Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Friends and Strangers

the park bench outside of my office.
a nice place for a conversation between two strangers

The other night, I had dinner with one of my oldest and dearest friends who was in town for a training session. We hadn't talked in a long while............not one of those rambling random updates that cover a gazillion topics......and it felt wonderful to reconnect. More importantly it was great to know that even though so much time had melted away when we weren't in touch at all because of busy lives and little children and geographical distances etc, we had not lost touch with the kinship we had for one another. It was still there, as strong as it always had been and if it hadn't been for closing time at the restaurant and individual commitments, I think we'd still be sitting there yapping away sipping on wine.

We met as strangers during orientation week of first year university.........it was a natural gravitation.......one that has no explanation. We simply gelled right away. Call it chemistry. Call it kismet. It was fate that somehow Heather and I would find ourselves as members of a small group of residents who shared a wing of a girls dormitory. Though we are different in many ways, our personalities, temperments and interests complimented one another, so much so that we travelled through Europe backpacking together, and then stood up for one another at our subsequent weddings.

Life events solidify friendships. But there is more to it than that because there are many people in our lives whom we shared milestones with, who were there when we experience the "firsts." There are some whom you worked with everyday for years in close quarters, or whom you spent time with sharing deep stuff with while working on a project. There are some you grew up with........went to school with every single day, and yet if you were to see them now, it would be like meeting a stranger. Geez.........there are some whom you were intimate with and yet they would be like one of the hundreds of unfamiliar faces you pass by in the course of a day. The connect has disappeared.

Why is that? Why do some relationships from our past never cross over to the present when you have a history together, while others whom you may not have seen or talked to in 20 years have not wilted on the vine whatsoever? It's a bizarre feeling to meet someone you spent hours snogging with years ago and you might as well be starring at a total stranger.

We move on. WE are always evolving and transforming............learning and growing........choosing new ventures, new interests, new avenues. So has every single person on the planet. What's more, we have accumulated life's scars and battle wounds too, which leave us possibly with new perspectives. We may have the same inherent personality underneath, but we have life experiences which have added to the texture and colours of our personal tapestry. So have they.

So some of those people in our past...........and I would hazard to guess that the majority of them......have evolved into strangers. We have lost the common threads.

I think this is what makes an old friendship...........one that may not have been as nutured as it should have along the way.........such a gift when the magic is still there. Though much of our conversation was on "catch up" news, we also stepped right into the present and beyond. That's the difference isn't it. We remain distantly estranged with old friends whom we can only touch on the past with. WE thrive and grow with old friends if there is the spark to chime on about the here and now, about dreams and aspirations............. and the recognition that our roots are healthy, our interest in one another's opinions and ideas is still alive and well, and that we are open to embracing each other's nicks from life.

Written especially for Writer's Island, whose prompt this week is The Stranger.......

Check out more stranger and fascinating ideas here.......


gautami tripathy said...

"WE thrive and grow with old friends if there is the spark to chime on about the here and now, about dreams and aspirations.."

I totally agree. Great thinking post.

Becca said...

What a lovely reflection on the nature of friendship and the way it develops and grows.

I completely agree with the concept of needing to move forward into the future with friendships. I can see how the failure to do so has altered some of my own friendships through the years.

Very thoughtful post :)

paisley said...

strangers come and go ,,, but kindred spirits burn forever.....

Gypsy said...

I loved this Dana. I have a friend like that and every time we see each other, through good times and bad, the chemistry is always there. It's unexplainable, mysterious and just.....magic!

paris parfait said...

Absolutely true, Dana. In April, a friend from college was visiting - it'd been 20 years since we'd seen each other, but we picked up the threads of our friendship as though it was last week. Although we are very very different, we're still good friends and I'm sure will remain so all our lives. Lovely writing and thanks for posting the gorgeous photo of the lovely fall leaves - they're not nearly so glorious here!

Karina said...

This is so true. Not too long ago I posted something with similar sentiment after a dinner with two college friends. Some friendships just have a way of BEING without any effort needed. They are special that way.

Shaz said...

I love this its funny how I was talking about it with an old friend the other day. We discussed what we would of been with out each other and also the people who impacted our lives that we dont see any more.
I love all my friends new and old ;)

Tori said...

I had lunch with my dearest old friend from afar just this past friday. Good friends are priceless. Truly.
And by the way, my sisters name is Heather.
Thinking of you and wishing I could have a conversation on that bench with you.

Marja said...

That's exactly how it is. A really good friend is like a diamond. Rare and a big treasure. Something to hold on too. I have one such friend. Unfortunitely she lives in Holland. On the phone time seems to disappear eventhough I don't like the phone. When she was on a trip too Australie, she came all the way to NZ for a weekend catchup.

Awareness said...

gautami. thank you. I really waffled about what I wanted to write on this topic.....and am glad I went in this direction.

becca...thank you. I agree that there are some whom if I had made a more concerted effort to stay connected to I would've been able to continue with the friendship, but I do believe that we have people our lives who "walk with us a mile....and then due to circumstances only stay a while...." and we have no control over this. We grow apart and move on.......and that's fine too.

Tara....there's nothing like reuniting with a kindred who knows you from WAAAAY back. Though I have been living in this town now for over 20 years and have friends here whom I consider as close as family....we have a strong history....theres a difference when one meets up with a kindred again who was there during those early adulthood times.

Shaz..........me too.......old and new ....... :)

Tori. Priceless is right! Last year, I went to a Camp reunion where I met up with a dozen or so old dear friends whom I hadn't seen OR had been in touch with in 20 years. My dearest friend named Duff (camp name, not named after Homer's beer) and I had just found one another via email a month prior to the reunion. Many many life experiences we had shared both at camp and in the city. We had also spent a memorable summer living in Victoria BC together where she helped me mend a very broken heart. Now I live on the east coast and she lives on the west coast. we have yet to meet each other's kiddies... but it will happen one day.
Anyways.......I walked into the hotel lobby on the Friday afternoon for a weekend of fun.....nervous and excited all at the same time. Of the 200 that were attending......the VERY first voice I hear calling me name was Miss Duff!! She was having problems at the reception with her room......Before I knew it, I was sorting out her problems LIKE OLD TIMES...it was very funny......not even thinking that it had been 23 years since these roles had played out. After that, we hugged and cried and laughed and then rushed off to our adjoining rooms to arrange a BIG welcoming party for the rest! I can't remember sleeping for two days. It was magical.

ps. you can meet me at this bench ANY time. If you sit there and look over, you can see my office window.....it's the one with the butterfly on it. :) Tap once and I'll be out to chat!!

marja, that's amazing that your friend flew from Aus. to NZ for a weekend. I would think that living so far away from Holland, is the most difficult when you think of your old friends and family. Thank goodness for internet and email..... though it isn't the same.

tumblewords said...

Nice writing and lots of good thoughts and insights. My best friend passed away nearly 4 years ago, and I'm still tempted to phone her - friends are so valuable!