PARTS OF SPEECH- Go ahead, schedule ‘them’ time, too

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN SHELLEY PLETT
“Together you’ve dug through your backyard looking for pirate’s treasure and dug through bargain bins during shopping outings…. Girlfriends are touchstones…offering the acceptance, support, laughter and love that make living complete.”

-Chicken Soup for the Girlfriend’s Soul

The more old friends change, the more they stay the same. Sorry, I couldn’t avoid the cliché; it’s just the way it is.

Aside from their circumstances, these friends we refer to as “old” thankfully do stay the same in the ways that matter. And since they know who they are, we can trust that the “old” reference will be forgiven.

These are the lifers. The ones who remember all the sordid details of junior high and don’t hold them against you. (In part because you remember just as many details about them.) The ones who helped you through that first date and eventually through the breakup. And the next first date and that breakup, too.

They are the group that is proud and a little disturbed by the actual number of years you’ve been friends. You’ve shared a full history of firsts.

Fast forward from the golden olden days and now we’re called by “Mom” more often than our first names. Not that any one of us are fool enough to take that for granted. Our primary focus has evolved from friendships to family, as it should.

And now, for this reason or that, we don’t see each other often enough. We already have too much to do. Then we have to ask ourselves if can justify whiting out an entire calendar square, securing baby-sitters, and leaving town.

Most of the time, the answer is no. We tend to plan big and then settle for less. But every so often, because we’re also not fool enough to believe we don’t need to drive far away once in awhile, things fall just right and we do make it out the door.

When it happens, whether it’s a couple of meetings per year or a couple of years between meetings, we’re suddenly 17 again. Only wiser. And with less hairspray. (Circa 1988, when Aqua Net reigned.)

Wherever and whenever, it’s time well spent. We don’t ask for much. Just a few consecutive hours, accessible shopping and a waiter who honors the promise of endless chips-and-salsa bowls.

A lot of de-stressing can happen over a plate of smothered enchiladas. It’s a good place to be.

It’s good for our families, too. We go home happier now that we’ve been reminded of our first names again. And at special times, when the clouds part and the stars align, we find shoes in our sizes on the bargain table.

It’s not selfish or unnecessary “me” time. It’s more about “them” time.

After all, they knew us “before” and “back when.” And stuck around in spite of it.

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