Like many people, I enjoy making new friends. But I love keeping (and seeing) those that I’ve known for a long, long time.*
Nurturing friendships takes time and effort on both sides. Sometimes, despite our intentions, it’s just not possible à continuer. For different reasons, we move on….and not always because we want to.
We relocate to a different community, city or state. We develop new interests that some of our (old) friends don’t share – so we necessarily spend less time with them. We start new jobs, have more (or different) commitments. And maybe sometimes we move on because we realize that we weren’t that close to begin with.
In my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, three young girls become friends. When their experience as roommates in France is over, they’re sad about it – they don’t want to move on. (A sequel is planned…)
In earlier times, it was difficult to stay connected with friends when I moved somewhere new and started a new chapter in life. Phone calls were expensive, and letters took more time and effort than the short messages we send now. Traveling to visit each other wasn’t easy, even for weddings; on the other hand, they were
cheaper easier to attend then than most “destination” mariages of today. But everyone (or at least, I) seemed to have a lot less money back then. So we did what we could.
Happily, I never lost touch with certain old friends. I did with some others, but in recent years, it’s been wonderful to reconnect. Sometimes we’ve discovered that we have more in common now than we did before: we share new (or old) interests, or we just have more time to spend with each other.
Which leads me to the reasons why j’aime les amis de longue date:
1. They “knew me when” – back before either of us had much experience with life and love, and were filled with hopes about the future. We went through some thing(s) together, or at the same time. Somehow that “me” and that “them” haven’t changed all that much, despite our separate joys, trials and sorrows.
2. They’re constant. They’re still around, whether we were always in touch or not. The reasons why we became friends in the first place (usually NOT because our kids are the same age, or that we worked in the same office) are still the reasons why we like to get together.
3. They’re flexible, forgiving, encouraging, accepting and empathetic – all things I try to be, too. No matter what we do separately and no matter what our different interests are (or become), we understand each other. We learn from each other, laugh together and are there for each other when times are tough.
4. They don’t have an “agenda” – we’re friends because we like spending time together. We may have some shared interests (we often do) but we’re friends for more reasons than that. We’re in each other’s network of friends, but we aren’t networking.
5. They care. We’re supportive of each other, and we don’t have to know the details. We want the best for each other, and we’re troubled when the other is sad, unhappy or unwell.
One of my (old) friends often says, “Friends are the family that we choose.” Some of my dearest friends aren’t the oldest ones; I met them sometime more recently along life’s journey. But for inexplicable reasons, we may feel as if we’ve known each other for a long time. We hit it off – we just connect.
I think they’re going to become some of mes amis de longue date.
* Especially my best friend, mon mari – the family that I chose, and who chose me.