I’ve been excited to be seeing “old” friends from college in the past months, and I am over the moon to be continuing to do so in the coming weeks. It has been a great joy and I’ve remembered some moments (though I haven’t spoken of them aloud) that I hadn’t thought of in years. Before seeing each person there was a certain amount of trepidation on my part for many reasons. As always, the fear of “what if they’re appalled by me because of what I look like now” has run through my mind. I am embarrassed to have not given my friends enough credit. They’re my friends for a reason and, frankly, they’re some pretty amazing people. You with they were your friends. There was another fear though, too, and one that I believed to be perfectly rational. I will use the examples of two of my friends, a woman and a man, and try to explain what I mean.
In the case of my female friend, Friend 1, she was once an artsy theater person who now is a highly successful woman in the nonprofit sector. She has an MBA and knows more about numbers than I hope I ever understand. She is confident and in charge of who she is. She is amazing. How would this new person rationalize in my mind with the person I once knew and loved so very much.
Friend 2 was a numbers guy as long as I knew him and he still is, but he’s also a husband now, and a dad, too. I could not figure out how to imagine him in my mind as a dad. I’ve seen him being a dad on Facebook, and I knew that it was a fact, but how could the man, well, boy really, that I knew be a dad?! It made no sense.
What I found in spending some all too short time with each of these friends is that they are still the same, which I sure you knew. I am not saying anything groundbreaking or exciting when I tell you that they are still funny in the same ways, they still possess the same qualities that they had when I first knew them, and that they are perfectly suited to what I consider their new lives. The part that surprised me the most was that the roles they have now were things that were always there, I just didn’t know to see. Sure, they are still able to be unexpected and exciting, I just should have seen the big picture stuff coming.
Friend 1 was always a confident and successful woman, I just didn’t know it was there. I thought of her as a theater buff who liked the same boys and had the same sense of humor, and I was too young and naive to see that she was always so much more beneath the surface. Friend 2 has been a dad in his heart as long as I’ve known him for sure. Watching him sling a child upside down over for the first time felt like for the fiftieth time because he’s always possessed this inherent “awesome dad-ness” that I couldn’t see before. I realized it when we were stalking after being with Friend 2.
I looked over at Husband and I said, “I had completely forgotten that Friend 2 had always been so open hearted. I forgot that he was generous with his words of love and care and that he is such a gentle soul. It’s so hard to see that on social media.” Husband agreed but had not forgotten like I had; he told me stories from college before I knew either of them and ended with, “He was always the best of us, the kindest.” He then went on to thank me because he felt like, without me, he would not have seen Friend 1 again, and that was something he is very glad about.
I am curious to know what my friends worry about when seeing me after years apart, and what they find to have been there all along. Many tell me that my being a teacher “makes sense” to them, and that many things about Daughter are rather obviously “apple didn’t fall far from the tree” situations. I guess that’s why true friends can still come together and be friends no matter how long they spend apart; it’s because they are inherently, fundamentally friends and no amount of time can change who we are deep down. It was all there to begin with.