Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A friend is a friend - even 30 years later

Recently, I had the pleasure of going back to my hometown to see friends.  I knew the women when we were all young girls who went together to church and school for twelve years, then, as usually happens, many of us scattered as we chose different kinds of careers and colleges, married and made homes.

After more than thirty years, having reconnected on-line, we wanted to meet in person, and were actually able to make it happen.  Coming from Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia, we made our way back to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where we convened for dinner.  Each of us was a little older, a bit wiser, slightly weathered by the twists and turns of coping with daily life.

What surprised me, however, was not the changes in our looks, but how unchanged everyone's basic personality seemed to be.  Not only did I feel immediately comfortable and content to be back in the company of my friends, but I still knew these women.  They were, after decades, still the strong, solid people I knew as a kid.  I found it gratifying, yet hard to believe, that everyone at the table has been successful at what we chose to do.  Each person seemed confident and poised to one degree or another.

I never read Hillary Clinton's It Takes a Village, but I wonder if she included friends in the influences considered important to a child's formation.  As I looked around the table at my childhood friends, I knew they had helped to shape my values and attitudes.  Although my parents were the central figures in my upbringing, no one can deny peer pressure and opinion is one of the strongest motivators in our lives as we muddle our way through the teenage years.  It wasn't hard to remembering lessons I learned from one of my friends in sharing; from another, I developed a sense of compassion; a third showed me a thing or two about humility;  another taught me the importance of letting go and having some fun. 

For all of these gifts, and more, I owe my friends a giant "thank-you."  I was lucky, and I hope my readers were also blessed with good friends.  I also hope you will check on your children or grandchildren and their pals.  It's a cliche that a kid can "get in with the wrong crowd" and get into trouble; it is, however, quite true!

1 comment:

Denise said...

Though usually quite cynical,I too am amazed at what our group (the Concord girls) has become: successful careers, happy women, leaders in the community, mothers, grandmothers, mothers to the children of others, and, as we shared our memories, children nurtured under God's love.

Did you notice that we have all become very giving women ... teachers, nurses, other healthcare professionals? The ups-and-downs of childhood friendships taught us a lot.

We passed the test of true friendship. Sitting down together after over 30 years felt like sitting down together after 30 minutes.

I walked away a little melancholy that the lives we live today are so very mobile. There is a lot to be said for life in the past where communities were small and long-lasting. Thinking again, though, the 30 years demonstrate the unquestionable strength of our bonds with each other.

I am truly blessed to be a Concord girl.