Thursday, January 3, 2013


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A great thing about the holidays that just passed was the opportunity to spend a little time with two of my closest friends.  The three of us grew up together, but eventually we moved all over the country, so while we keep in touch we rarely get to actually see each other.  In fact, getting the three of us together in one place at the same time is an extremely rare occurrence, that it actually happened twice this year is an absolute miracle.

As I was looking forward to this special time, I started to think about how amazing it is that our friendship has lasted so long.  It might not be so impressive if we had all stayed in the same town, but maintaining such a special bond from three totally separate places in the country is somewhat miraculous.  So how have we been so lucky?  I mean we don't live anywhere close to one another, we actually don't talk on the phone that frequently, email is our primary form of communication these days; but every time we see each other or do get on the phone together it feels like no time has passed at all, we just easily pick up right where we left off.

Having known each other for so long we have obviously been through a lot together.  We weathered our awkward puberty and teenage years together, I know I would not have survived without them by my side.  We have been through boyfriends and break-ups, dreams coming true and dreams crashing down, family tragedies (I'll never forget when one of these ladies showed up to my grandmother's wake without me ever asking), basically we've been together through our highest highs and our lowest lows.

Meeting and becoming friends so early in life meant we were at a time in our lives where we had a lot of trust for the world and the people in it.  We hadn't yet developed the habits of holding back or self censoring.  We were at the ages when you just desperately want to find people similar to you who are willing to listen and hold your secrets, and so we were incredibly open with each other.  We confessed our deepest secrets to each other, crushes, hopes, fears, anything we thought or felt.  Granted things were not always perfect.  I must admit that I was not always the best friend, I made many mistakes, but these ladies were always forgiving and never shut me out.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have stood with each of them on their wedding days, and to have had them both right there with me for mine.  I am possibly more excited for the future when their families grow than I am for when mine does.  Sadly, though, friendships like ours don't just happen everyday.  As you get older it seems to get harder and harder to make new friends with bonds as deep as these, but why?

When I moved to the DC area almost 8 years ago I was confronted, for the first time in my life, with a situation where I truly did not know anyone.  For the first time since I was a child I needed to try and make new friends without a support system of other friends immediately around me.  This proved difficult in the begining, because I didn't know how to open up to new people.  I had lived enough life to be slightly jaded and untrusting so I guarded myself.  One day though, a girl from one of my classes could tell I was having a horrible day, she cornered me and told me to just spit it all out.  That was the moment I realized how lonely I was, and how desperately I needed someone close by that I could talk to.  I am happy to say that she is now a close friend, and I have never forgotten that day. 

Over time I have managed to find a small collection of other people I feel I can consider good friends.  Are these newer friendships at the same level as my two childhood friends?  No, not yet anyway. To be fair, though, these new friendships are only a few years old; the childhood ones have at least twenty years on these new ones.  I do hope that these newer friendships will eventually reach that same level of closeness though.  In order to accomplish this I realize that I will have to be as open with these women as I was when I was younger.  Showing that you trust someone with your innermost thoughts and feelings will help that person feel comfortable trusting you with theirs.  A deep friendship though, also requires a willingness to listen to the other person when they need to talk.  It's great to open the door by putting yourself out there first and showing that you want to be close, but it can't be all about you, you must be accepting when the other person is ready to share.  The give and take is what makes a frienship valuable.  Additionally, you have to be willing to be there for them through both the good and the bad.  There is truly no feeling better than the pure joy for a friend when her heart is full of happiness, and there is also no feeling worse than helplessness when a friend is grieving.  It is these hard times that present the real test of a friendship.  Will you cry tears of sadness along with with her, will you be willing to drop whatever you are doing to rush to her side, will you help take care of her when she can't take care of herself?  These are the acts someone remembers, these are the times that will propel a friendship to a higher level.

Finding a meaningful friendship is a lot like falling in love.  You have to be open and willing to accept the experience.  You have to put yourself out there setting aside all fears of rejection, and there is every possibility that a person you want to build a friendship with will reject your attempts.  You also have to be patient.  Building a long lasting, deep level friendship takes time, but it is well worth the effort in the end.  I know that I am beyond lucky to have not only two friendships that have lasted from childhood on, but to also have several newer friendships that I believe will grow to be just as special and close over time.

Do you any of you have childhood friendships you've managed to keep close?  Did any of meet a best friend later in life?

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