My husband and I recently went to a barbeque at a friend’s house about an hour away. In recent years this barbeque has become an annual ritual among our college friends; it’s been thirty-two years since we graduated and I’ve now known these people for two-thirds of my life. Our middle son joined us since he knows most of our old friends and their offspring and enjoys their company. We began explaining to all the kids how we met and who lived with whom over the years we were in school. It was a beautiful, relaxing day, filled with wine and too much food. Afterwards, we all agreed that despite the fact that we have all made wonderful friends in the various states and communities in which we live, there’s something about this group that is special. Having been roommates, dorm mates and apartment mates and knowing each other for so long, we are incredibly comfortable in each other’s company; it’s sort of like putting on your favorite pair of sweatpants and broken in slippers. You know what I mean.
Despite not living near one another during the years right after college, we were still able to get together on a fairly regular basis back then. And even when we first started having our babies, we managed to tote them along when we wanted to see each other. But then… life happened. Our children started getting invited to birthday parties and playing soccer and participating in a million other activities, or so it seemed.
For the next few decades it was hard to find time for one another. Between raising our children and building careers, there wasn’t a spare moment. We generally made it to big events like baby namings and brises, bar and bat mitzvahs, funerals, etc., but we didn’t have time to just hang out. And on the rare occasions we did all get together, we were too busy chasing our children around when they were with us or worrying about getting home for the babysitter when they weren’t. But now we have reached the other side. Our get-togethers have become more frequent, last longer and, honestly, are more enjoyable. When our children join us we don’t worry that a toddler will fall in the pool, fall down a flight of stairs or burn themselves on the barbeque. There’s no fighting among our offspring, despite age and gender differences. They have come to view each other as a sort of extended family. And when we get together without our children, we no longer have to rush home. The distance between our homes seems less of an obstacle these days.
It doesn’t have to be college friends who are your crew. People meet their tribe at different points in their lives; their neighborhood growing up, high school, camp, etc. This is the group who:
- Knew you when. Your old friends know your quirks and accept you for who you are. You can’t get away with anything with them because they know the real you and, best of all, love you anyway.
- Will mentor your children. A huge benefit to our group of friends which I had never anticipated is the guidance we give to each other’s kids. We offer advice and even assist with their careers. When my oldest son was having some concerns about work recently, one of my friends got on the phone and gave him invaluable advice, which he actually heeded. It really does take a village and our kids seem to enjoy this village almost as much as we do.
- Will be there for you. They show up or call like magic, when you need it most.
- Makes you feel young again because you still remember the part of you who existed when you all met.
So for those of you with young families and burgeoning careers who may be missing your old friends or feel as if they are slipping away, don’t worry. Even though you may not be seeing as much of each other as you would like right now, if you keep the embers of your relationships alive, you will be able to enjoy each other’s company again. That’s not to say you can take those friendships for granted. Do your best to keep in touch, but when you can’t, know that your true friends are out there, ready to reconnect when life allows.
There’s a “ditty” my boys sang in pre-school before heading off to kindergarten: “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” As I get older, I realize the truth to that statement and I’m grateful for all the friends in my life, the people who sustain me and add joy to my life.