Thursday, April 23, 2009

Old Friends

I had one of those wonderful weeks when old friends kept popping back into my life. First, I got a call from a person who is, perhaps, my oldest friend. She and I were next-door playmates as kids--like over 50 years ago--and have managed to keep the relationship alive and kicking ever since, despite the fact her family moved to California in the early 60’s. She and her husband have ties back here in the area, so she’s been a frequent visitor, but that’s no explanation for the fact that it’s kind of like we’re constantly in the midst of a conversation that’s gone on all these years. It picks up where it left off whenever we speak and will, I think, go on forever.
But the call from my west coast friend wasn’t the only blast from my past this week.
Saturday morning, we embarked on a quick road trip to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Mt. Pleasant is the home of Iowa Wesleyan College. I graduated from IWC back in the day, and still remain in contact with a few classmates. The purpose of the gathering was to celebrate the birthdays of a few of my old mates. A general topic of conversation was specifically about the “old” part.
Remember, we’re from the “never trust anybody over 30” generation, so approaching three score is rather chilling. Funny thing is, though, that we still consider ourselves to be pretty young. Pretty lively, even, I think. I’m more than a little embarrassed now when I think of how decrepit I felt my parents were when they were my age.
So how is it that I’ve managed to hold onto these friends of mine?
It’s not out of any kind of constant contact, as we sometimes go years without any conversations at all. We’ve never used social networking internet sites like Facebook, Friendster or MySpace to stay in touch, nor have we even done much emailing or even good, old-fashioned letter writing. But the bond--and the friendship--remain.
There are two guys and their wives, in particular, that we’ve stayed close to ever since college days. We’ve all clicked--guys and wives alike--and have spent time over the years doing things together now and then. There have been adventures, like the houseboat trips we used to take on the upper Mississippi, but more important have been the quieter times we’ve spent sharing thoughts, ideas, laughs and dreams as we’ve each built careers and families.
Suddenly, we’ve gone from being college guys with nary a clue to a social worker/psychologist, a businessman and IT professional and a writer. We are husbands and fathers. One of us (that’s me) is a grandfather, with another due to enter that happy state in the next month or two. We are honest-to-goodness, real-life grownups.
And we’re still friends.
I looked for a quote that would do a better job than I can do of expressing the value of these old friends. I found a couple:

“Good old friends are like stars. You don't always see them, but you know they are always there”


“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”

Thanks, friends.

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