One of my primary goals for this blog has always been to ground it in reality. I want to bring up issues of friendship as they affect us everyday and not get too involved with cheesy clichés or sentimental celebrations of the sisterhood of women. But it’s hard to write about my weekend without veering into sappy territory.
I spent the majority of the last three days in the company of 500 former Tripp Lakers at the camp’s 100-year reunion. More immediately, I spent the time with 13 women—both my age and one year older—whom I’ve known since I was approximately 8 years old. What struck me about the weekend (other than how much we used to do in a day—sailing and singing and enameling, oh my!) was how incredibly natural it was. Staying up late whispering, laughing at Michelle’s rants, pretending to be asleep when our next door neighbor asked us to be quiet. I hadn’t seen some of these ladies in over 10 years, and once we all rolled out our sleeping bags it was as if we picked up where we left off. We didn’t skip a beat.
There is something special about old friends. Not best friends, necessarily, but friends who knew you when your hair was so short that people thought you were a boy (Thanks Mom!). They understand the jokes you make about Tara Gordon, the uber-cool older camper whose long hair you envied (and hasn’t changed!) when you rocked the boy bowl cut.
The only way to describe my weekend is to say I felt like I’d travelled back in time. The taste of the lake water in my mouth, the walk up the hill, and the goosebumps when a moth flew through my shower all made me feel like 12-year-old again. But ultimately the getaway was about the enduring nature of old friendships. If I hadn’t rock climbed or played field hockey, I’d still have left with a sense of unusual satisfaction. As ridiculous as it sounds, I was with my people. We don’t need to talk on the phone, or even see each other once a year. The summers we shared will always be there, and there’s something about people who knew you in your formative years. They know who you were and watched you become who you are.
The point of all this yammering on is that we all have these friends. People we don’t talk to that often—maybe hardly ever—but with whom, when we do see each other, it seems as if no time has passed. What I’m trying to make sense of is what makes for this kind of relationship. Why is it sometimes so awkward when you run into an old pal, and other times it’s frighteningly easy? (I do think there’s something to be said for environment. If I’d seen these ladies on the streets of Chicago, would conversation have come as easily as it did in the place where our friendships originally formed? I think not.) Thoughts?