I’m excited to share today’s guest post from fellow writer Cara Meredith. Cara and I “met” (online) because we run in some of the same circles, blog-wise. I’ve been enjoying her blog, Be, Mama. Be. for quite a while now and was honored to do a guest post for her last month. Whenever I read Cara’s writing I just want to sit down with her, some big cups of coffee and a cozy couch and talk about all the things. I think you’ll see what I mean.
Old Friends are the Best Friends
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Old Friends are the Best Friends.
Now I’m not knocking those who’ve only been in my life for a year or two, but to me, there’s something powerful about being around people who stake double-digit claim to how long they’ve known you. Suddenly, that which unites current, everyday friends – children who are similar in age or religious beliefs and practices or the city we dwell in – doesn’t seem to hold so much weight.
The irony is that when Old Friends step into the picture again, we can seem to hold little in common: staunch Republican, left-wing Democrat; traditional evangelical Christian, meditative Buddhist yogi; married with four children, single and still ready to mingle. If you’d asked me ten years ago if I thought I could stay in relationship with those who hadn’t moved and grown along with me (and like me, I might add), I’d have likely mumbled a pithy reply. I’d have shaken my head in solemn understanding of the sadness of my own plight. I’d have said my good-byes, at least in my mind, no sooner than burning old letters and dreaming of Friendship’s Funeral.
We share great memories, I would have said to you, but memories can’t sustain a friendship in the present.
Or can it?
I’m beginning to realize I was wrong.
Maybe wisdom is starting to grab hold of me. Maybe I’m learning that life isn’t as narrow and compartmentalized as I make it out to be, at least when I’m hurting and sad and missing the people who make me whole. And maybe I’m also realizing that life is merely and solely and wholly made up of relationships. Life is made up of people, of lovely, messy humans who are mine – and who, the grand scheme of This One Beautiful and Precious Life matter to me.
To say that I’m thankful for Old Friends is an understatement. Because gratitude burgeons deep in my insides when their faces come to mind, while affection for the stories we share mercilessly stirs the waters of my soul.
Because the books I own, they don’t matter. The writing I do, it too doesn’t matter. The house we love, the television we watch, the baseball games we attend – don’t matter, don’t matter, don’t matter.
But the people – oh, the people, they do matter.
For me, I’m beginning to sprinkle a bit more grace into my relationships. My standard for friendship used to be high, even though I wouldn’t have classified it as such – but for me, you were a good friend, we were good friends if you pursued me and sought after me, if you showed me you wanted to be my friend. And maybe that’s why if and when someone – an Old Friend of sorts – didn’t live up to my standards, like the cardboard I stockpile in our recycle bin, I discarded them easily, carelessly, breezily.
But now I want my cardboard back.
I want and I yearn and I salivate for those Old Friends, for the ones I don’t have to explain myself to, for she who loves me despite my flaky nature. I want to be around those people – who are, by all accounts My People – even if we don’t dress the same way or eat the same way or worship the same way anymore. Because there is tenderheartedness toward each other in the stories we’ve shared, as we remember and retell and revisit our histories.
After all, we share us. We share the memories that made us and shaped us and defined us, the adventures we took together when we didn’t have more than $74 to our name, when we thought backpacking was the greatest invention since sliced bread. We share stories of Europe and Costa Rica, of Santa Cruz and Portland and Seattle, of campfires and barbeques, sleepovers and road trips. We share the growing up we did together, as teenagers and as young adults, and we share the common experience of learning how to be our most raw and real selves, the Real Me hidden inside all along.
Because here’s the truth: joy and gratitude can mingle anywhere. Maybe it’s the optimist in me, but I believe they’re there, waiting for our cue to start the dance party, ready for our eyes to open to what’s already there. For me, this mingling happened with old friends on Friday night, over wild boar and cheddar sausages and chunky summer salad and coffee mugs filled with chilled Chardonnay. We gathered to visit with our old roommate and friend who’d flown across the Pacific to say hello, but it ended up being so much more than a backyard barbeque.
It ended up being a reunion of Old Friends.
And Old Friends, as you well know by now, are the best friends.