a similar experience. Hold onto those friends. Talk to them and visit them as much as possible. Those people can’t be replaced.”
It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear because they were so far away and I was lonely. After all, the song goes, “Love the one you’re with” not “Love the one who’s far away.”
And, while I’ve made smart, amazing, fantastic new friends in the intervening years (which, day by day and year by year, grow into “old” friends), that woman was right. Something happened during those four years of university and in the following “just starting out” years in Chicago. I met the people who would become my extended family.
You can’t fake history. Friendships, even off-the-bat ones, need time to grow. They need late nights and inside jokes, laughter and fissures, forgiveness, glue.
(They may also require: awkward trips to the nude Korean spa, warbly but enthusiastic Bonnie Tyler karaoke, and one too many shared bottles of cheap merlot. Photographic evidence of poor fashion choices also comes in handy.)
No matter how many wrinkles or pounds you accumulate, old friends will forever see in you the confident, somewhat rambunctious twenty year old who now rears her head a little less frequently, favoring a good book over a night out.
They know you as you are and as you were. And they happily split the difference.
That’s what I was I reminded of last week.
Even as we relived old stories and reverted to our carefree younger selves, we created new memories. Rather than feeling beholden to those magical, malleable years of youth when we helped shape one another, we celebrated growth and age and new babies and upcoming marriages.
We are twenty and we are thirty. And one day we will be forty.
As I navigate these grown-up years, I think that song wasn’t completely wrong, just in need of a little amendment.
Love the ones you’re with. But don’t lose sight of the ones who have loved you all along.
Do have any old, cherished friends? How do you keep those relationships strong?