Thursday, September 01, 2005

Old Friends

Do you ever find yourself thinking back to your time in highschool, college, or an old job where you had a friend you thought you would talk to forever? Now here it is several years later and you are thinking I wonder what ever happened to that person?

Yesterday, I had a chance to talk to just such a person. It was only through IM and only for about an hour but it was still nice. I got to hear about his son and see pictures and I gave him the link to the website. I think he will always be someone who I will keep in touch with, even if it is just once a year through Christmas cards.

While we were chatting he asked me about another old friend of mine. One, who I'm sorry to say, I will probably not keep in touch with. Back in highschool she was my "best friend." (It was important to stress that in highschool. Not just a friend a BEST friend!) We went everywhere together and talked on the phone almost every night. Whenever I had a fight with my boyfriend I could always count on her to take my side and tell me how it would all be okay.

I can honestly say, I miss that a lot. I'm not so sure, however, that I can say that I miss her. When you find yourself looking back on friendships like this there is almost always a reason you are no longer still in touch with this person. In our case, our lives just took two very separate paths. I think we began to drift apart when I went to college. I had goals and dreams for my life and she was pretty content to just stay at home and work in the fast food industry for the rest of her life.

Some time around my junior year of college she started hanging around with some pretty "questionable" people. We would still talk, but our phone calls got to be less and less frequent. About every month instead of every week. One night when she called she told me about an "encounter" she had had with a married man and his cousin, or friend, I can't recall which. Anyhow, she didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with having "relations" with a married man and another man all at the same time. That was when I realized that the friend I had known and loved was gone.

For the next few years she drifted in and out of my life. She would call every 3 or 4 months and we would talk. It was almost as if we never lost touch. Our conversations flowed easily and it felt like we had just picked up where we left off. I would start to question why we were not talking more often then, inevitably, she would end up mentioning something that would be going on in her life that would remind me of why we were no longer friends. Our lives had taken two different paths and the hopes of them converging again were slim to none.

About a two and a half years ago I got the call that she had decided to go into the army. Her life was going no where and she was tired of bouncing from one dead end job to another. The first thing that crossed my mind was maybe I would get my friend back. I thought maybe this was her chance to make something of her life. I was wrong.

As it turns out, her ambition in the army is a lot like in life. She tried really hard in the beginning, but is now just happy with the status quo. She still calls about every 6-9 months and I make small talk with her, but I have begun to realize that the friend I knew and loved is gone.

Everyone always talks about how they wish they could go back, but I now realize why we can't. People are in your life for a certain amount of time to make an impression. They either stay, or they leave, and if they go... it is probably for a reason. I miss the friend I used to have, but I have made new friends, friends who share my values and beliefs.

Maybe I will see her someday, at a class reunion, or in our hometown. I imagine that we will chat and be friendly, but in the end we will say our goodbyes and go our separate ways. Back to the lives we have made and the new people that fill them. I suppose this is probably as it should be. I would not trade the time I had with her for anything, but I would also not trade the life I have now.


JessOlson said...

I value my friends who have the same values and morals as me because it makes our time spent together easy, but as I grow older and begin to mature I have learned that some of my best friendships are with people who have different beliefs than I. Sometimes a difference in beliefs brings strength, diversity, and duration to a friendship. The friendship sheds light on "morals and values" in a shade you couldn't see before.