“Friends are like stars... you don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there.”
We met again Saturday for the first time in almost 25 years.
The two of us had been separated by distance and time, but we quickly discovered our bond of childhood friendship remained intact and remained something special for both of us.
In venturing back to my hometown this past weekend, many thoughts went through my mind about this long overdue reunion. So often it’s difficult to continue a friendship through the years.
You grow older. You become perhaps a different person than you were all those years ago. It’s something that happens all the time and to most of us.
For my childhood friend, Laura, and myself, I am thankful to say that was not the case. Perhaps it comes from the type of bond you build from growing up in Small Town, USA. Perhaps it’s something in terms of character, which has been passed on to us from our families.
Regardless, as the two of us met at her aunt’s house back in our hometown, the years which had elapsed didn’t seem to matter and — quite frankly — didn’t seem to exist. For more than five hours, the two of us talked and erased the time gap which had formed. Truthfully, we probably could have talked twice that long. Still, it was a day that was much needed for me in so many ways and one that will remain stamped on the calendar in my mind. All in all, one of those perfect days we all need to continue on our journey.
When you’re young, you don’t appreciate friendship like you should. Oh, we all talk about having good friends, but being young and immature in so many ways we are thinking only about the present day, not capable of seeing too far in the future.
With the passing years, however, we begin to realize what is truly important in life. Family, friends and special relationships, which we find ourselves wanting to continue, move more into the spotlight of our minds.
The miracle of technology helped reconnect these two childhood friends, although we both agree it could have been done in a much easier way.
I realize I am lucky in having a fond childhood to remember. It’s not that way for everyone. Many times there simply wasn’t enough positive to make it worth remembering or looking back on.
While the two of us have made our current homes in other places than our hometown, we share a common love of the place we grew up. A town which has not changed that much through the years, perhaps one of the few things in life that remains pretty much the same as it was in 1986 when we last saw each other before Saturday.
Life doesn’t stop. We all move on and carve out our own identities, our own paths and our own lives.
Still, every once in a while a friendship develops when you are young that remains with you. A friendship helped made even more concrete by the loss of someone extremely close to both of us. A friendship, that if we both live several decades more, will remain as it always has been.
Reunions like the one we had Saturday don’t always work and aren’t always possible. Time can erase even the closest of connections. For us, it was the opposite. It was as if the nearly quarter of a century had not occurred, perhaps only a few months.
“We were always together back then,” Laura told me. “It was such a special time for you, me and all of our friends.”
Indeed it was a special time. And now, with knowing that the next meeting will not take 25 years to happen, we know that Saturday was a special time and a special day.
There are some things time cannot erase. A friendship formed in small town America is one of those.
While a truly great writer no doubt could have expressed all of this better, let me say this is a column that is truly from the depths of the heart.
A column centered on a word — friendship — I hold dear and one which shows that every once in a while, you have had a positive impression on someone and, in return, they have made the same on you. Saturday, Oct. 16, is a day I will always be thankful for. Just as I am thankful for a childhood friendship and bond, which remains as strong in 2010 as it was in 1986.
Chris Bridges is editor of the Barrow Journal. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10/21/10 at 09:20 PM
I've always enjoyed your columns about growing up. Like you, I grew up in a small town (in Alabama) and the friendships formed back then remain with me today. You should be proud in the way you honor your friends. Friendship is indeed a very special gift.
It's rare that I read a newspaper column more than once. Yet I have found myself reading this column by Mr. Bridges several times. Very powerful. Friendship of this nature is rare. We should all be blessed to have at least one friendship of this magnitude.