On Making New Friends (And Keeping The Old).
Make new friends — but keep the old.
One is silver and the other gold.
I always hated that rhyme. It’s confusing. Which friend is silver and which friend is gold?
The dollar value of gold, as a precious metal, is higher than that of silver per troy ounce, which insinuates that either old friends are better than new friends or new friends are better than old friends, and I honestly just don’t really understand the point of trying to figure it out. Old friends are comfortable. They fit. Like a fantastic pair of worn-in hiking boots, they might be tattered and even a bit smelly, but you know those smells. You’re familiar with every scar, scratch, and patch. And while there may, from time to time, be a spot that rubs you raw, you know that time will make it soft again. The old friends knew you before you were you.
Me, Erica, and Allison circa 1993-ish?
Me ‘n Collin, circa 2001.
Me ‘n Alaina. I don’t know how she still puts up with me.
Blake, me, and Scottie B. Only your BEST guy friends will show up at your bachelorette party.
And the new friends, it turns out, know the you that you are today. That person you’ve been trying so hard to become — be it witty, spontaneous, or wildly successful, they weren’t privy to your failures. Your old weaknesses don’t exist to them. At least not yet. They effortlessly reinforce the positive changes you’ve made because they don’t know any better. Of course, the longer and more complex our histories become, the harder it is to break in the rough leather we find in new friends, but it’s possible and wonderful when you learn to climb without a limp.
Erin, me, and Bec in Nicaragua.
Leslie, me, ‘n Christie.
The value of both is immense. The truth, I think, is that you should just have friends. Good ones. And you should be a good friend yourself — n’est-ce pas?
Me ‘n Stacy.
Me ‘n Rachel.
It’s been implied before that I’m not great friend material because I don’t seem to put forth the effort required to maintain a bountiful friendship, but that’s not the way I see it. I love each and every one of my friends.
My problems, it seems, are twofold:
1) I have a horrific memory. I’d like to blame it on my limited-time high school friend, Mary J, but truth-be-told, I’m pretty sure that my brain was never fitted with the robust and complex memory system that most people seem to have. It’s very difficult for me to remember dates and names, so it takes me a while to get acquainted. And while it’s really important to me when friends are going through difficult situations like illness or other ailments, I might not remember exactly which illness or ailments particular friends are dealing with at particular times. Often, and understandably, this gets misconstrued as not caring. Which couldn’t be further from the truth.
2) I may be loud, outgoing, and not afraid to speak my mind, but believe it or not, I’m actually quite introverted. And I’ve grown more-so over the years. And though I have no qualms about putting myself out there in the interest of learning something new or meeting new people, I find the act of making small talk tiresome and fake. That’s why I often rub some people the wrong way — I like to jump right into the meat of things: politics, religion, human rights. Why waste time on small talk? I want to know who you are. Not who you think you want me to think you are.
My particular combination of friendship-building struggles has, fortunately for me, filtered into this fantastic collection of people in my life who understand, for the most part, who I actually am. We may not talk every day, or even every month — but these are the people who know me and know, without question, that I’m here if they need me. We can pick up where we left off and not question whether or not our friendship still exists.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about “people pods” — and I’m lucky enough to have even more now: The chic designer girls with the supercool haircuts who know about fashion and art and what it means to be fiercely independent, the Advocare super athletes who strive to be healthy and beat cancer down like the common cold, the intellectual feminist military spouse moms who read sci-fi and fantasy and aren’t afraid to breast feed in public, and the online writers and photographers who share bits of their lives and knowledge with me via blogs and emails and sometimes even in person.
Just to name a few.
Some, I’m sure, will fade when we move, and others will make it longer. Such is friendship.
Such is life.
But now, as I’m getting ready to embark on the next big adventure, it occurs to me that I might be getting in over my head.
That by sometimes being negligent of some friendships while cavorting with others or simply holing up in my office for three days and talking to no one, maybe I don’t have time for new pods.
Maybe in Virginia I should become a hermit and spend three years working on a novel and growing out my toenails.
Justin would love it.
But the thing of it is, I know that won’t happen. I love meeting people. I love learning from people. I love my pods — old ones and new — and it doesn’t really matter whether they last or not — it only matters that they existed at all. That they had their time. That they left their mark.
And that, I think — whether silver or gold or copper or tin — is called fortune.
Laura Lynn and me, circa 2001.