Old friends, still good friends

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

These people are the lifers. The ones who remember all the sordid details of years past and don’t hold them against you. (In part because you know just as many details about them.)

They’re the ones who helped you through that first date and eventually through the breakup. And the next first date and that breakup, too. They remember the same teachers, they drove the same circles, they had the same conversations.

These friends I refer to as “old” know who they are and I trust that the old reference will be forgiven.

They are the group that both is proud and slightly disturbed by the actual number of years we’ve been friends. We’ve shared a full history of firsts.

Fast-forward from the golden 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 today, for this reason or that, we don’t see each other often enough. We claim to have too much to do. Then we have to ask ourselves if we can justify whiting out an entire calendar square 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 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-ish again.

Wherever and whenever, it’s time well spent. We don’t ask for much. Just a special time when the clouds part and the stars align, presenting us with a few consecutive hours 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 after we’ve been reminded of our first names again.

It’s not selfish or unnecessary me time. It’s them time. And they’re worth it. After all, they knew us then. And stuck around in spite of it.

Shelley Plett is a graphic designer for the Free Press and Kansas Publishing Ventures. She can be reached at shelley@hillsborofree­press.com.

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