Some people hoard stuff. Me, I’m more of a hoarder of friends. I love making new friends and I like keeping my friends for a long, long time. So I have a lot of them. Some old, some new…and some forever. I’d never really given much thought to the fact that I’m still friends with people that I’ve known for so many years and it wasn’t until recently that I realized this is pretty uncommon. Who knew? I figured that everyone had a group of, or at least a few, old friends. The kind that have known you forever and they still like you. Old friends are the very best kind, and the older the friendship the better.
If you know me, I’m sure you’ve heard me start a story with “I have this group of friends from middle school that…”. I’m not really sure why I preface everything I say about these ladies with that, but I do. My newer friends don’t get that, I might say “My friend so and so…”, but this particular group gets special acknowledgment. I guess they deserve it after knowing me for a practical lifetime and still putting up with me. We don’t get together nearly often enough, but our friendship is precious to me. Not only did I grow up with them, but now I get to see their families grow too.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a collection of old friends, you’ll know these things to be true:
With old friends, there is no need to pretend that you are anything more than what you are. They’ve seen you at your worst and they’re still around. And while you may be embarrassed if other people see old photos of you, you never have to worry about old friends, because they were there and saw your awkwardness first hand.
Old friends love you for who you are…but also for who you were and who you’ll become. There is no judgement in old friendships. Old friends accept who you are today and understand how far you’ve come from where you started. They’re also your biggest cheerleaders, always rooting for you to be even better in the future, knowing that they’ll still be around to witness everything great that you’ll become.
The best conversations happen with old friends. When you have a shared history there is never a lull in conversation because someone will always have a “Remember the time when…” story. Reminiscing is just plain fun and with old friends, a story is just as funny the hundredth time as it was when it first happened.
Old friends can say things to you that nobody else can. Trust is built over time, so an old friendship has more trust than even most marriages (unless of course you married your high school sweetheart, which many of my old friends did:). Because of this high level of trust, your friends can say things to you that would be downright hurtful coming from anybody else, but when it comes from them you know that it’s being said out of love.
You laugh harder, longer and far more often with old friends. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it perfectly, “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” And being stupid with them is always hilarious for you and perhaps a bit obnoxious to those who have to witness your reunions.
It’s easy to be around old friends. Getting together with old friends is like going home. It’s familiar and comfortable and you don’t do it often enough because life gets in the way, but when you get there you just don’t want to leave. You can go forever without talking but when you get together it’s like no time has passed at all.
The older I get the more I realize that true friendships, the kind that withstand the test of time, are hard to come by. And with age, I’m growing increasingly grateful for the many people that I feel blessed to call my “old friends.”