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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.’