Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other gold.
Two very dear friends stopped through town for a visit and we were graced with laughter, food, sunshine, stories of the past five years, and Ember. It was fantastic to hear about their life in BC and now moving back to the UK. To talk about what it’s like to birth a child and to watch said child make goofy faces when you say, “Cheese” and to see old friends embrace after years of distance. After everyone else left we caught up on the new phase of life that we’ve all been walking through and it’s comforting to see a similar thread that weaves through our lives as we go from single-hood, to marriage, to kids.
For years now Matt and I keep asking what this noun, Community really is. Is it a sense of family? Is it friends who eat and celebrate together? Is it church? What is church? We have a few different groups of friends who meet, eat, and celebrate together but what is the ‘more’ that everyone is wanting? Are we just messed up latch key kids that never really had family so now we long for something we’ve never really known? Is it like trying to describe a sunset to someone who is blind?
Matt made an interesting point while we were talking together, “When you have kids your entire sense of priorities change and you become more turned inward as a family so most of your relationships change but it happens out of necessity”. One day you’re in a pub with your best mates all singing Bohemian Rapsody and banging your head when the guitar riff takes it up a notch, the next you’re sitting on the couch with your two toddlers watching Horton Hears A Who on a Friday night followed by a 15 mile bike ride with your kids the next day. Some of it is preference; some is because others have disappeared.
How do we keep these friendships turing from silver into gold as the years go by? My new friend Patrick says, “Tracie, you aren’t trying to follow or be a part of something (community), you’re creating something and that process takes 20 or more years to establish”. Well, I’ve only lived 35 years and have only had children for nearly five of those years so we have some history to establish.
With facebook comes the onset of virtual friendships and community but it’s also been amazing for me to track the lives of old friends who I have labored with, laughed, wept, studied and traveled with. About some, I wonder, how are they doing? Others I smile at photos of their new family. Still others I wonder why I accepted the friend request when we never send messages or chat anyway. But overall I can’t believe I’m so lucky as to find old friends who I haven’t seen in decades living life, falling in love, having kids, traveling, changing the world and it’s almost as if no time has gone by.
Recently I reconnected with an old childhood friend from when I use to play Barbies and go roller skating in the street back in Tacoma, WA. My eyes popped and jaw dropped when I saw she was on facebook. I have memories of her and I making up a musical to Grease II and fighting over who got to be Michelle Pfeiffer’s character. And I remember the plays and the skits we acted out. Kids Incorporated was our dream job. We ran away from home together only to come back in time for dinner. And even through my punk rock days of high school, my preppy friend would always touch my arm or back when we walked through the crowded halls as her way of saying, ‘We’re still friends”. Totally different worlds but same old friendship.
With Mark and Katie I’ve seen how easy it is to pick up right where we left off and know that distance is not the determining factor for the depth of relationships but it’s time that determines the depth. Well, and they have to be awesome people. Jerky friends don’t turn into gold, do they? They’re more of a gray I guess. But I appreciate the friendships we have even the world over as we’ve traveled and watched friendships grow deeper though we aren’t living in the same town, or even the same country.A few years back we went to South Africa for 4 months to do a school staffed by two dear friends. It had been years since we’d seen them and it was like picking up right where we left off but now (only because of proximity) we were even closer. Crazy!
I’m still asking the question regarding community and the real nature of what it is we are all looking for. I’ve known that life does change when you have kids and the community that surrounds changes too. Sometimes the community disappears and then morphs into a new batch. Then as life goes on I’m sure the phase morphs again and something else is created. For now we are grateful for what has being given to us over the years. The grace of relationships that run deep through shared life experiences. The empathy of losing old friends when an Ember or an Oliver comes into the picture. The time spent fixing bird houses with a four year old instead of hanging out at the lake with the girls or knitting sweaters at the cafe. The moments of finding a long lost friend in cyberspace. Moments of community and creating gold.
Christy, if you’re reading this, you are gold!