NOSTALGIA: a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for the return of some past period or irrecoverable condition
I visited an old friend yesterday. Well, the friend is young, but the friendship is old.
Our friendship had an unusual start that involved the female equivalent of a pissing contest (seriously, there were garden hoses involved and I’m pretty sure I heard Freud yelling “I told you so” in the wind). We recovered from the bumpy beginning and remained friends throughout junior high and high school. We went to the same college, shared an apartment, built houses together in Mexico, attended each other’s weddings, etc. Once, after a particularly difficult breakup and a tearful phone call, she drove two hours to see me in person just so that she would know I was really okay. She is that kind of friend.
A couple months ago, I received a card announcing the birth of her third daughter. I cried. I didn’t even know she was pregnant. How could that be? How could an entire pregnancy pass without us talking?
Sure, there are reasons. We live an hour apart. We are both busy juggling children and work. Our spouses are not friends. Our children do not attend the same school. But those are just shallow excuses…aren’t they?
It was great to spend time with her yesterday. We exchanged updates on spouses, siblings and parents while our children made full use of her house’s circular floor plan. She is the friend I remember. Quick to laugh. Slow to judge. Smart. Beautiful. Gracious.
I felt a little wistful that so much of our conversation involved updates. It was such a sharp contrast to the days when we saw each other regularly and shared in the little and big events of daily life. But, like a favorite sweatshirt, our friendship remains comfortable and familiar. I will always be grateful to have my friend. I will always be glad to see her.
But, the reality of this season of my life is that I have limited time and the moments I do have tend to occur in the proximity of my children and their school activities. The friends I see most often are those that share in portions of my routine. They are the ladies from my mom’s group. Parents from my kiddos schools. Families that attend pajama story time with us at the public library. Sure, we’ve never overdosed on Pixie Stix together or installed an army of headless gummy bears on the ceiling at church camp but we did survive baby bootcamp together and have served side by side in the toddler trenches. My mommy friends see me regularly. They show their concern when the bags under my eyes darken beyond the sickly purple that is my new normal. They don’t laugh when they point out that my shirt is on backward. They calmly remove clumps of mysterious goo from my hair. I look the other way when one of them needs a glass of wine at 3pm. I do not judge when they bribe their children with treats in exchange for acceptable behavior. We express our love in lattes.
It is always great to see old friends. They remind me of who I was before children. They know my quirks. They can appreciate how much I’ve mellowed with age. The trips down memory lane bring deep comfort and reassurance. It is essential to see my new friends. They make the daily grind bearable.