There is nothing more valuable in life than having friends. Sure, I wish for lots of money and all kinds of materials things like most everyone, but a good friend is priceless.
I am a very lucky person. I have several good friends and they are scattered all over the place. Fortunately, location may count in real estate, but it doesn’t in friendship. Several of my bestest best friends live over a thousand miles away. In fact, some of us haven’t lived together in the same location for over 50 years…yet we are inseparable in mind and spirit. Three of us know each other since middle school and as each of us married, our wives simply melted into the friendship.
My “local” friends are mostly from working relationships—people who were part of my “office family” and even though we no longer work together, we still get together from time to time, share e-mails and phone calls and otherwise keep each other in our personal radar systems, monitoring the beeps to make sure everyone is on the same screen.
There are other people you develop relationships with but they seem to come and go. Maintaining a friendship with them with any regularity just doesn’t happen for one reason or another. These are the folks you wind not seeing for long periods of time, but they are still friends, just not on the level of others. They do manage, however, to usually show up at your funeral service…and that’s okay. We’re all not destined to like each other on the same level of commitment. The “premium” friendships are few and far between and consume consistent attention and concern. But regardless of “level,” all the friendships you are lucky enough to accumulate are the true golden nuggets you’ll mine during your lifetime.
I got to thinking about this topic of friendship and it led to my usual compulsive nature to analyze things…hence, all the above. The motivation came from a dinner my wife Rosemarie and I had the other night with a renewed acquaintance and her husband. I say “acquaintance” because that’s just about as close as we were when we both attended the same schools when we were kids. In fact, I repeatedly comment how we have talked more to each other in the past year than we did in the 6-7 years we sat in the same classrooms with each other. We were simply not in the same circle, as they say. Her last name began with “L” and mine with “K” so we were always in close proximity to each other on the seating chart…but that really had no influence on the relationship anymore than if she had been a “T” and I a “B.”
But fast forward two adult lifetimes and here we are seated next to each other for dinner. Our reunion was the result of her “running” into me here on the internet and we soon became reacquainted and began bantering e-mails back and forth. I drove a hundred and some miles to see her; she few half-way around the world. She and her husband live in Hawaii and she had come to Florida to see her mother who actually looks more like her older sister. Don’t you just envy good genes!
We had each married long ago, raised a family, had careers and pretty much went through the normal ups and downs. It was almost as if we were strangers who had just met, were coincidentally seated next to each other at a dinner table and began sharing our life stories. But I said “almost”… it just wasn’t quite like that. We had known each other previously, regardless how elementary the knowing was. We had shared times and places—memories—and they were links that made us, not strangers, but old friends who hadn’t seen each other for some time and we were just “catching up.”
It was a unique experience feeling this bonding with someone you hadn’t seen for many years, let alone having had much of a relationship to begin with. I don’t know if she sensed the same feelings I did, but it was a most enjoyable event. Indeed, it was an event, the kind that makes me understand better what friendship is all about. It’s the linkage that counts, not entirely the duration. It’s okay if the connection is simply a familiar pinball that occasionally comes rolling in, hitting you and then bouncing off into still another direction. It really makes no difference because between friends the bells still ring, the lights still light and the good feelings come alive. It was a great dinner. Thank you old friend!