Scott made me realize a truth the other day, as I texted with him after the arrival in Nepal of a great friend of his from San Diego: “So wonderful to see a friend of old. I mentioned that to him, how it’s so wonderful to have some long history with someone after months of interacting with people who I have a short-term relationship with. Many people I’ve met who I hope I’ll stay in contact with, but it’s nice to have that long relationship already established.”
The truth of that statement struck me instantly: New friends are a treasure, but the heart also longs for friends with whom you have a history.
A college roommate of mine used to quote her mother to me: Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold. Truth.
We left our home in San Diego in October 2011, and since then have lived among new friends, staying in touch with old friends via visits, Facebook, and emails. (Once in a blue moon we might get an actual letter or card.)
So often, friends will say how they love keeping up with us on Facebook, reading about all of our adventures, etc. That is one reason I use Facebook, to maintain connections with friends. But what most of those friends don’t realize is that we need some feedback and information from them, not just have them simply read our postings. We long to stay informed about our friends’ lives, even the seemingly mundane things.
We have made and are establishing new friendships, many with people we hope to have long-term relationships with (numerous people from Brazil, for starters, who are now considered “old friends”), but it’s the old friends who already know us who give us comfort and a sense of home.
Tom and I were at a social event for Tom’s work last night. I put on my smile-and-converse hat and blithely followed Tom into the mix, making new acquaintances and trying to remember the names of the few folks I had met before. I long to enter a room where I know people, where people know me and already like me, where I don’t have to be “on” and engaging in order to pass the evening. I long for a roomful of friends who will greet us and love us for who we are to them.
It will happen here, as it happened in Brazil. That is the way of life. And yet…
While we were in Brazil, we had one best friend visit us, and one of Tom’s friends from college who was passing through with her daughter and stopped by. Besides the kids, no other visitors. (Understandably, given the distance and the cost to get there.)
Here in Calgary, one best-friends couple has visited so far, and my mom is due here next week. We have another best-friend couple coming in September, and others have promised that they would come in the four years that we are here. (Three years and change remain now…)
I hope they do come. Every visit with a beloved friend is nourishment.
Until Scott’s comment, I hadn’t truly realized how much I miss old friends. They are gold.