This last Saturday, I had the wonderful privilege, the fabulous luck, the absolute thrill of seeing two of my college roommates for the first time in 20 years. I would have recognized them anywhere, they look the same, and they were kind enough to say the same about me. We have aged oh so gracefully. We only had time for dinner this visit, but I hope there will be more visits in the future.
It made me think, in the subsequent days, how I have changed. The introspection isn't always comfortable, but the occasion to see dear friends when you've not seen them for years is a rare thing. Compared to the twenty-something me, the forty something me is less bothered by what other people think of her. I used to constantly put words in people's heads about what they were thinking of me when I was young and insecure. These two dear and wonderful women were always kind, sincere, not involved in the cattiness many women get swept up in, and sought always to be supportive of me and the path I was choosing.
I often feel bad, and feel like I am a bad friend when I have failed to stay in touch with people who've been part of my life at some time in my life. My friends assured me that it was never taken that way, and that they felt the same way sometimes.
My grandmother used to be very particular about me writing letters to friends as I moved around the country with my family from Army base to Army base. I had a hard time keeping up with friends, and they would slowly drift to the bottom of the 'to do' pile. I never meant to put them there, but staying in touch was hard work sometimes. Grandma would tell me how she still wrote to all her friends. It's very likely that Grandma only met 500 or so people in her whole life. I've met 5,000. Or more. How do you keep up?
Until just recently, the answer was, you didn't. I thought often of my friends in Killeen, Leavenworth (the town, not the prison), Joppatowne, Lompoc, Solvang, and San Luis Obispo, but finding them was out of the question. Then came the internet, then Facebook. It's been so easy. And I've been so happy. There's no pressure to write long tomes of all the things you've done - people just catch up as we go forward together in time.
I have to appreciate Facebook sincerely for this. I have no more 'I didn't keep in touch' guilt. And I've discovered that you basically continue to be the person you have always been. The girl I was at 20, she's still around. Maybe more polished, less anxious, more grateful, and less needy, but there nonetheless.
Realizing that about myself has been mildly interesting, but finding out that two dear friends are still two dear friends - now that is fabulous!
I hope to always see my friends this way - not looking for how they've changed, but searching instead for what it was about them that made me like them in the first place. I want to be understanding of the trials that have battered them, grateful for the joys in their lives, and hopeful that their presence in my life will be ongoing.