OLD FRIENDS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

There’s something very special about old friends.

As we get older, there are also different degrees of ‘old’. I have friends from when my children were young, 30 years ago and friends from when I was young, more than 60 years ago. My husband has known Marilyn Armstrong since he was a freshman in college. In 1975, Tom and his ex wife actually lived for a while with Marilyn and her then husband. That creates lasting bonds that are like no others.

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My current group of local close friends have only known me as a retired empty nester. So it’s comforting to talk to people who knew me when I was a newly married career woman, or as an energetic full-time Mom with young kids.

Tom and Garry

Tom and Garry

Then there’s Wendy. She represents a whole other, unique category of old friends. We were best friends from 5th grade into 7th grade. We had that special bond that only 9-12 year old girls can have. We did everything together. We slept over at each other’s homes almost every weekend when we were in New York City for school.

wendy-and-ellin-on-boat

We spent time at my weekend/summer home in Easton, Connecticut, where I now live. We hung out at her ‘country’ house, first in a neighboring town in Connecticut and then on a tiny island on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. (Very cool! She still owns the island and goes there regularly).

wendy-and-ellin-bathing-suits

We intimately knew each other’s parents and in my case, grandparents too. We reveled in each other’s pets – we both had birds. We named our birds after characters in Peter Pan (Wendy/Peter Pan). Her parakeet was Petey and my canary was Tinkerbell.

wendy-and-ellin-posing

We were friendly through high school. In junior high, we moved onto other best friends and different circles of friends. We lost touch after high school. Totally. We didn’t have any contact at all until I called her after our 40th high school reunion. We talked on the phone a few times and then lost touch again for another ten years.

This past year, as our 50th class reunion approaches, we reconnected on Facebook. This time our connection has blossomed into a real friendship. We have talked on the phone for a half hour to an hour every week for the past few months. We both look forward to our conversations. We have moved past catching up and reminiscing. We have filled each other in on the basics of our careers, marriages and children.

We each have a child with serious health issues. We’ve talked about books, friends, hobbies and politics. We both suffer from Donald Trump’s PTSD.

We’ve come to realize that we’re similar in many ways and simpatico on other levels, too. We would not continue our relationship if that were not the case. We might have become close if we had just met for the first time. But there is something so special about talking with someone who knew my first dog, remembers my parents as ‘young people.’ Who remembers writing ‘novels’ together as pre-teens using manual typewriters with carbon paper — and no self-correcting features.

wendy

I believe we know each other – the essence of who we are – in a way that almost no one else can. It would have been nice if we had stayed in touch through all the intervening years. Apparently it wasn’t necessary. There’s just something about the friendship we had in those formative, innocent years in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. That ‘something’ has survived for 50 years and is creating a modern-day friendship which is more fun, deeper and more meaningful than either of us could have imagined.

ellin-blue-shirt

I’m surprised but thrilled that Wendy has become such a wonderful addition to my life. I talk to her more and on a different level than I talk to the old friends I have stayed in contact with. I cherish the bond we’ve created and I look forward to watching it deepen over time.

We are meeting in person next week for the first time since 1967. Although we live two hours apart, we hope we can continue meeting in person as well as texting, emailing and talking on the phone. I think we give new meaning to the phrase ‘old friends.’

16 thoughts on “OLD FRIENDS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

    • I wonder how many people stay friendly with childhood friends. I know many friendships from high school and college last into later life, but I don’t know about the early years. My son has a few friends from 5th and 6th grade that are still friends in their mid 30’s.That is wonderful to see.

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  1. As we get older I think there is a hankering to see how our old friends are doing. It is really nice that you made that reconnection, Ellin. You shared so much in the past and it looks like you have a future friend to share life’s events with.
    Leslie

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    • The internet and Facebook have made it so much easier to reconnect later in life with childhood friends. But I’ve searched for many others and couldn’t find them. I really want to talk to my first real boyfriend but my limited internet skills failed me. I have a 50th high school reunioun coming up and while I don’t go to most, I really want to go to this one!

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  2. I was thinking about REALLY old friends. They are the only ones left these days, not counting online friends.

    So there’s my cousin who I’ve know since we were teeny tiny kids and though we have drifted, we still have that family “clamp” on our world. After that, not counting my son, there’s Garry. Tom. Cherry. My friend Dorothy who I will probably never physically see, but we were real friends at college. Ron (Cherry’s husband) and you. Garry has some other people all from work who he sees now and again, but they aren’t close friends, though they do share “those good old days.”

    And that really IS it. There were others, but most of them died. The older ones. I have a few online from back in elementary school, but I really don’t have a lot to say to them … and it gets complicated because it isn’t just us, there are husbands and Garry, in case you didn’t notice, isn’t a really super sociable kind of guy. He loves the people he loves, but he doesn’t have a lot of interest in the rest of the world.

    He really LOVES the dogs.

    That being said, I really LOVE my friends. Not just like. Really LOVE them. They matter a LOT and more each year.

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    • Old friends are even more special during these troubled times. I mean friends who you can really trust and share your feelings.

      Marilyn and I are friends — as well as Wife and Husband. The friendship part makes our marriage work. We’ve known each other since 1964. I think that makes Marilyn aka “Mary-Lynne”” my oldest friend. We know each other intimately. The good, the bad and the ugly. There’s no room for BS.

      I’ve known Tommy aka “Pancho” also from the 60’s and the same college crowd that included Marilyn. We were the college radio station group. Tommy and I went on to have careers in broadcasting. So, we have more than 50 years of professional and personal stuff to share. Tommy is one of those rare people who makes me laugh. I don’t laugh or smile enough. One of my many flaws. Marilyn also makes me laugh. She knows how to poke holes through my sometimes phoney baloney moods. True friendship gives her that edge and ability.

      Ellin is very special. She’s a bit new to our old friends circle. But I feel like I’ve known Ellin a long time. She’s like me in some ways. She listens a lot, absorbs a lot while others talk a lot. I feel like I can trust Ellin with things I don’t share with others.

      There aren’t many others anymore. As Marilyn said, I have pals from my working days. Our get togethers are nice but the sparkle is gone because we’ve gone down different roads in retirement. Work was our common bond. You can only rehash the old days so much before it gets BORING.

      Marilyn’s old friends, Cherrie and Ron are also my friends now. They are “feel good” people. They have loads of problems but put them aside to make us feel good when we get together. I always regret when we have to end our visits. I want more time with them.

      I have another old friend, another Tom who is a holdover from our working days. Our friendship has actually blossomed in retirement. We share a lot of personal stuff. Alas, Tom is coping with a serious disease. I stay in touch via email, choosing my words carefully while trying to offer support.

      I have Facebook friends. There are a few I wish I could meet in person. We share laughter and tears about our lives.

      I have a long distance relationship with my two younger brothers. There’s no doubt about the love shared. But we’ve never been good with really showing affection for each other. Still working on it.

      Ellin, this is such a wonderful piece.

      Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Garry- thank you for your description of me and your affection for both me and Tom. The feelings are mutual. You also seem to have many good people around you who you connect with on a deep level. I’ve just finished another blog on friendship that’s about situational friends, like work friends. There’s a place in life for them too. But they often disappear when the common bond that brought you together ends. You seem to have stayed in contact with many old work friends, but the intense connection just isn’t there anymore.

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    • It sounds like you have a rich cache of close friends. You are surrounded by meaningful relationships and that’s what really matters. It’s nice to have peripheral friends who we talk to and see occasionally. But it’s the close ones that enhance your life and enrich you. Old friends are particularly precious. But I have only known my closest friend today for 5 years, but the bond is there and so is the love. So, you can never tell in life.

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