I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was breaking my usual tradition and making a New Year’s resolution: to do whatever I can to touch base with old friends. For various reasons, as I said then, I have let my life concerns get in the way of being a proper friend. Then I looked around and wondered where everyone was. It isn’t all my fault. While I haven’t exactly been the best correspondent, the fact that my parents moved us around quite a bit as kids had something to do with the difficulty of maintaining close friendships, too.
But you always think there will be time. Some time, later on, you can look those people up, and they’ll still be there, somewhere. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true. I regret it took the death of a friend — and not exactly a close friend, but a friend nonetheless — to teach me that life is too short to wait, and those friends might not be there. I didn’t want to wait and find only regrets instead of old friends.
So I set out to find as many of my old, close friends as I could and resolved to be a better correspondent to those that responded and, in the case of my friend Jenni, to those with which I had always remained in touch. The results have been far more rewarding than I could have imagined, and I am so happy I made the effort.
So far, I have renewed my friendship with my oldest friend, Darcy. We have been e-mailing regularly for the last couple of weeks. It feels so good to have her back in my life again. I also heard from my college roommate Kari. She’s doing very well, and it was nice to hear from her. I’m glad she decided to be a teacher.
Today, I heard from another old elementary school friend, Ha. She moved in the house across the street from my grandmother when we were in 3rd grade. We became fast friends, having a shared passion for Barbie dolls. My grandmother has remained friends with Ha’s mother, and mentioned in their last phone conversation that I would be going to Boston on a school trip, but of course my grandmother didn’t know exactly when. Ha lives near Boston, in Concord. My grandmother tried to get in touch with Ha’s mother and finally succeeded after a couple of days. So I got Ha’s e-mail address and wrote her last night. It’s hard to begin a letter like that. Hi, I haven’t seen you in 20 years, but I’m going to be in Boston in two weeks, and would you like to have a cup of coffee? On the one hand, I was half-scared Ha wouldn’t remember me, which is stupid, because I spent the night at her house tons of times and we were really good friends. This next part is really goofy, too, but I was intimidated too by the fact that Ha is a Harvard graduate. As if that somehow makes her too good to talk to me! Honestly, I’m such a dork. But I received a warm response, and I got to see pictures of her beautiful baby girl.
I have to say that the last few weeks, hearing from old friends, has been, in a word, amazing. So I guess my advice to you all, is to value your friends and stay in touch. If you aren’t in touch, get in touch. Even if it means your first letter needs to be an apology. It’s worth it. My life has become so much richer in the last few weeks, and who knows where it will all lead?
Ralph Waldo Emerson advised “keep your friendships in repair.” It’s a simple statement, but how many of us really register what it means enough to do it? No wonder they called him the Sage of Concord.