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?
13 responses to “My Superpower: Time Travel”
What a lovely tribute to your old summer days at camp, and the bonds that have lasted.
I don’t know what factors contribute to these special types of friendships…but we can’t be special friends with every single person out there. Sometimes you just click…and well…maybe it’s better not knowing? Then we’ll always be surprised the next time it happens?
It sounds like you had a great kids’ week out! I will drink a beer for your hubby as you regale him with tales of girl talk. Maybe more than one?
We just moved back to my wife’s home town, a place where we have mutual friends. We have run into a few old friends who are effortless to be around. Even after marriage and kids we’ve retained ‘something’. We’ve also run into people (small town, remember) with whom it’s awkward. I don’t know what makes the difference – who’s paradigm has shifted?
I agree with Tommy – there are some friends with whom to pick up as if it hadn’t been 10, 15 years since we last saw each other is effortless. And there are some where it is so awkward, you wonder why they are still a “friend.”
I think it is a combination of age when we met, and how close we were, and for how long (but there are always exceptions).
My sorority sisters – awkward. Friend from high school – effortless. Friend from first job out of college – effortless. Friend from defunct bookclub – awkward. Go figure!
But one of my best friends and I had a hiatus of nearly 10 years and picked right back up (after working through the issues of falling off the planet).
There is something to be said for friends who “knew you when,” and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
I think a lot of our relationships really do have a lot to do with the context of where we first knew each other. As you said, it might not work with your camp friends on the streets of downtown Chicago, but when you’re back in the comfort of camp, it’s easy to fall back into old habits.
Honestly, I have this type of relationship with my brother. We haven’t lived in the same time zone since I was still in college, and up until that time our relationship existed as we were dependents of our parents, living at home and being in school. We don’t know each other as well as adults with things like careers, households and responsibilities because we’ve never shared day-to-day life as adults. Whenever we are in the same place at the same time, we often revert back to the way we were as kids.
Wow Beth! Sept 9 I will be meeting with an old high school friend, on the 10 we getting together with female friends from our class of 1978. I will have to get back to on how it goes. But being back in my home town is working out surprisingly well,and reconnecting with school friends has been amazing or awkward, depending on if it was a friend or foe. (From age10 to 13 I went through a phase of beating the crap out of boys out had ridiculed me mercilessly). I have reconnected with out of town on facebook and many of them are coming in Sept, I am looking forward ro it.
Now to answer your question from my experience, it has been thsame aa I described above. It was when living in NYC, London, or Raleigh. In Raleigh I actually worked with a friend from Natick! Small world:)
Shared experiences in the past combined with planned reunions in the present make for really wonderful new memories. But, it’s that planning to get together that seals the deal. I think if you were to run into the same people randomly and unexpectedly on the street, the likelihood for a few awkward moments vastly increases.
I have two comments on this. One– after 6 years of not keeping in touch, my grade school best friend and I found each other on Facebook after college graduation, and decided to have dinner since we were back in the same town. We clicked instantly, as if no time had passed, even though I don’t remember being as close as we are now when we were in grade school. We are still good friends to this day, 4 years later. I think our instant reconnection had to do with our personalities. We clicked in middle school for a reason, and it was probably that same chemistry that helped us click again years later– regardless of environment. Secondly, one of my very closest friends from college had her mother die unexpectedly this weekend. I was immediately upset upon finding out and an emotional wreck. Even though I don’t keep in touch with this friend as often I think of her, the past few days have made me realized how much I truly love her, and her mother, who, in actuality, was my first friend and friendly face in college before I even met her daughter. No amount of time or distance or lack of communication or environment could change our friendship– she will always be someone I consider to be a very close friend. (In fact– I once commented about her on a MWF/BFF blog post about saying I love you too soon!). So basically, I believe true friendships have a connection that time and distance can not erase, regardless of environment.
I relate to this so well. Just last week, my husband surprised me with a super early b-d party and I was reunited with some of my oldest friends. My high school friends were there and we keep in touch, but don’t always talk often. But when we got together last week, there was no tension and no awkwardness. We picked up where we left off. It was a great and comforting feeling.
I absolutely think where you reunite is the clencher….because if you have not maintained contact with a friend, and you meet un- expectedly, there is a higher likely hood of feeling…” are you happy to see me or were you happy to let contact fade?”
So everybody agreeing to meet, sets the stage, that we all want to reconnect if even just for the weekend….it says ” I am here because the time I spent with you is a valuable memory to me”…
Reuniting in the context of your memories is probably a huge part of the reconnecting – if there is ever a moment of awkwardness, all you have to do is bring up an old memory and time is rewound.
It sounds like it was a blast!
While you were in Poland Maine I was in Chicago with two very dear TLC friends. It was as though we had seen each other yesterday..something about Summer Camp in general and Trip Lake in particular.We had fun recalling old times and just as much fun going to Ravinia to hear one of their daughters perform as a rising opera star.TLC forever!
I can completely relate to your story of the bowl haircut. I had one too, that my mom thought was the cutest thing ever. Ugghhh! I hated looking like a boy! Now I keep my hair nice and long. 🙂 Keep writing! I have so enjoyed your journey as I walk through mine.