What Lasts

It is scary to be old enough to have had a 20-year high school reunion. On the other hand, it is amazing to be old enough to gather with former school friends all of whom are capable of recognizing and celebrating the various ways we’ve become adults.

During winter carnival weekend, a small group of friends from junior high and high school gathered to watch street events and reconnect with Steamboat and with each other. People in the group have done impressive things—become doctors or engineers, sold everything and started over with a new lifestyle that fit better, given birth. Perhaps most impressive to me was that we all still enjoyed each other.

Some of these people I see annually and some I hadn’t seen for over twenty years, but we still laughed and told stories not as if time hadn’t passed but rather with a miraculous ease in spite of being aware that it had.

The idea that the friendships we make before age 25 are more lasting than those we make later in life has come up in conversation recently. I doubt this is uniformly true, but I think there’s something to it.

Things enter us differently when we’re children than when we’re adults—landscape, music, language; so many things go straight into our DNA, so to speak, unquestioned and unfiltered by the layers of judgment we practice as adults. Perhaps this is true for childhood friendships, too—they get wired in somehow.

It’s nice to know that even when our daily thinking and acting is overlaid with adult concerns, we can rediscover the connections we formed when life was more immediate. And see what good choices our younger selves made.

4 thoughts on “What Lasts

  1. I have two friends from high school who have been waiting in my Facebook friend place for what may have been a year now. One of them wrote something like “it must be you. Most of the details are wrong but the picture looks like you haven’t changed at all.” Yes, most of the details in my life _do_ seem wrong, but yes, for better or worse, I am still very much the person they knew in high school. I have neither accepted nor ignored them yet, but you make me think I should pull them in.

    I do not know whether my friendships of 11-18 have elasticity. 1) In classes of 11, maybe you make more family than friends–greater distances, greater closenesses than people chosen among many. 2) In the last two years of high school, things got strange with me and I somewhat severed social ties while still being there for the ties to feel cut off. Would the elasticity have lasted through that to come back now? Would we be bounded by having been through a school system that none of our peers would ever quite have been through? 3) I am unlikely to find most of these classmates ever again so it might be tough to test.

  2. “Things enter us differently when we’re children than when we’re adults—landscape, music, language.” I find it strange to find, upon re-visiting the rough lyricism of the Indigo Girls’ songs, that they were not written specifically for the passions and plangency of my Carleton life. I might not have quite been a child then, but it was intense and circumscribed and under 25. I knew when I was there that I had good friendships–and a few of the close ones still have that quality: “we still laughed and told stories not as if time hadn’t passed but rather with a miraculous ease in spite of being aware that it had.” Thanks for catching that and holding it.

  3. I had a very similar conversation with Jon on the way home from that weekend. I marveled at how I would choose to be friends with all of you all over again if I met you today. Our younger selves indeed made good choices.

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