Make new friends…but keep the old…

Back before I retired from the Girl Scouts…yes, I was part of the gaggle of green-gowned girls, we would traipse around singing our motto…”Make new friends, but keep the old…one is silver and the other’s gold…” And, in between selling cookies and earning badges, we all focused on the obvious – which one is silver and which one is gold?

Friendship was an easy task for an eight year old. Friends came and went – the sadness and excitement that accompanied each transition were just as quick. Having things in common was simple – meet a girl on the playground and three seconds later you would be comparing sibling counts, food likes, doll collections. It was nearly impossible not to make new friends.

Time changes things. I’m older. I’m creakier. I have to shop in the grown up departments instead of the Garanimals section. And, I’m learning that the cycle of friendships is getting shorter.

I did hear once upon a time from someone wiser than me…that as you grew older, the amount of friends you surrounded yourself with got smaller – but the quality of those friendships became greater. As usual, I assumed that the ‘as you grew older’ part related to folks my grandmother’s age. As in – when you do end up in a nursing home, you and your roommate will get along famously. Evidently, people my age have grown older.

So how do I balance friendship versus change? Distance versus quality? When one friend moves onto a new phase in life, how do I not automatically seek someone ‘more like me’ to attach myself too? And is it wrong to do so?

Sometimes, it’s easy – the latest to hit the road is moving clear out of the state…up past the Mason Dixon line. While her new adventure does seem exciting, it’s put me in that weird place where I try not to care about whether I’ll miss her. In fact, I think we’ve both been pulling away from each other for months now. (Ironically, I face commitment the same way – by pulling away). Clearly, I will miss her – but not being able to trek over to her house at the drop of a hat will make it easier to move on. Which sounds cold.

I’ve joked recently that I’m taking applications for a new posse. Or restacking the friendship deck – oromotions and demotions are imminent. To be honest…I kind of think this is smart.

Women have this tendency to latch onto other women and then assume they have to stick together like glue forever. 50% of the time, those friendships don’t really pan out so we start bad-mouthing one another until there’s a small cat fight just before closing at the local bar. Then we cry and hug and tell each other soppy things…only to sober up the next day and realize we never should have been friends in the first place. It’s exhausting.

I think the fact that my two closest friends in the entire world live five and eight hours away might say something. It’s just easier. We don’t have to hang out all the time. We don’t have to talk everyday. We don’t have to wonder what the other one is doing on Saturday night. Yeah, we talk when we need to talk or when we want to talk or when we’re bored or not bored- but there is no ‘oh man, I haven’t seen you in forever’ guilt.

Those are my gold friends. The friendships that can take months off at a time and then reconvene as if it were yesterday. And, yeah, the likelihood of those being long-distant friendships is high…but the reality is there are people right here in my home town that I don’t see for months and then just skirt getting arrested with on a Saturday night.

I guess the bottom line is – even though I have gotten older, creakier and more acclimating to matching my own outfits…one thing hasn’t changed. I still think friendships should be easy. Find a few things in common – important or not, it doesn’t matter. Enjoy each day together as if the other might have to switch schools at any second. And pay special attention to those who you don’t see often, but feel like you are never apart from.

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