I am often prone to reflection–sometimes more trivial than at others, but mostly on life and where I am in my own as compared to where I thought I would be or where I would like to be. On love and how its meaning to me has evolved as I’ve gone from flirting to dating through to a handful of serious relationships and now a marriage. And on friendships–those I have and hold close and those that have come and gone over the years.
As the former continues to surprise me in more ways than I would like to admit, and as my husband and I continue to provide love and encouragement for one another as we both stumble seemingly blindly through this thing called life, I have come to realize, perhaps more so at this stage in my life than any other, just how much I truly cherish the handful of friends who have stuck by me over the years, and a handful of others I have picked up–or who have picked me up–along the way.
As children we seem to befriend whoever’s at arm’s length: the little boy next door, the girl sitting next to us on the bus or at school, the children of a parent’s friend or colleague, our partner in dance class. We have play dates and sleepovers, and we learn about ourselves through these relationships we start to develop with others. Sometimes we learn what we’d like to have or look like or where we’d like to be from. Other times we learn we’re lucky to have what we do.
We form judgments. We encourage and empathize and poke fun. We share stories and secrets; we succeed and fail; we gossip. And as we get older, we continue this cycle with each new person we meet. We size them up, we find a common ground, and we determine–likely within just a moment or two–whether we think this is something that will really last. Sometimes we’re right, other times dead wrong. But throughout the process, we continue to learn and grow as individuals and as companions.
For a very long time I seemed to collect friends–in grade school through dance class or at soccer practice; in high school at parties or sporting events; and in college through my sorority or at the bar where I worked, in classes, throughout campus and everywhere in between. And in my adult life–anywhere and everywhere, really. I have always been a romantic about friendship and loyalty and have always been hurt when friendships fall short. At present, I finally recognize and appreciate that not all friendships are meant to last and that each plays a certain role. As I get older and as my lifestyle shifts, some of these friendships have shifted with it, while others have casually fizzled out.
The individuals I consider close friends now are a healthy mix of friends I’ve made throughout my life–a few of us have known each other since we were 10 or 11 years old. We’ve gone through life together and we continue to go through life together. A few others are friends from college or my first years in New York. And a few more are friends from recent years, brought together through similar interests or endeavors or, as when I was living in Paris, geographical conveniences.
I appreciate each of these friendships in very different ways–more so than I can verbalize–and I am finally certain that regardless of what our respective futures hold, there will always be a place in our lives for one another. It might not be every day, or even every month, but it will be there, and we’ll be waiting to pick back up wherever it was we left off. Because, at the end of the day, that is what true friendship is. Something we know and can trust in, and that only continues to grow stronger and deeper with time.