Old Friends Someday

old Friends

Sometimes I wonder who I am going to be friends with when I am old. Who will be my “old friends?” I really love connecting with the “old friends” I have right now and I want more “old friends” when I am old.

Recently, a friend I have known for almost my whole life, came to stay with me for a couple of days. She was one of my mother’s best friends and she was one of the best mothers I have ever had. I spent as much time in her house as my own, probably more.

She is an “old friend” who has lived many years, but is not old yet, because she is still as bright and insightful and spirited as she has ever been. We talked for hours – literally hours nonstop. Not only is she kind, wise and thoughtful, but she is one of the few people in the world who holds a very big chunk of my history. This is very valuable to me too. It was harder than I expected to say goodbye at the end of her visit.

It turns out that my life is made up of many chapters of one book, each more separate from each other than I would like them to be, but necessary for my whole story to make sense. There are more chapters than I can even remember.

Growing up. Church group. High School. College. Santa Monica. Young adult. Oregon. Young wife. Homeowner. Nike. Washington, DC. Married again. Ralph Lauren. Young mom. North Carolina. MBA spouse. More babies. New York City. 9/11. New Jersey. Needham. At-home mom. Divorce. Single mom.  Working mom. Mom of teens. Mom working hard.

The friends I have from the chapters of my life know we can’t be in close touch all of the time, but I hope they know that I am here for them if they need me. I have needed them and they have always been there for me. We stay friends because we are able to pick up our friendship like no time has gone by, whenever we have the chance. No guilt. No obligation. No judgment. Only freedom to be ourselves because we have known each other for a long, long time. We hold memories of our time together for each other. If it were not for my “old friends,” I swear I would have no memories at all. I am pretty sure raising three children has made me lose brain cells.

I am jealous of people who have grown up, gone to college, been married and raised a family in the same place. Or even done a handful of those things in the same place. It seems like those people must have some kind of escrow of shared memories built up with their “old friends” (who are also their current friends) that can be drawn upon during busier times.

I would like to have “old friends” from this chapter of my life, but I worry that I am so busy at this stage, that I am not able to invest the time needed to create the memories that lead to old friendships. The nature of my current chapter is sort of solitary – busy with kids and working a lot. This might shape up to be a really boring chapter of my story. It all sort of melts together in my mind.

When I think about my life beyond this chapter, I see living in a very cool house in a location friends will want to visit. The beach would be great, but realistically, I will be lucky if I get to live on a lake. The house is set up to be low maintenance and easy for entertaining. I will have very comfortable accommodations for visitors. Cotton sheets, fluffy comforters, big fireplace. I imagine lots of relaxed evenings and big breakfasts with lots of visiting friends.

Then I wonder who will be the “old friends” who visit me? I am not putting as much time into my current friendships as I would like to and my “old friends” feel farther and farther away. The insecure part of me wonders if maybe everyone else is making better friends with other people. The reality is that I have to work hard now. My kids need me now. My patient beau has to fit in between everything else. I am doing as much as I can.

In this chapter of my life, friends are an indulgence I get to enjoy every so often. I hope that the occasional walk, the quick coffee, and the fact that we are all living a similar chapter in separate ways is enough to get us through this busy time without losing each other. I hope I am not the only one feeling pulled in so many directions. I hope that I will have a lot of “old friends” someday when I am old.

How do you fit time with friends into your busy life?

17 Comments

  1. Eve Reply

    Like reading my own story! I’ve been feeling so bad lately about not getting in touch with old friends as much as I would like to; I wish I would have done things differently so we could have stayed in one place too especially after I saw a house with the kids now grown, that still had their heights etched into a wall each year – memories! I worry that I don’t have a strong friend base now that my kids are preparing to leave for college. I try – Skype, weekend calls, occasional Facebook ‘likes’ and e-mails to keep in touch with my good friends from way back.

    As for the house by the beach, I’v thought about that too – if I’m lucky my daughter says she get me a cottage by the sea (better be nice to her now!) As for my son, he asked if I could not be too close to him. That’s gratitude for you!

    I picture myself relaxed there, watching the waves and sipping some wine at dusk. Ah, dreams! Cheers!

    • annie kip Reply

      Oh Eve – that is a great image! It is so hard to figure everything out, make friendships, and be a good mom too. It sounds like you are on the cusp of a huge transition with college looming. It must be hard to hear that from your son, but I would guess that it is just his need for space to grow more speaking. Maybe I will change my mind on this, but I also think that kids should take us for granted to a certain degree – but always speak respectfully – because it means they are very secure in our love for them. Still, I always worry that my kids are not grateful enough!

  2. Susan Reply

    I am a firm believer that with friends (as with a lot of other things), it’s not the quantity of time you spend, but the quality of time. Real friends understand busy lives and hectic schedules. True friends realize that we all make mistakes and put forgiveness ahead of judgment.

    Now see Annie, you’ve gone ahead and made shallow me seem deep! ;)

    • annie kip Reply

      Oh Susan, I agree and am so glad you who get this! Whether you consider yourself deep or not, I love hearing what you have to say! Truth can be very plain and simple.

