When our family moved to Lincoln seven years ago, I was happy to make the move, happy for a new adventure and new beginnings. I was not, however, willing to exert the necessary energy to make new friendships. I was 36 years old, and in my mind, had already made a lifetime of friends. That was plenty, right? I mean, after all, I BARELY had time to keep up with all of my closest friends, much less the ones I referred to only as acquaintances. So I certainly didn’t need to add to that list, all while trying to adjust to a new town, new surroundings, and a third child on the way.
My plate was full. So was my heart.
There was absolutely no room for more friendship nurturing. Besides, I knew full well that I would now be extra busy trying to maintain a long distance friendship with my “girls” back home.
So you’re asking, “How’d that work out for ya??” To that, I’d say, “not very well.” Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if I was against meeting new people. That’s not my character at all. But I was being stubborn about not wanting to have to work so hard at growing those relationships, and wasn’t convinced that I’d be able to add even more forever friendships. Like many of my best laid out plans, there was a greater force at work. My heart soon opened to the possibilities, and they’ve been endless ever since.
I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say, girls are a funny lot. We thrive on friendships. (Even though we’re not always good at them in our younger years.) We’re also very protective of our relationships. Whereas my husband has very good lifelong friendships, he doesn’t necessarily work that hard at keeping up with his friends. If they talk from time to time, great. If not, the friendship won’t falter. We women, have, and always will, put more pressure on ourselves. We love harder and feel deeper. We mentally keep track of when the last time was we talked to our best friend, or whether we’ve touched base with that old grade school friend within the last six months. If we haven’t, we feel the pit in our stomach. The one that tells us that “said” friend might be upset with us for taking so long to touch base. But wait – they haven’t called or written you either? That’s ok, right? We’re still good? Yes. Because we all get busy. Lives change. Children are added. Moves are made. Different paths are taken.
I know this, because that was me. Looking back, maybe I should have been less worried about not wanting to invest in new friendships, and more concerned with whether my “old friends” back home were planning to keep me “close.”
Thankfully they did.
Seven years later, I have a more distant bond with those friends, but only because of the miles between us. We stay in touch. We talk (when our kids will allow). We meet up when possible. I resisted Facebook when we moved, but what a mistake that would have been, had I not signed up. I get to see their children grow through technology. When we can’t share our life moments in person or with a phone call, we see them online. I’ll take that. (Because I know the day will come, when we will hug in person, and relive the moment again.)
As for those “new friends” I didn’t know I wanted – words cannot describe the amazing relationships I’ve formed with SO MANY fabulous women (OK, and men too) since moving here. It’s as if I’ve known them all my life. It’s hard to imagine that I ever thought I might not have room in my heart for them. Let’s be honest. We women will ALWAYS have more room. I look forward to the day when I introduce my “old” Lincoln friends to my new friends I meet at Bridge Club or at the retirement village where I may one day live.
These are the lessons I want to teach my girls as they grow and figure out friendships. First, friendships aren’t always easy in your early years. But they do get easier, as you grow to know what you value most in a friend. And, second, you will have great friends at every stage of your life. Some will move forward with you. Others will stay a few steps behind, yet remain a part of your story. Because true friendship doesn’t fade.
So as we grow older, let us never forget that old children’s song we were taught. “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”