I recently reconnected with an old friend I've known since childhood. Our lives had taken different paths for a bit, and we naturally fell out of sync as often happens to friendships in adulthood. During the time we weren't in contact, this friend was always on my mind, and I knew we'd reconnect when the time was right.
The time was right this past summer, and it was significant that we rekindled our friendship in the summer, as our childhood was full of summertime memories & experiences. Ours was the girl version of the famous Stand by Me quote, "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"
This said, this reconnection has given me a deeper appreciation for friendship in general, and the magical powers of a lifelong friend. Let me start by a bit of background on this particular friend. I met her in 5th grade when I moved to a new neighborhood. She was the only girl in her family and we were the only girls in our neighborhood. I was the youngest in my family and the only kid living at home. It was the perfect formula for a friendship/sisterhood.
Because I believe in cosmic occurrences, I believe that my parents chose that subdivision because, quite simply, we had to meet. Had we moved anywhere else, most likely, we wouldn't have met or become close friends. She rescued me from being the only kid at home; I saved her from her brothers.
The bottom line is our early friendship was so impactful and significant that it created a bond that could literally be recreated on the drop of a dime. Reconnecting with my friend really got me to thinking about friendships, and the magic that exists in friends we've known for our whole lives. While it's hard to define what exactly "it" is about the power of old friends, I believe it boils down to some key elements:
Old friends have had front row seats to all phases of your life. They have seen you (literally) at your worst - big glasses, boy haircut, zits and all. They loved you then, and still love you now that you've discovered contacts and have grown your hair out. They were there, sporting Mork from Ork suspenders (or insert equally cheesy trend) right there beside you, and they looked equally as ridiculous, but neither of you knew any better. So all was good in your world.
Old friends know your family. This is an important one. They understand the dynamics between you and your siblings, your parents, your extended family. In addition, old friends literally saw how you grew up… heck, they've been in your childhood home. They've slept there, and quite possibly eaten dinner there almost as many times as you have. There's much to be said for this understanding and their insights, which can help you analyze problems by considering both who you are now and where you came from. In addition, when you need support if something happens to a family member, there's nothing quite like having that old friend to call on for support, as they are an extension of your family too.
Old friends know your history. All of it. They know what a lunatic you were in middle school. They were there when you were a crazy teenager. They were there for the play by play when your first boyfriend broke up with you. In fact, they went with you on car runs to stalk that old boyfriend. (C'mon, it was the 80's and stalking wasn't creepy then, it was what girls did.) They know the six million ideas you had for a career, the colleges you liked, and the dreams you had for life as an adult.
To put it all together, old friends store all of this knowledge and can bring it out for amazing rounds of belly laughs and fun, or provide a shoulder to cry on and advice to help you deal with life.
Now, while the beauty of an old friend is remarkably powerful, it by no means discredits the equally beautiful power of friendships made in adulthood. Each friendship has its time and place, and enriches our lives in unique ways. But, the nice thing about an old friend is that we've already laid down the groundwork that transcends the years, making time and place irrelevant. The bond can be tapped into when we're 30, 40, 60 or 100, which can be particularly helpful in times we find ourselves in need of someone who understands… asap.
The moral of this story? Call that old friend that's been on your mind. She's on your mind for a reason, and the Universe has this marvelous way of connecting us just when we need it the most.