“Make new friends, but keep the old…”
I know, now it’s stuck in your head. It’s a song I learned back when I was a Girl Scout, but the meaning still rings true today.
It’s been more than 15 years since I’ve seen some of my college friends. All those years, and this past weekend, it felt like I was back in my dorm room, like no time had passed.
I got to see three of my good friends. They were my suitemates. All of us in tight quarters, some sharing a room, all of us sharing a kitchen, bathroom and ONE telephone. I think there were a total of 10 of us. No cell phones, no computers (at least Freshman year), no car, just each other. We came from different states, had different taste in music (at least at first) and friends and family we left at home to embark on our own for the very first time. I just remember being excited and terrified all at once with my newfound freedom. I’m not exactly shy, but I grew up in a small town, and this was my first real taste of independence. I wouldn’t have my parents asking me if I went to class, did my homework or ate dinner. I wouldn’t have to explain where I was if I didn’t show up by curfew. I was on my own, 4 hours from home. What would happen if I hated it? If I didn’t make friends? If I wanted to change my major?
But, as alone and nervous as I felt after the last hug and kiss from my parents, I had a group of girls in the exact same boat as I was. We were strangers, who gradually bonded into sisters. Some of us shared classes and majors, but it was the time spent in our suite where we fell into fast friendships with each other. It didn’t matter what kind of clothes we had, or what kind of music we listened to or how we did our hair, we got to know each other, rubbed off on each other, leaned on each other through the good times and bad and honestly never stopped laughing.
Fast forward to this past weekend. After all this time, we’ve stayed in touch. Keeping tabs on the big things: marriage, kids and careers and always wondering when we’d get to hang out again. Attempts were made several times and sometimes fell through, but we always kept trying. Finally, we did it. WHY did we wait soo long?
We decided to meet in the middle for everyone. I, on a solo road trip for the first time in a long time, since I have two young children. I hit the road and let my mind wander. Would it be the same? Have they changed? I hope not! I wondered about all those years, the good and the bad times. I thought about when we all first met, I thought about all the laughs we had, some of the tears we shared, the weekends away. I got more and more excited as I got closer to seeing them! I think it took me a while because I kept thinking something would happen and we wouldn’t be able to meet.
We all arrived within a few minutes of each other, sharing long hugs and smiles, commenting on how long it’s been, saying, “Finally!”
No awkward silences. No weird moments. Nothing off limits. Immediately comfortable again, like we had just seen each other last week. The only thing I can attribute that to is the amazing friendship we established way back in college.
There was just a closeness that I felt never left. A trust, really. I missed my friends, they missed me. We were older now, with a hell of a lot more responsibilities and worries, but I still felt like I was in college again with just some really good girlfriends.
So, I usually avoid giving unsolicited advice, but here goes: Make plans with your friends, go see them. Life is too short. Don’t wait until a better time, or a weekend that you haven’t packed with a million things to do. Make time for the people in your life who mean so much to you. You still need each other.