Friendship is a funny thing. When you’re young and still in school, you might have a wide variety of friends from all the various activities and organizations you’re a part of (school, sports, Cub Scouts, church, etc.). At the time, you might even believe that these same friends will stay with you throughout the rest of your life, sharing your joys and pains, and basically being around whenever you want to see them. And why not? You have so much in common that nothing could ever separate you.
And then you might go off to college and meet a whole new group of friends. And while you still keep in contact with your friends from high school, the new groups of friends tend to monopolize most of your time. They also introduce you to new concepts, ideas and possibly even foods that you never considered before. They open your eyes to life outside your hometown, and for that reason, they might even seem “cooler” than your older friends. Possibly even more educated.
Then you leave college and move into the real world, where you now take on a new group of comrades known as “work buddies.” Work buddies help get you through the day when your job gets you down, or they take you out for drinks on your birthday, or exchange “Secret Santa” presents with you during the holidays. They’re now more of a constant in your life than your real friends, because you tend to see them every day from nine to five. (Or whatever hours you happen to work.) Whereas, your real friends are only available every other weekend, or you can only see them a few times a year, or you only keep in contact with them via e-mail.
And gradually, some of the groups and collections of friends that you’ve carefully accumulated over your lifetime begin to drop off. At first, you don’t even notice because you’re so busy, and so wrapped up in your current situation. But in the back of your mind, you know your friends will always be there when you need them. Or when you just want to talk. Because you have that kind of bond, after all. A bond that can never be erased or eroded through the passage of time.
Then one day, you might look around and wonder how you ever lost touch with someone who was once as close to you as your brother or sister. A person with whom you shared a thousand secrets, or a million laughs, or an infinite amount of tears. Someone who knew you as well as you knew them. So how could such a relationship ever let time or distance or even anger sever the tie that was meant to be forever? Or was it?
Are we meant to have friends for our entire life? Or do people naturally come in and out of our lives because we need to learn and grow from the experience of knowing them? They aren’t meant to be permanent fixtures, just little accents along the way. And while we enjoy them for a time, we don’t necessarily need them for our entire journey. So instead we allow them to have little “Special Guest Appearances” throughout our life. If nothing else, it certainly adds variety to our sometimes routine storyline. And the introduction of a new character in our lives every now and then is just what we need to move forward, or take a new direction, or view things from a different perspective.
There are so many people I’ve met throughout my life that I wish were still in it right now. I wish I could just pick up a phone and say hello and have a conversation, or a laugh, or catch up on what we’ve been doing. But the passage of time does strange things to friendships. People can grow in different directions, or find new interests, or even adopt different values and ideals. Even their own life experience, apart from yours, can cause them to put up barriers or walls that can no longer be penetrated by an old friend. And though the reasons for such a blockage might have nothing to do with you, it still causes“weirdness” when talking to each other.
But the worst thing to happen with a friendship is when it suddenly ends and you never know why. You’ve obviously done something to hurt or offend the other person, and yet no matter how many times you replay your conversations in your head, you can’t think of one reason why someone would be mad at you. Let alone, drop you from their lives. And unfortunately, most times the reason remains a mystery. Unless you happen to know someone who knows someone who heard something at a party about why they don’t like you any more. And usually it’s because of some minor, minor infraction on your part that somehow got blown out of proportion. Either that or you were really a jerk…though you may not have realized it at the time. (Or maybe you did. In which case, you really ARE a jerk.)
And so we move on through our lives, picking up and discarding friends with a randomness that baffles me. I still retain communication with one of my best friends from high school. He is married with children, and lives maybe ten miles from where we grew up. And to me, he is one of the most genuine, reliable and trustworthy people I know. The kind of friend you have for life. And yes, there is such a thing.
But that’s just me. What do you think about your experience with friendships?