Kerry wrote an excellent blog post about what it's like to be living far away from family and friends. She recently moved to Germany and says that the lack of history with the people she spends her time with now makes it lonely. I found that to be a very interesting thought.
It is always exciting and fun to meet new people, but it is different from when you're with people that you already know. I find that I feel a little bit more like myself when I'm in the company of someone that I've known for a long time. It's like I feel the image that they still hold of the person I once was reflecting back a little. Such as being in a new job, and then connecting with a co-worker who remembers me when I was more idealistic, enthusiastic, and energetic than I am now. They give a little bit of it back to me by including that into their view of the person I am today.
I think we get a different kind of energy from people who are new to us than from those we've been around for a long long time. You need both, in the long run. When we're with people who are new to us it's all about potential and discovery, and sharing the experience of whatever you are going through at that moment in time. You get all of that in addition to the compounded history of past experiences when it's someone you've known longer. That's why it's important to me to hold on to a connection to the friends that I have had through the years. They just can't be replaced.
Aside from of course family I'm fortunate to have a best friend that I've known since before I was born. Our mothers played bridge together while they were pregnant. I like to say that Susie and I are exactly alike except for the ways in which we are completely different. Since we live in different cities we rarely see each other but it's nice to know that friendship will always be there no matter what.
This summer when I had more time I got to reconnect with my best buddy from high school. We have kept in touch but somehow hadn't manage to get together for so many years that I had never met her son who has now started kindergarden. Renee was always there to join in with all my crazy schemes, we did everything together back when there was everything to do. My boys were intrigued to meet this person who I've known since long before I was a mommy. I intend to keep that friendship forever too, even though distance means that it will require some effort. It's worth it.
I've found that life circumstances change, people move, interests diverge, and it is easy to let a lot of time go by without connecting to those who were once important to me. But when we do get together, it is always very powerful to be in the presence of those that shared the experience of growing up, going to college, starting our careers, having our first children, or living in the same neighborhood. We have overlapping chapters in the stories that make up the big book of our lives.
My wish for Kerry is that she keeps her connection with both the people she knew before she left, and those that she meets over there, long after she comes back. The same goes for couple of my other friends who are about to take off on similar journeys. And I'll try to make use of the wisdom of her comments about her experience to take advantage of the fact that I am not seperated by an ocean from so many of the people that I'd like to spend time with, and just make the effort to go and set that up. Listen closely, your phone might be ringing soon!