I'm a lucky person. Really, really lucky. Good health, healthy children with good jobs, enough money. But one of the things I appreciate the most among all these blessings is good friends. The mark of a wonderful friend, for me, is that you can be apart for long periods and when you get back together you just mesh. I have a group of women with whom I go all the way back to public school. I have (and my husband and I have) couples we have known since we were undergraduates. We go on occasional jaunts as a group and have a wonderful time. Long distance friends, but you know they are there.
Today I had lunch with such a friend. When I try and figure it out, I think it has been at least four years since I've seen her - she and her husband have been working abroad. We met in the parking lot of the lunch place, started talking as we walked in, and kept right at it for two hours, first the catching up and then just a splendid conversation. The kids, the grand kids (we both forgot to bring a picture), trashing our husbands, clothes, jobs ....... and what I enjoy so much about this friend, the philosophy of living well and happily. On a dull, end of October day, it is sunshine to be with her.
Next week I am planning to go to the city to see another long distance friend who will be there for a few days' holiday, a former house mate from university. It will be a meeting with the same kind of joy. We have a horrible joke left over from being undergraduates that still makes us laugh. We have grandchildren growing up fast. We have white hair and wrinkles and squeaky knees and it all matters not one bit. As soon as we get together, years and wrinkles vanish.
One of the most miserable times in my life was watching my aunt, my father's older sister, descend into a dementia where she lost track of time. When she was in her eighties and still active and agile of mind and body, she moved from my childhood home town of Windsor up here to eastern Ontario to be with my father. She said, sadly, that her friends were mostly all sick or dead. She needed company and support and she made new friends here and loved her new life. But ten years later when the dementia hit, all she wanted was to go back home and see her friends, 'the girls' as she called them. When I would go to the nursing home we had had to put her in, I would find her packing, sometimes with her hat and coat on, ready for me to take her home. It was sad.
When you are growing up and as a young adult, friends are probably the most important element of your life. If you get married, you have to integrate your and your spouse's social circles. Then you have kids yourself and a demanding job and get involved with sports or a hobby and your socializing tends to be inside that range. If you don't marry, a network of friends remains very important and grows. In my experience, it becomes harder to make new friends the farther along in life you are. Or it used to be. One of the things I value most about the blogging world is the virtual friends I have made here. Although I have grandpa bloggers and grandma bloggers that I visit regularly, most of the online world where I hang out is peopled with women the age of my daughters, women raising kids and working and going to school and sometimes all three at once. Even though we might never meet over lunch and giggle, this world has become very important for me.
The older you get, in my experience, the faster things change. The 'mommyblogger' network I was enmeshed in in 2007 has mutated, the way people blog has changed a lot as new apps and software allow more photos, instaposts and other embellishments. There are a lot more formal networks, commercial loaded blogs and some quite pernicious rating sites to pull writers attention in specific ways. A lot of the bloggers whom I first connected with have left, or changed their focus. It's my great and good luck that the people I feel the most connected with are still around in some form or another.
And in this world, it's easy to make new friends.