A Case of Nostalgia

This weekend marked another stop on the annual wedding circuit. I’m told that this phase of my life (we’re attending seven weddings in 2011, six of which are out of town) will slow down in a couple of years, but since I’ve already got four weddings lined up for 2012, I don’t see that happening soon.

Saturday’s affair was one of my closest friends from college’s nuptials. Which meant the entire weekend consisted of bonding with my besties and reminiscing about the old days. After I got home last night, I spent some time analyzing the difference between time with old friends and new.

A year and a half ago, I would have come home close to tears, totally bummed that I didn’t have anyone in Chicago who measured up to my college BFFs. But now I have Chicago friends. I may still be searching for The One, but I’ve racked up plenty of pals here–people I could invite to last-minute brunch, even if they couldn’t attend. Still, there is a noticeable difference between hanging out with the college crowd and hanging out with my new friends, and I think the culprit is, simply, time.

I met my college friends 11 years ago. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. For three of those years we lived together,  spending every waking moment by each others’ sides. A friend and I were laughing over the weekend at how even though we were roommates and took classes together and went out as a group at night, whenever I’d run into her at the gym during our college days, I’d stop her mid-run and she’d stand on the side of the treadmill so we could “catch up.” You know, since the hour earlier when we’d hung out.

There’s no adult equivalent to that college set up. You grow up, you live  alone or with a romantic partner or roommate, but the days of eight girls sharing one home? Those are over. Unless you’re in a brothel.

And in all that time together, you make memories. It’s inevitable. So I spent a good majority of this weekend reminiscing. We laughed about awkward date stories (mine included), embarrassing moments, and, I must admit, there was some toilet humor in there too. And by some, I mean a lot.

In looking back at the weekend, and at old friends versus new, it’s become clear that time with the oldies is often about strolling down memory lane. Of course we talk about our current lives and what we hope for the future, but even those conversations are rooted in a shared history. With new friends, even after a year, there’s still so much getting to know each other. And the learning curve is higher, because we don’t live together and we’ll never spend the 24/7 time together that college friends do.

One isn’t necessarily better than the other. I cherish time with my college BFFs more than anything in the world. It’s so comfortable, being with people who know you so completely and will always, always, laugh with you. But I adore my new friends, too. They’re different, and it seems I’m lucky, finally, to have both.

Do you get nostalgic about old friend reunions? If you had to, would you choose old friends or new? (Remember my friend, who made the case for new friends being better than old ones?)

6 Comments

Filed under The Search

6 responses to “A Case of Nostalgia

  1. That’s the conclusion my friends and I came to when I was lamenting not being close to anyone in grad school and that I look forward to seeing my college-BFFs so much more than I do going back up for grad school year two. My college friends have been there through it all. They’ve pried the wine bottle away at six AM (oh that day), taken me to doctors appointments, seen exam week breakdowns, and just overall been there. It’s completely different than the friends I’ll make now.

  2. Katie

    I’m definitely one of those people that still — despite being happily married and in a great place in my life — CANNOT get over the fact that college it over. When I’m with my college friends I am in my element. I feel far more like myself than with anyone else I’ve become close to since graduating (besides my husband, of course). There’s just something about those relationships that really make you feel complete. Sometimes I think I would give anything to be back in the dorms, staying up to the wee hours of the night doing nothing with my friends and roommates, and just living up the freedom of being a college student. Then I realize what I have now and I pinch myself to get back to reality. I truly cherish the ease and comfort I feel when my college friends and I get together. Just having gone through that important transitional period of life together and knowing so much about each other makes those relationships incomparable to the ones created later on in life.

  3. This is the old apples/oranges conundrum. The type of relationship I had with my college friends would never work in my life today as a grown woman. However, those were the most intense, passionate, intimate, joyous, adventurous, secretive, funny times of my life with any friends ever. My group of high school friends almost equal it, but we didn’t live together 24/7 and share every waking minute together.
    At the U of Miami we shared a suite of 4 with 2 roommates sharing rooms connected by a bathroom between them not accessed by anyone else. That, in itself, caused for riotous moments. Someone always forgot to unlock the other bathroom door and went out for the evening and the bathroom would be unattainable to one of the bedrooms. Always fun when getting ready for dates. Ergo, the decision to use a “knock” system.
    Recently, one of my suite mates visited and we picked up right where we left off joking about how she never returned a madras shift she “borrowed” but kept because it looked better on her. It did.
    No friend now can ever mirror the insane closeness I shared with my sorority sisters and roommates from college.
    But, my friends now, those who attended my wedding and have shared my adult experiences, never knew my father, but have shared my mother’s death. They know me as a wife. A person with matching plates and silverware. Someone who doesn’t just throw chips in a bowl for refreshments.
    There is something equally magical in both. But, I think, the friends I have made in maturity might have not seen through the silliness and high drama of the girl the friends who loved that girl did. And vice versa.

  4. Renee

    I feel much more at ease with friends I made in my graduate program than I do many of my high school and college friends. We’re all working in the same field with similar career goals- a commonality I do not have with my “old” friends. Like most jobs, mine requires a long, annoying explanation of what I do. With old friends, I have only a vague idea of what they do (and vice versa). Since many of our major life choices were motivated by careers, and most conversations I have with my friends (new and old) revolve around work, it is easier for me to feel connected to people who are in the same field. This is especially true when anyone needs to blow off steam- it’s hard to be that instant support a friend needs when I don’t fully understand what is frustrating them. This is not to say that I do not love them, or I am not there for them, but in terms of feeling like myself or at ease, it is easier for me to get there with my new friends than my old ones.

    Similarly, with “old” high school and college friends, our activities shaped our relationships in a lot of ways; and there are many activities we no longer have interest in. Many nights were spent hanging out at the mall, or driving around aimlessly, or sitting at a diner til sunrise, sitting around and watching TV simply for the sake of not being at home, etc. These are all priceless, treasured memories, but what is fun and cool for a 16 year old is unlikely to appeal to a married 28 year old. As an adult, there are many times when I simply don’t know what to do with old friends when they visit, since most of the things we used to do no longer options (driving around- have you SEEN gas prices?), or not appropriate (I like TV as much as the next person, but if someone flew across country to hang out with me, I feel a responsibility to show them a better time). The path back to mutual comfort and ease is usually paved with anecdotes about old times. Again, I value my oldest friends very much, but in terms of immediate ease and understanding, my newer friends feel much closer.

  5. Right now I would go with the old friends thing, however , I really can see the lure of new friends since they would fit easier into my current life and be available for a quick chat over coffee.

  6. Pingback: The Solo Traveler | MWF Seeking BFF

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