Old friends. The kind you have known for twenty or thirty years. The ones you traveled with or lived with for months on end. The friends who have seen you with tears running down your face and offered you tissues and a hug. The ones you have called to share some amazing moment that only they can understand.
They know your odd little eccentricities, and laugh at them, and you don’t mind. Those are the kind of friends I am writing about.
I’m blessed to have some of these amazing people in my life. One is moving back to town with her young son. We went walking last week. We met in Physics class in high school – we were lab partners. Her life has taken some interesting twists and turns, as all of ours have over the years. We never expected to be walking in a neighborhood not too far from where we grew up.
Another friend of mine – the one who went backpacking through Europe with me in college – she is recovering from surgery in Massachusetts. Some of her family is still back here in Georgia. I spoke with her this morning. We speak sporadically. I always feel she has a wonderful sense of peace about her. I know that comment would make her laugh. We are good at balancing each other out, which is probably why we chose each other to go to Europe and we had an amazing time.
Then there’s my friend with a baby. We met my junior year of high school, her freshman year. We lived together for a year in college. I was matron of honor at her wedding a few years ago, right after my mother passed, and my daughter was her flower girl. We lost touch, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident, over the years. She had a rockier start than some others, but she has accomplished so many things. (Although, if you ask what her favorite bit was, I’m fairly certain she would say her baby daughter.)
I think this next one is my oldest friend in some ways. We met at some point in middle school, were in Latin for four years together in high school, and finally got to be good friends in college. We have kept in touch over the years, between marriages and children. When I texted her earlier today about maybe taking a road trip (which we have never done together) to visit one of my best friends from college who was diagnosed with cancer, her response was to immediately ask if I would need a place to sleep on the road trip – she has an old friend who lives near there who could put us up.
My best friend in Texas, who drove for days just to get to my mother’s memorial service (her unveiling last summer). She requires an entire post to herself.
My dear friend in New Jersey – we have hung out together in Oxford, Madrid, Chicago, New York City – because that’s where she happened to be living at the time. I think it’s really neat that she has a cellar door in her house. Straight from the song:
Playmate, come out and play with me; bring your dollies three, climb up my apple tree, slide down my rainbarrel (rainbow), into the cellar door, where we’ll be best friends, forever more.
I admire all of these amazing women. Their lives have taken different paths than mine, they have made different choices along the way, they have taught me so much.
Right after I had my first child, I knew everything. How babies should be treated, how marriages and families should connect. Then I had another child, who ignored all I thought I knew, and then my children grew older. I have learned that as each child is different, with different needs to be met, as is every family. What works for my family of four, may not work for your family of two, or six, or ten.
But we learn from each other.
We laugh together, cry together, sing together, and sometimes just be together. Because we know, that being together is what is more important, after all.