What I Appreciate Most About My Oldest Friends

You know the saying, "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold?" Well, I am a gold collector, but not of the 14 or 18 karat variety.

After I moved 1,600 miles from the place I grew up, I lost touch with just about everyone I grew up with, including some good friends. It was hard to manage long distance (expensive) phone calls or snail mail in the 1980's, so they just gradually faded from my world. I felt disconnected to my past in a way.

The technology for communication available in the early 1980s and when I was growing up in the sixties and seventies was a telephone with busy signals and no answering machines, and note passing. If you haven't read my blog on this topic here, you are missing out.

Thanks more recently to various reunions and social media, I am in touch again with so many who were important to me in my formative years. Having these friends again is like striking gold. There is a treasure trove of shared memories, secrets, exploits, shenanigans, and growing pains that no one else can share with you as these friends can do. Doesn't everyone become more sentimental as we age? People and memories are that much more special to us as we grow older.

Compared to when I first moved away, it is so easy to keep in touch now; smart phones provide a place to message for a quick response, email is great, and sharing photos and memories on social media is fantastic as well. In fact, technology and social media have done wonders in restoring long lost friendships, and should be so credited.

If you read some of my previous blogs, you know I just love reminiscing, (or reminisson -- a clever spin on my maiden name as someone termed it) about the "old days."

I think it is so important to be able to revisit one's self before maturity set in, before one was fully formed. Though it exposes warts and all, and some of the memories are cringe-worthy, it is valuable for me to see how far I have come.

In fact, I have diaries from my past, and the only problem with reviewing them to revisit my past is that the events are viewed solely from my own standpoint. They tell a story of my former self, and they paint a picture of a very different person than the one I am today. It's hard to believe who I was - so clueless about life, so immature, so emotional and emotionally needy, so hormonal. I so wish I could go back in time and guide and instruct that struggling young girl and make it a bit easier to grow up. Yet Joan Didion was so wise in her essay, "On Keeping a Notebook."

She says: "I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were."

How beautifully, and correctly stated.

Even better than reading my diaries is when I share events from the past with someone else who experienced it, because it brings in another perspective.

I know there are others like me, who hold their friends from the past as something more precious than jewels.

Some of my jewels live in far-flung places, and we keep in touch via emails, and an occasional phone call, and if they still live around where I grew up, an occasional visit. These visits are filled with emotion; hugs and tenderness, and laughter, and sometimes tears.
We looked like Trouble with a capital T but we were good girls.
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My dear friend who goes all the way back to my last years in elementary school through high school knows my entire speckled history and loves me anyway. My wonderful two close high school friends, who helped shield me from mean girls, (I had a late puberty and was geeky) and who provided sass, acceptance, perspective on certain boys and loves, and even style and beauty tips, are the result of an early reunion that I am so grateful I attended. Every visit with them is so incredibly special, and they make me giggle in a way no one else can, evoking a feeling of carefree youth that only those freeing giggles can do.
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I have a camp friend who I go way, way back with and who I am lucky enough to have living in the same city as me. We have such fun together talking about the old days, and even singing camp songs. Miraculously, we both still remember them.
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My high school boyfriend is someone I enjoy being in touch with because he believed in me before I believed in myself, and loved and accepted me unconditionally at a critical time. Keeping in touch with him provides an important link to my past.

Friends from the late high school and college era are precious to me too, and I make sure they know that as I keep in touch with as many of them as possible.

Even my friends of 30-plus years that I made after I moved away, who knew me as a naïve young married woman, and who evolved through parenting with me, are golden as well.

Finally, since I am a people person, I love making new friends, and I continue to do so all the time. They are the other precious metal, the silver to all of the gold with which I try to surround myself.

Other than my wonderful family, my friends are my life's riches, and if I think about it, between my oldest friends, my adulthood friends, and my newer friends, I am rich beyond all measure.

Read my regular blog at www.arlenelassin.com

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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