Thursday, August 1, 2013

Grown-Up Friends

It's interesting and rewarding to gain new friends when you are an older adult. There's an inherent difference between this experience and when I made friends as a child or teenager. I'm still trying to put my finger on exactly what it is...

As a child, you expected to have friends, and stumbled upon little buddies as a normal part of life. We would take our rubber ball out into the street to play kickball, a bunch of other little kids appeared, and you made friends. It just happened. You were drawn to certain other students at school, and all of a sudden you had "peeps" on the playground. I sang in chorus and made friends with others chorus nerds. It was easy. My college friends continue to hold treasured places in my hearts, because that's where we really grew up, together.

As young professionals, making new friends became a little more complicated. Yes, work yielded some new acquaintances and friends, because we spent so much time there. We had to start being more cognizant of romantic relationships among our peers - trying not to make anyone jealous, or sending out the wrong signals. We became more transient, relocating because of our careers, leaving friends behind (geographically), and building a new life. Once committed to a spouse, our world revolved around each other more than friends.

So many distractions are out of play now. It's simply a lovely surprise to make friends when you are middle-aged. It is, perhaps, the greatest unexpected joy we have discovered early in our retired life. In our 50's, we are not as competitive in our friendships. We don't worry about hanging out with the popular kids. My girlfriends laugh if we show up in the same golf outfit. It doesn't matter if we conform with anyone else's idea of how we should look, or who we should be. It's pretty cool that people like us for who we are. At this point, we're unlikely to change much.

The passage of time and the goodness of life colors our enjoyment of each other in a soft light. Occasionally we are faced with reminders of how fragile life can be. The laughter, smiles, hugs, play, jokes, and closeness follow us from day to day, comfortable knowing that we are part of something warm, and bigger than we are alone.

Thank you, Friends.

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