“Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” If you don’t recognize this song, you probably weren’t a girl scout or Brownie growing up.
I often grapple with the fact that some friendships don’t last forever. There are people from the past who I often yearn for but no longer speak to. I wish I could pick the phone up and call them, but so much time has elapsed, and so many years have gone by, that it’s now impossible.
A study taken last year at the Universite du Quebec at Montreal, Harvard University and Emmanuel College in Boston found that women were more likely than men to sever a friendship after a single offense. I can relate.
Many women I was once very close to in my 20’s and early 30’s got angry over one unintentional slip up and never forgave me. I have long suffered over these lost friendships. I consider the misunderstandings to not have been something to terminate the relationships over; we simply needed to talk the situation through. Isn’t what what friends do?
There was the friend who apparently got insulted at my wedding when I didn’t include her in my list of toasts at my wedding’s rehearsal dinner. It was never clear to me that she wanted to participate; I would have loved for her to have. Gone.
There was the friend who was wrongly influenced by that friend who dumped me soon after. Gone.
There was the friend who dumped me for not inviting to her to my wedding. Gone.
There was the friend who dumped me because I took too much time to call her back when I had two babies at home, and I had just gone back to work. Gone.
There was the friend who asked me to choose between my future husband and her. Gone.
There was the friend I got a job for when she was desperate for one who later dumped me on Facebook, after telling me she had moved to Paris when she hadn’t. According to Linked In, which she still keeps me on, she’s still living in New York. Gone (and do I care about this one, not really…. Paris?)
Should I go on? No, I’ll stop, thank you. But honestly, I am a very good friend to the people I love. I’d do anything for them. The friends I mention above were all really important figures in my life during a pivotal period. I moved to New York City at age 24 with nothing but a suitcase full of dreams and one relation, my sister. I developed a network of friends who became my family over the years. We did everything together. Everything from plays, films, museums, meals in and out, parties, walks in the park, rides in Central Park to Passover seders and our ritual Friday night services at B’nai Jesshurin, a synaogue in Manhattan.
When I needed a shoulder to cry on, they were there. When I had good news to report, they were there. When I needed help, they were there. They helped me through break-ups, interviewing new room-mates, picking out furniture for my first apartment and so much more. I didn’t realize that it would be an effort it would be to keep the friends that I made during this critical time of my life. I loved my years in the city, and they were an important part of it.
But somewhere along the line, they dropped out. My husband, who pretty much keeps in touch with everyone he’s ever known, has always asked me how good these friends really were. Who dumps you when you need them most? My heart was broken for years, and only recently have I been able to cut the strings. Why? He’s right. Friends who really care don’t leave you in the lurch with no explanation. They don’t permanently sever the ties.
It’s extremely hard to watch my wedding video, which features images of some of the people who were once such an important part of my life. Of course, I have stayed in touch with many of the friends from this time period, who remain very dear and close to me. When I met my husband many years ago, I met two women who would become my closest friends. One now lives on Long Island with two new twin babies and her husband; the other lives in Brooklyn with her husband. Thanks to our cell phones, we talk several times a week and see each other often. My children consider them aunts and uncles. When I need advice or help, I am more likely to call them than anyone. They help me get to a place where I can cope with my ev
eryday struggles. Without them, I would not be complete.
eryday struggles. Without them, I would not be complete.
However, when I moved, and after my first child was born, I realized my time started to become more and more limited. Email became the all important mode of communication and I had to narrow down the list of people I would be in touch with. I also have a few other very close friends who live in other parts of the country. We talk every few weeks and I feel comfortable to say whatever is on my mind.
As a mother, I need to share my life with other women to make sense of where I am in life. I feel a connection to these friends of the past, and there are those who have stuck by me through thick and thin. These are true friends I can call when I need advice, a laugh or to reminisce.
However, the friends I see most often are from the current chapter of my life. Many of the women I have met since moving are the same age, with young kids, experiencing the same kinds of decisions and life changes. I call them for advice on doctors, recipes, birthday parties, in-laws, camp, after-school activities, play dates and how to juggle work and motherhood. These are the women I talk to on a daily basis and if there is an emergency, I know they will be here for me.
My husband’s relationships don’t seem to have the same amount of intimacy that my relationships have. Often, after he’s been out for a drink with someone, I’ll ask what they talked about. Tonight, for example, he went for a drink with a friend in the area, and he said they talked about ice-hockey and English football. They don’t seem to have any desire to dig beneath the surface like women do.
Our deepest friendships offer a sense of continual discovery, but they can also provide a sense of consistency during years of change. I think that if a relationship lasts past the age of 40, which is the age I’ve just turned, you are in it for the long run. Having someone in your life who forgives you when you slip and does not dare take your friendship for granted is what life is all about.
This is an original New York City Moms Blog post.