The bonds of friendship, whether new or old, mean so much to me. They always have. I think as a middle child I worried about being left out, so I constantly organized get-togethers and surrounded myself with people. I am still quite the organizer, as new friends consistently come into my life as neighbors, parents of my children’s classmates, members at my church, carpoolers for extra-curricular activities, or frequenters of the same coffee shop.
Old or new, my adult friendships typically get me through the rough days and bring extra light on the good days. This post is an homage to the pals I have known for years and years, but I look forward to writing another post in the future about new friends, and my mommy network, and even my neighbors. Because all of the people in those groups are well on their way to being my staple friends for life.
Gal Pals that Shop (and Eat, and Laugh, and Etc., Etc., Etc.)
I recently went on a shopping trip with a bunch of old friends that involved two nights in a hotel, spending way too much money on holiday presents, and laughing until my gut hurt. We also ate a lot of cheesecake and ordered appetizers at every meal. When I say “old friends”, I mean the longevity of our friendship encompasses a number of years. I do not at all mean we are old, despite what my four-year-old tells me on a weekly basis.
This annual holiday shopping trip has been happening for about ten years. Almost every trip involves a pregnant or nursing mother. Typically one or two of us are fighting a sinus infection. We have battled snow and ice storms, and even some last minute canceled trips due to emergencies and tragedies. These ladies have all been there for me through major milestones. Some I have known since elementary school and others shared a bathroom or class load with me in college. A few are former “work friends” or extended family members, and some are “friends of friends” that lost the “of friends” introduction a long time ago because we all just click. I wish this annual trip could happen more often, but life is busy. The fact that we all make a huge effort to drive hours and meet up for a short weekend makes this excursion the best event of the season for me.
Ways We Connect
A lot of my partners in crime knew me by my maiden name, and were permanent fixtures throughout my childhood or college experience. The working world, my husband, and my children have also cemented some great friendships for me. Not all of my old friends go on my annual holiday shopping trip. Some of them make time for me in other extraordinary ways. A few haul their spouses and kids to my house for overnight stays or long afternoons of bonding. A few visit during their summer vacation and I usually return the favor for winter or spring break. Others squeeze me in for coffee or lunch when one of us is passing through town and only has 49 free minutes to spare. It may be completely inconvenient, but these people are worth every moment of those 2,940 seconds.
Some pals stay in touch via social media, and that keeps our connection to each other more current. I laugh the hardest when a good text chain or FB group message gets going between old classmates or college pals because no one misses the punchline and there are so many inside jokes to share. Some of my favorite people are gone from this earth, but pay visits in my dreams and make my heart hurt knowing I cannot see them on my own schedule. Old friends are the ones you hug the tightest and no matter what happens in the future, you never forget.
Friendships that feel like going home (again, and again, and again).
The comfort of being with old friends is like no other feeling. Being able to reminisce without a whole lot of backstory means there is more time to catch up on things that matter. Pals that have known me for what feels like forever, allow me to be brutally honest, as well as vulnerable, sarcastic, and goofy. They know I love my husband even though his annoying habits are getting the better of me on certain weeks. They understand the need to escape the children, but still talk non-stop with me about parenting due to the little knot of homesick mom guilt that follows all of us around while on a girl’s trip.
My old friends are typically the people who came into my life when I was still figuring myself out from a maturity standpoint, and thankfully never left. They sat next to me in a class or we walked the blacktop together at recess. They may have known my husband first, but now they know me better because once you become a part of my inner circle I have a tendency to overshare. Some of my greatest guy pals married my best girl pals and made all of our lives and couple trips sweeter in the process.
Early Years to Golden Years, and Everything in Between
Many of my beloved comrades saw me through adolescence, late college nights, and stages of being a less than gracious friend. And they will be the ones that get the engraved invitations to retire together to the same cul-de-sac of duplexes somewhere warm or in neighboring tiny houses on the beach. (Just kidding, I would never live in a tiny house. Some of my best friends would though, so I will maybe concede to living near them in a bigger house for parties, card playing, and the ability to stand up at full height while in the kitchen area.)
Who knows what retirement will bring and I sure do not want to think about it too much yet, but whenever I do think about aging I know I want to do it surrounded by great friends. The old ones and the new ones. There would be no better way to spend my golden years (in between beautifully patterned visits from my children), than with those who have been with me since the early years.