Make new friends, but keep the old…
We are Homeward Bound and Technologically Challenged, which is to say the wireless has been spotty at my friend’s house the past two days.
On Sunday night, The Princess and I had our much-anticipated blogger meet-up with the ReverendMother family, including her husband, R, and her daughter, C. We navigated the complex routes of the extended suburbs of an unspecified urban area and found our way to an impressive and up-to-date shopping/living/eating sort of thing that I don’t know how to describe except to say that malls are apparently now modeled on some sort of village concept. The buildings and surroundings were very attractive, but the entire package made me feel like some sort of hick who just doesn’t know what’s happening in the “real” world.
But what you really want to know is what RM is like, right?
What you read is really what you get. She is bright, strong, appealing, inquisitive and reflective. She is also gracious, open and warm. R was incredibly patient with our shop talk, and so was C! C is adorable, beautiful, charming, delightful, engaging–wow, this alphabet thing is addictive, isn’t it? But the child really lives up to her press.
Nearly two-and-a-half hours sped by in their company. I hope this is the first of many such meetings.
I’ve also had the chance to spend time with an old friend, and tonight we had dinner with another college pal. We’re in our mid-forties now, talking about the 25th college reunion that is only two years away, laughing about how College Friend’s oldest daughter used CF’s cellphone to send a text message to her dad at work; he knew what it was but not how to respond to it!
It’s odd. My career is still so new, and my marriage is also new, and when I am at home I feel the whole world lies before me. But in these places, with these old friends, I realize how much has gone by me. We discussed changes in accepted punctuation and laughed ruefully at the idea that we can no longer write “Jesus’ disciples” but must rather write “Jesus’s disciples.” We hates it. We hates it. When did commas go out of fashion, we wondered? And where did twenty years go?
We puzzled about those friends we don’t hear from anymore. We worried about those whose lives are not as rich or fulfilling or safe as ours.
But I look at College Friend and College Pal and I know the hard things they have lived: husbands laid off or let go, child with autism, pregnancies lost, divorce (that one’s mine), young niece killed in car accident, sister dead of cancer. We’ve buried five of our six parents. Life has touched us, left marks on us, some visible, some more subtle. We have all struggled with our weight. We have all worried for our children and at the same time delighted in them.
We’re all church people. That’s the thing that strikes me funniest, because we met in college, that time when we don’t always dock in the familiar places, and so our friends don’t necessarily know what our faith lives mean to us. Some times we don’t know ourselves.
We sat around the table, wives and mothers and writers and sisters. It was different than meeting Reverend Mother, with whom I talked about 100 miles per hour, I fear–there was such a need to cram things in, sort of like a first sermon. (If you’ve ever preached one or heard one, you will know what I mean.) This was more leisurely. Two hours or so spent, with the knowledge that it will be years before such an occasion comes again. It felt wide, but not deep, as I never feel sure how real I can be with them.
What I want in my life is more moments of authenticity. I live for them, for finding them and for opening the way for them. Life is too short not to live that way, to censor ourselves and live carefully, to avoid what is real.
I’m glad to have seen old friends, but, O God! I am thankful for new ones! I am thankful for comrades who think long and worriedly about things that never will be and things that might just happen. I am thankful for intensity and humor and energy. I am thankful that even if I am a bit out of date I am not yet old. I am thankful that there is more light and truth to break forth not just from God’s word but from the story of my life and from all of yours.
A circle is round, it has no end. That’s how long I want to be your friend.