My husband is currently on Martha Vineyard for his annual men’s week escape. He’s been going to “the Vineyard,” as folks up this way call it, since he was a teenager. It is one of those experiences that we don’t share. I’ve been to the Vineyard three times and it has not yet resonated with me.
His annual trip got me to thinking about the nature of friendships. I admire the fact that he has long-term friendships. He is regularly in touch with people who he went to nursery, elementary and high school with. I know this is largely due to the fact that he lives and has always lived in his home town but I don’t think that is the only reason. He just tends to have long-term relationships and is still deeply friendly with a colleague that he taught with for 20-some years.
I, on the other hand, have serial friendships. It has been my habit to have a new best friend every ten years or so, as my work and neighborhood and life circumstances change. Aside from my family, I don’t have an active friendship with anyone who knew me from my childhood or high school or my college years.
My longest friendship now is with a friend who has known me since my early 20s when I was pregnant with my daughter. She and I loss touch for about a decade and have reconnected in the past 8 or so years.
My daughter is like my husband, she has long-term friendships from childhood that she values and nurtures. She is deeply wounded when friends from early childhood become estranged; me, not so much. I expect friendships to change and recede as people move to different cities, focus on work, careers, or faith and other pursuits. My philosophy is that I have you while I have you be it short-term or longer-term. I am passionately involved and enamored with my friends while I have them and I detach fairly easily when the friendship time is over. There’s always new people to meet on the horizon and I am often content in solitude with music and books to sustain me.
Still, I do recognize that there is a deficit in my life from not having even one friend who knows me from when I was a girl. I left my hometown after high school and have not really been back. My longest friendship for many years was with a friend who knew me from my 11th grade year. The toll of so many years apart and twists and turns in our lives broke our bonds. Our contact is now one-sided in the birthday and holiday greetings I send but to which she has not responded in the past few years. I don’t know why and she’s not telling. Oh, well.
Recently a few of my former “bestest” friends have passed through this life or are facing serious health challenges. I find myself examining why our friendships disappeared. Most often there was no disagreement or pronouncement, they just petered out as our lives changed, we loss common ground, and/or our communication withered.
My sister never loses friends except to death. No matter how dramatic their disagreements and disappointments, she holds on to friendships. My husband doesn’t seem to lose friends either. I truly admire this trait in them. I watch television programs and read articles about long-term friends who vacation together every year or have other regular rituals that they hold dear. This is a thing of wonder to me. How do they manage to do it?
I enjoy meeting new people and learning their ways. I have been writing my love letters to friends that I admire. And I have come to accept that this is the way it is for me as I attend more mindfully to the deep friendships I do have.