I've heard it said that "old friends are the best friends." When I was younger, I thought it meant that your best friends would naturally be your oldest friends. And, while that might be true for some folks, it's not always the truth for all. Now that I'm older and have more perspective, I think I finally understand what that adage means.
The friends that you have had for years and years and maybe even decades and decades are some of the sweetest friendships. It's not necessarily because of all the accrued time that you have logged together (although that might be it), rather it's the span of time you've shared over your two prospective lifetimes.
I know I'm not the only 30-something person who feels like high school was just a few years ago. It's only when I actually start mentally counting up from my graduation year (1991) that I am shocked to discover that so many years have actually gone by! Almost 20! How did that even happen? Of course, I can mentally flip through all the life experiences and occasions I've had since I was 17 and walking proudly across that stage -- but for some reason it doesn't jive with the reality of 20 years!
I have had many great friendships over the years. I can even remember my first best friend, Hailee. I wish that we were in contact, although I know so many years have gone by and you can only talk about Rick Springfield, the GoGos, and stealing blackberries from her dad's garden so much.
The other set of friends that really start the clock on my "oldest friends set" are from junior high and high school. I think it's mostly because it's at this point that we truly entered in more mature friendships. We walked through puberty together, laughed and cried about boys together, and shared our hopes and dreams for the future.
One of these friends is my talented friend, Lori, who spent the night on our couch last Friday, braving children crying and middle of the night potty breaks. I'm fuzzy on the details of how we met, but I think it was because of a mutual family friendship, and because we were both pastor's kids (PKs). Actually, it's a wonder we did ever meet since we lived two hours apart. However, meet we did, and we must have each seen something we liked in each other at the mutal age of 14, because we ended up corresponding by letter (before the days of email) and eventually both spent a week at each other's houses -- I traveled to San Marcos, and she came down to the desert of El Centro.
Because our shared PK status, we had lived sort of a parallel life. We both instinctively understood each other's life and the challenges we had and did face. We enjoyed the same type of Christian rock (Amy Grant, Whiteheart, Allies, anyone?) and clothing. And yes, we did end up buying the same sundress at Miller's Outpost and wore those things unashamedly to her church youth group.
We ended up in Texas at the same pastor's convention (that was fun!) and over the years, we attended the same summer youth camps. Eventually we both attended the same university (although at different times), and both spent time living overseas (at different times and in different places). We both got married (although neither of us could attend each other's weddings) and have continued to share our lives with each other via email -- and then Facebook. We've walked through our own tough times, and have even watched our parents get battered and bruised by church life, and have shared that pain with the other. We have that PK sisterhood and it's a club that offers some understanding into these things. Thankfully, we've both been able to share the restorative times as well.
I guess what I'm saying is that while I'm sure neither of us would describe the other as the end-all-be-all best friend....we are nonetheless good friends that have walked through life...well, together. And the older I get, the more value and worth I find in that. Twenty years of friendship (and I think it's actually more like 22 or 23) is nothing to sneeze at...and actually it's a pretty big milestone. While I know that there are many who can boast 30, 40, 50, even 60 years of friendship, being able to count in the decades at all is a big accomplishment.
The years have only made me appreciate Lori even more. She has risen above some terrible moments in her life and has become the better for them. There is a honesty and depth in her. She craves authentic and transparent relationships -- something I also greatly value. She is a culinary wonder, and enjoys making food for the people she loves -- as I recently had the good fortune to taste for myself. She's also talented and accomplished photographer (as you can see in her food blog...btw, that's me thoroughly enjoying that roasted corn). But most of all, she's just a lovely soul.
I don't pretend to know all about Lori's life and her hopes and dreams -- just like she wouldn't pretend to know all of mine. And, I probably couldn't tell you about her 5 favorite things (hmmm...or could I?). But, I do know that the 14-year-old girl that I felt an instant connection to all of those years ago, is still a part of the Lori I know today. And, that matters. And, it also makes me feel like a part of her history. Just like she is a part of mine.
So...old friends...they may or may not be your current closest friends. But, nonetheless, they are still some of the very best.
Love ya, LJ! I can't wait to see what the next 20 years hold for us.