Friends is a TOUGH topic. Making them is hard. Keeping them is hard. Getting rid of them is hard. Weeding out the shitty ones is super hard.
Yes, yes, that’s what she said. Hashtag I totally walked into that one.
A couple weeks ago, I attended an engagement party for one of my favorite people and oldest friends. We don’t talk on the phone regularly, or even text terribly much. But he’s – oh God, scandal, it’s a dude – a wonderful friend. An honest guy. Handsome and charming and he knows it which makes it cuter, somehow. The kind of friend you kind of can’t lose, even if it’s like 8 months since you spoke and the next time you text, all you can think to say is a so-called inappropriate joke and it’s ok – more than ok, because it’s immediately like no time has passed and you’re both like THIS IS WHY. This is why we are still friends. Despite distance, despite the gaping hole in the time continuum of your communications, despite the wide berth between your career paths and interests.
There is something to be said – and can we take a second to discuss that phrase? Because it’s one of those like have your cake and eat it, too. WTF does it even mean, really? There IS something to say and obviously I’m about to say it in the form of these words right here:
Friends like that – old ones, close ones, ones that know you in a way only THEY CAN. Those are really – like, REALLY special. Special is not even a good word for it. Special is trite. Special is nothing, compared to what it actually means to have those friends. Only TIME can give you those friends. And maybe that’s the hard part.
Because we have to GIVE IT TIME, as Mothers Everywhere are known to say, to even GET those friends. You can’t just meet them and BOOM. I mean yeah sometimes. But mostly? Nah.
Friends like those are the ones you text randomly at a party, where you just had to read that one awkward card pairing in Cards Against Humanity in front of a room full of strangers who don’t know Certain Things about you, and your face turns shades of tomato and you come really close – like, obviously close – to crying in front of these strangers who COULD be friends, but probably won’t, because you almost cried in front of them playing a “fun” game, and like why can’t you just be cool? And suddenly being YOU feels weird and awkward.
And the friend you text? Knows. They send you a text hug, whichever emoji that is right now. And it’s better. You’re YOU again, and they just know and that makes it better.
Making new friends in new stages of life is never a bad thing, obviously. But I’ve occasionally felt like, if I DO make new friends, it means I’m abandoning the old ones. Or that I’ll forget them. Or that they’ll forget me. Or they won’t need me and I won’t need them, and that makes me sad. I don’t WANT to not need them or want them, or vice versa. And I obviously don’t want to be sad.
I don’t want to replace them, and I don’t want to try, because I don’t want to have to tell those stories and open my most secretive Chest of Secrets over and over until the key to my Chest of Secrets is bent and rusty, to find out if maybe this friend will get to That Level.
And I don’t want them to replace me, either. Because I’m ME, and they’re THEM.
It would be the most severe case of FOMO ever, if they stopped wanting / needing / being my friend after all this time.
And sometimes, no matter how awesome that new friend is, it can’t compare. And maybe you’ve figured this out by now: it doesn’t have to.
I don’t know if I should share a lesson here or what. I haven’t figured this jank out yet, if you didn’t realized that yet. But if there IS a lesson, maybe one of them is: it’s ok to make new friends. And, it’s ok to have FOMO. Sometimes. And also? Text that old friend right now. It’s never a bad time. And lastly: they probably do want to hear from you, and it won’t be as weird as you’re probably thinking it will be.
This is dedicated to my Hokie Family, who I love today and every day and every week and every month and every year even when we don’t call or text or snapchat or whatever the kids are doing these days. I won’t forget you, and you better not forget me or else, ya know? I love all of you with my biggest heart – it’s the only one I have, after all. No new friend can replace you: my People. Even if tragedy didn’t color our background, you’d be special and I’d love you forever. But tragedy is there, and it did happen, and even though it sucks, big time, you are more than graffiti’d on the walls of my soul where you could possibly fade with time, or even get painted over at some point by well-meaning volunteers when gentrification finally comes to the neighborhood. You’re carved – into the Hokie Stone, no less – and your edges may soften over time, but you’re there forever. #hokieforlife #neverforget