Silver and gold friends

I went to a wedding in Florida last weekend. Today when my client asked how the trip went, I said, “It’s nice to realize that if you met your college friends all over again more than a decade later, you would still want to be friends with them.”

That was…measured. If I met my college friends today I would have ENORMOUS friend crushes on them. I might even be so intimidated—by their smarts, by their style, certainly by the geographic distance between most of us—that I’d never act on it. Thank goodness we met more than a decade ago!

from the archives: May 20, 2005

A couple of weeks ago I started corresponding with a pen pal at a local elementary school. She wrote the questions below in italics. Underneath them are my answers tonight when I think about my college people:

Do you like your best friend because I do and her name is Myeasha? 

Yes, I do. Like Beyonce, “I need my sisters.”

best friends do a lot for you like mines. She gives me very good edv-
ice.What about your best friend what does she or he do for you?

Here are some things my college friends did for each other this weekend: Ndidi drove her rental car to the airport and waited outside for an hour to spare me and Cristina an expensive late-night cab ride. Several of us shuffled hotel plans at the last minute (and some people paid more than they’d originally planned) so we could all have beds to ourselves. Zahra got the entire wedding crowd to sing “My Girl” to the bride in a tribute to the memory of a late-night diner singalong of yesteryear, then sneakily distributed a bunch of band-aids to those of us who went to school in St. Louis so they could be whipped out and affixed to our faces when Nelly came on. Annasara and I helped each other justify a LOT of those warm Doubletree cookies from the front desk. And when the groom’s vows acknowledged what a talented, multifaceted, calming, smart partner he’s got, that’s when the waterworks started, if they hadn’t already. “He sees what we see!,” our hearts and eyes said.

I feel conflicted linking to an Onion article in light of the last few weeks, but a few years ago there was one called Female Friends Spend Raucous Night Validating the Living Shit Out of Each Other. That’s what these people do for me and for each other, Pen Pal. But not in an insincere way.

many people become your friend very fast don’t you think so?

Well, not exactly, not as I get older. I look at my Grandma, still making new friends everywhere she goes, and I see the possibility for this to be true – especially when you live in close proximity to people with whom you have things in common and you’re guaranteed to run into them a lot. But as we move around and commit to jobs and/or partners and/or other things; as we devote some of our downtime to video chats with old friends; as we rely on Facebook more than we write letters or make phone calls, I wouldn’t say that my friends and I are making a lot of new, true, deep friends very fast. (This is part of why I’m participating in Fear Experiment here in Chicago: to meet new people and hopefully cultivate a stronger community in my new-ish home. And that’s how I met you!)

In college, I went to hear the author Anita Diamant speak about her work. Someone asked her a question about female friendships and the influence they have on her writing. She talked about her own relationships with people of different ages and said something to the effect of, “Old friends are important because they remind you of where you come from and who you’ve been. And new friends are important because they remind you that it takes work to trust and to be trusted.” So I know we will make new friends, that we need to lean into the process of it rather than rushing, and that these new friends will make us laugh and teach us things about who we are now. And at the same time, I’m so grateful for technology and life milestones and the memories that keep me in touch with my old friends.

Pen Pal, I hope you and Myeasha stay friends forever. And I hope someday I can share this post with you so you see what you inspired! Maybe we’ll even become real-life friends.

Photo: Graduation day archives. 

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