  3. Lynn Bowers Reply

    Great post Annie that really resonated with me as I just returned from a girls trip with my high school friends. We have known each other for 35+ years but are spread out all over the country now. I have been thinking a lot about friendship too and agree, that at this stage of life, it is hard to find the time to spend with friends when life is so busy.

    • annie kip Reply

      That sounds great, Lynn! I am jealous! It takes a lot of effort to pull something like that together, but it is worth it. Otherwise, it is easy for years to slip by.

  4. John Capalbo Reply

    Annie…I prefer not to be your old friend. Would you settle for me being your young friend for a long time?

    • annie kip Reply

      that sounds great! can’t believe what a long time it has been!!!!

  5. Leslie Reply

    Hi Annie,

    thanks for writing this… lots to think about. First — yes, when we are working, and are parents, (and perhaps have aging parents also) — we don’t have a lot of time for friends… old or new. I like the way you described it, as not having the time to invest in making the memories that develop into a sustained friendship. (or however you said it, it was nicely put). It is possible that some of these friends around you now, the quick coffees, may be having the same thoughts you are… and when you have time to spend with friends, some of them may be there with the hot coffee and time for longer walks, or building sustained memories. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

    Also, just to add a different time perspective onto your chronology: I’ve been parenting CONTINUOUSLY for 31 years…and my baby is 15, so a few more to go. I’ve loved this “parent karma” — though I didn’t exactly plan it this way — but I felt a little sad reading your post, thinking of my 31 YEARS of working, parenting, being “busy”.

    Sometimes life gives us a second chance when we are “too busy” for a new friend. That’s what happened to Our Mutual Friend, Ingrid and me. (geez, you can tell I’m a bit tired, I actually typed “Ingrid and I!!” ) She reached out to me for ordinary professional networking when she was new in town and I was stressed out, too busy, and basically blew her off. We met again YEARS later, at an event for our mutual profession, and this time became friends. We missed years of becoming “old friends” — but we did get another chance.

    And, here’s another angle, which you didn’t mention: absolutely crucial (according to anecdote and aging researchers (ha)) — is developing friendships with people of all ages, as we age. The other generations teach us, offer us history or new perspectives — and, most bluntly, our age-peer friends will begin to die. Hey, you are younger than I am, so we would count as differently aged friends!

    Keep on thinking, and living, and writing..

    Smiling as I think of you and your worms, heroes of the first post I read here,

    Leslie

    • annie kip Reply

      thanks so much for your thoughts, Leslie! You should write a blog!!! The only reason I think of it as “busy” with kids, is that it all sort of blends together in a way that I don’t really like. I wish it were less busy so I could savor it more, but I know this is the nature of this time in our lives. And I concur that friendships with friends of all ages are a very cool benefit of being this in-between age. I love hanging out wiht my daughters friends and hearing what they have to say and how they see the world – as well as hanging out with the friends I mentioned in the post. Insights and wisdom and friendship can all come in different aged packages!

  6. Deb White Reply

    I have not made time for friends, myself or my marriage in quite a while … too long of a while! I often think about who I will my old friends are and YOU are definitely one of the fabulous few. I think it’s also harder to make friends as we grow older. Or maybe I’m again, just not making the time to do so. It’s also hard to be around people with very different beliefs from me, coming from liberal California and living in the rigid South. Makes me sad, too. I cherish my old friendships and do have the ability to pick up with each one of my old friends at any given time (as long as we can get a hold of each other!) and start again just where we left off (or thereabouts!). I think this is the perfect time of year for such thoughts … thanks for bringing them to the forefront of my mind. I will always cherish my friendship with you, Annie! xoxoxoxox

    • annie kip Reply

      Oh gal, I am so glad I am on your list! You are on mine for sure! I am so glad we have been friends for so long and we know things about each other that no one else does! It is so hard to be away from people who know us well. I really miss running into people I know. I wish we lived closer!!!

      • Deb Reply

        Ditto!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Rita@thissortaoldlife Reply

    So much of this post resonates for me. I’m also envious of those who have a long history in one place, and lives that seem all of one seamless piece.

    Then I remember that I’m just not that kind of person. That if I had lived that kind of life, I wouldn’t be who I am now. I’d likely be bored and bitter and resentful. And drink way too much. :-)

    I know the fears you have about friendship. I think this is just the stage we’re now in. I’m guessing you might be making friendships that you don’t even realize will turn into old ones. It can be hard to see where we are when we’re there, you know?

    http://www.thissortaoldlife.com

    • annie kip Reply

      Me too! I know I would be restless in one place for my whole life, but I do envy that escrow people get from living in the same place. I do hope that the friendships I make now – and even the cyber-friendships like ours!!! – will be lasting!

  8. Sara Tetreault Reply

    Annie, love this! I’ll be one of your “old friends” (dare I say I am already?) and will visit you no matter where you live!

    http://gogingham.com

    • annie kip Reply

      Oh yes – you are my friend of old! I am so glad we have been able to keep connected in so many ways!!!!

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