There are so many stages in life that bring you friendships; What is the saying…? There are friends for a reason, and friends for a season…
We make friends throughout our school years; There are those first friends, and first sleep overs, and those we played with outside our homes; I am not from the “playdate” generation, and spent most of my time in school and studying dance, so that’s where the bulk of my alliances came from. Of course these friendships changed as did my level of education, expertise, and my extra-curricular activities. My family belonged to a swim club with several families, and i went to day camp there, but eventually moved onto sleepaway camp where I made friendships like no others. There’s something about camp friends, but I’ll address that interplanetary experience at another time. I attended Hebrew school three times per week, and once our tiny congregation went bankrupt, those relationships were affected, especially once we joined a congregation relatively far from home, and though a couple of us shared the common bond of “family expectations”, they had their own relationships with those they attended school with, and there was never anyone close enough to home to hang out with. I joined the chorus in middle school, and formed some wonderful friendships. Blending harmonies and rehearsing for concerts with those with the same love of music was fabulous, and gave me something more local and in addition to the friends that danced with me. There’s an inborn competitiveness amongst dancers, and though we share the same love, we compare ourselves in many ways. I didn’t realize at the time how this would be the start of my journey in musical theatre, performing, and working professionally in the arts, which might be the closest thing to being an additional (and sometimes even a replacement) family.
Then came High School…and Sing…and Musicals…and Dance Team…and drama…and cheerleading…and still dance. I spent more time at my school, wearing purple, of course (go pirates!) than I spent anywhere else or with anyone else, day after day, late into the evenings, and often on weekends. I studied French, and made alliances with a few of those students, as I guess knowing a language will do (plus, our instructor of many years, passed away prior to our graduation, and though she was strict, she had been an amazing educator). I was also in a specialty science program, and homeroom, because of the program, and struggled to keep my A average, but didn’t realize how many others were having difficulty in that program as well until MUCH later on in life. However, while others were glad to move on to the next chapters of their lives, I was devastated to leave.
I was accepted into college by early decision, so I knew early on where I would be going. I was concerned that I may’ve decided too quickly as my friends’ acceptances came in, month after month, and they claimed that I couldn’t relate to their stress, while I panicked that I had put all of my eggs into one basket. The end of the year activities were momentous for me, and I prayed to hold onto those friendships and memories, and be able to spend time with those I experienced those things with, on a continuous basis. But, we all know, of course, what happens when you all head off into different directions, and those relationships suffered, though I tried desperately to hang on. Distance took over, as did life, and other interests…some were completely out of touch, both, emotionally and geographically, which upset me greatly, some were working full time, some got married right out of school, and one even had a baby right away, which was soooo far from my world. I got caught up in a double major, a minor, performing, auditioning, papers, exams, founding a sorority, a serious relationship, a bad break up, and building a career and, eventually, a life.
I ended up unintentionally taking what is now referred to as a gap year, when I was wait listed for law school, and began working for a law firm as a paralegal on a high security floor, where no one spoke to each other, and then, eventually as a trial prep assistant in the court system, where confidentiality reigned again, but I enjoyed trying to make a difference and shared that with my coworkers. I then attended graduate school, while working full-time, and commuted back and forth, including clinical rotations to all hours of the night, and it wasn’t until I took my last two classes that I made a connection to two other grad students. One of them, I have since lost touch with over the years, but I was placed into a project with these two lovely ladies, and though our lives were very different, our values were not. I am happy to say that I am still in touch with the other, though life has had its twists and turns in both of our lives. When I had my daughter, she passed on her favorite little dresses from her daughter from 8-10 years prior, claiming that she had never felt the desire to pass them onto anyone until she gave them to me, and that I had become like a little sister to her. I was very, very touched, and we truly took really good care of those dresses and only wore them to special places, loving it, every time. We don’t speak often, but can always pick up where we left off, now, almost 25 years later.
Then life happened…Marriage, careers, kids, moves, overtime, the kids’ extracurricular activities, losses, changes, and the friendships of theirs that take over in between driving to and from everything. It’s much more difficult to form friendships when not in school, and the other things take priority over your own needs.
But, every so often, a gem of a person comes out of the woodwork, if you paid close enough attention, and didn’t push it on your kids as an expectation for them as well…lately, I have realized how lucky I have been to have rediscovered those GEMS that I found along the way, but only began true relationships with as of late…
Barbara…The wife of a high school friend that I have become very close with, when he and I hardly speak anymore. Sabrina…A girl from my high school French class who I always liked, but we just ran in separate circles. And Pam…The mom of one my son’s close friends from his high school…now that the kids are in college, we have gotten to know each other better, and I really enjoy spending time with her. It is true for me, that Facebook has assisted in these “re-kindlings” of sort. The ones that pay attention to your posts, your humor, don’t have their own ulterior motives, and follow up…just because. I do have fewer close friends than years ago. I do believe that less is more. I never understood those that needed lots and lots of friends, or to be the mayors of their communities, and because I put so much into relationships, I am often disappointed when others don’t do the same. This has been an epiphany for me as my mom feels the same, and we talk about it often, the fact that we are “best friend kind of girls” and as we age, those best friends leave us for many reasons. I also talk with her more often than I have in the past, and I truly enjoy those phone calls, but just as long as she doesn’t ask me what’s really going on, because sometimes, I’m disappointed in myself, and some of the things that didn’t work out the way that I had hoped, but, that’s life, I guess. I’m lucky to have my mom around to even talk to, when others I know, do not. And, another bonus… I’m also close with my daughter, but, we joke, that she’s the older one in the relationship at times, more often than not. Women, more than men, need these intimate connections and camaraderie to feed their souls and regroup. I returned to sleepaway camp 12 years ago, and am glad that I did. I get to help others form these relationships; Some that will last forever, and some that will just be for a season, or a reason. I still take dance classes, and yoga to further feed my soul. I’ll never be able to keep up with the Jones’, but I hope to find further gems to add to my happy belated friendships. There’s absolutely nothing like them, and you must be ready when their brilliance begins to show.