Friends come from a lot of places but have you ever noticed that most of them stay in the places where you met them? Before I retired, I had work friends who ate lunch with me often. They made my office a happy place to be. I’ve had church friends that I talked to every Sunday. Fellowship is a wonderful part of the church experience. I’ve been friends with fellow Scout leaders and with the parents of my children’s friends. We kept each other sane while dealing with our kids. There are old friends from high school and crazy college friends who still hold a special place in my heart. There are ex-boyfriends and a few people who only pretended to be my friend. I have good memories about most of them and I loved spending time with them but, outside of those environments, we don’t have as much in common. Those kinds of friendship are hard to maintain when life takes us in different directions. I am grateful for social media sites that have allowed me to stay in touch with so many of them. I know that if I were to see each of them again, our conversations would be filled with laughter.
I am still in contact with the first friend I can ever remember having. Carolyn and I met when we were three or four, and we’ve been pen pals since we were ten. She now lives in Oregon and we have visited each other a few times over the years. I am just as comfortable having a conversation with her now as I was when we played together at the Cub Scout meetings our big brothers attended. I hate that she lives so far away!
One friendship from work has continued for 32 years. Judy’s always got good ideas about fun things to do and I’ve been the lucky recipient of many great meals and desserts prepared by her. In fact, the year I was doing fifty new things, I received a box of fifty cookies from her! (#12 on my fifty “firsts” list!)
Another friend, Kathy, who I met in seventh grade, moved out of state but we talk on the phone and try to get together a couple of times a year. We always laugh and it’s such fun remembering slumber parties, band trips, and going to NYC as young adults. Sometime after we graduated from high school, we spent a week in Ocean City with another friend. Both of them were bridesmaids in my wedding.
I think about my newest travel buddy. On our first trip together, a sixteen day tour of Scotland and Ireland, we were quite polite for the first day or two. By the end of the trip, we were as comfortable together as a bathrobe and slippers, just the way good friends should be.
Now that my kids have grown up, I have more time to spend with my friends and I’ve made many new friends since I retired. The team that I go with on my mission trips has enriched my life spiritually, each of them helping me to be a better person by following their examples. My friends from Lifelong Learners have challenged my brain and helped me to keep those neurons firing. And then there is my needle arts group. Those women are the smartest, kindest group of women I know. They don’t even seem to mind that I don’t like to knit!
Writing about my friends makes me smile. I am grateful for all of them and happy that they tolerate me, even when I’m walking just a few steps beyond normal.