Every year we always exchange Christmas cards complete with a few words of "hope you're keeping well, must catch up with each other soon" and then we seldom do. Does this sound familiar?
Yesterday I looked up one of my friends, who fitted that situation perfectly. It was definitely worth the drive and time to catch up with a long standing friend. I reckon we have known each other for about 36 years. Yes, THIRTY SIX YEARS! That's over half my life.
It was nice talking about people we knew as college friends, wondering what had happened to them. It is amazing to think how we have all gone off in different directions from those days when we were all full of ambition and optimism. Most if us, myself included, were very idealistic in wanting to make our mark on the world, or even change the world in some small way. Where are we now? How many of us are on the same career pathway which we started in the early 1980s? The answer to that is just a few, a very small minority. I can't count myself amongst those, in fact I was one of the first to realise that career pathway wasn't for me and subsequently went off in a different direction.
I met my friend's mother, she's now 97 or 98 and still has her marbles in tact. We shared a pot of tea, a pizza and a can of coke, just like the old days. My friend still smokes a bit but was respectful in keeping a distance between us when he needed to have a puff. He lives in the same house, he has the same bedroom and although the house has been renovated, it still has a good number of features which I remember from years back. I remember staying there for a couple of nights when there was too much snow to hitchhike home, the low ceilings and all the china nick-nacks all around. There are some fir trees in the front garden; I remember when they were quite short as opposed to the lofty trees which they have grown into. I remember his Mum's home cooking and being told I was too thin and needed plenty of Polish sausage meat to build me up. I remember going there so often!
As I drove home, I reflected on our lives. While we had much in common back in the 1980s, how much do we have in common nowadays? Our lives have gone in different directions, our values, aspirations, our family life and almost everything else is very different. We show the effects of ageing a few decades as well; the leanness of youth has almost gone, hair is thinning or going grey and our short term memory is shocking.
And yet there is still a bond of friendship that's still there. Why?
There is something special about a long standing friendship. My friend could remember some things which I had completely forgotten, places we'd been to, conversations we'd had and so on. We have shared something of our lives with each other and known each other well in our early adult lives.
As the years have flowed by, I asked myself if we would be friends if we met nowadays? Being brutally honest about this, the answer is probably negative. No, we wouldn't strike up a friendship these days but that doesn't detract in any way from the friendship we already have. Because we've been friends for such a long time and done all kinds of crazy things with each other, our friendship has stood the test of time. And long may it continue!
Related: The importance of saying "thank you"