Today, I looked up an old friend of mine. We were friends as freshmen in college, twenty five long years ago. The years have flown by so fast. I was sixteen, a free spirit; he was eighteen, cocky, funny with a winsome, easy smile. We were innocent, without the many layers that come with age and blighting experiences.
We had common friends, so we moved in the same social circuit. Attended the same parties, dated each others friends. The beauty of youth minus the pressures of paying bills and caring for children.
We had our futures in front of us. We all had stars in our eyes in those days and the world was our oyster. So, today we spent the morning together. Met for a late breakfast and caught up on the happenings in our individual lives. Our respective spouses were absent, so there was no need to pick topics, looking for comfortable grey areas that would not alienate them.
We talked about an old girlfriend of his. It’s been eons since they broke up but he still wanted to talk about it. I thought that it was sweet. I guess in walking backwards in time to determine what went wrong, we try to fix the future. They were no longer together but the circle of friendship still existed…..some friends closer than others. We spoke about the girlfriends he did away with before finding his missing rib. What made him make up his mind about her and how from knowing what he didn’t want in a woman, he found what he really wanted.
He laughed at what he called my ability to analyze behavioral patterns to the letter; how he could never win an argument with me. I found it extremely refreshing, our ability to communicate with candor without feeling judged. The simplicity and honesty of expressions, not putting each other under a microscope.
Candor is so lacking in our generation. We always feel the need to wear a mask. We hide our pain, anxieties and fears from each other. Always trying to measure up to some high expectations we have set for ourselves. Thus putting pressure on our selves and relationships with our loved ones. We wear our plastic smiles all day……..and when it slips, we rush into the powder room to put it back in place!
After we say our goodbyes, I feel six feet taller. Him, with the same winsome smile, though his smile is now framed with a hoary mustache and beard.
He reinforces my commitment to my special circle of friends. Some are faces from the past. People I used to care deeply about. Circumstances and pressures have driven some away from the circumference, but they remain within the arc of interest.
Old friends are definitely better than new ones. They know your “quirks and twists”. Though you have long months of silence , you pick up from where your last conversation stopped with no hard feelings.They stay true,their interest in you is not feigned.
“An old friend is like wine, its true value is in its antiquity”