When I started school (Billingsville Road Runners!) I met some new friends. Peter and Peiffer, Megan and Anne. At least two Jennifers. Years later, I walked across the graduation stage at East Mecklenburg High School with those same friends, plus all the rest of the good people that we encountered along the way. All the things I learned, I learned with them. Every new school I started, I started with them. I rode to cotillion with Megan, Anne and Blair. I went to a prom with Peter. The warm, kind and consistent presence of my friends (and their families) shaped my whole childhood. And adolescence. And in some ways the person that I am now.
We had it good and we took for granted. People stayed put — we had all those many years together. In my memory (which I’m sure is faulty), my Charlotte friends had moms who stayed home and dads with the same jobs for thirty years. We made new friends sometimes, but were fortunately not to lose them too often. These days, families take many different shapes both personally and professionally. It seems way more common to change jobs and to move for those jobs. I work full time and I moved to Vermont, for pete’s sake. Life is strange.
I got a “we’re moving!” email from a close friend this week. It’s my second or third big one in Vermont. Of course I’m thrilled for the happy events and opportunities that take my dear friends away from Middlebury. But selfishly, I hate to lose them. It takes a long time to work up to making a real friend. We don’t have junior high to suffer through together, or high school to bond over, or hours and hours to talk about nothing. But it turns out that grown up adventures can pull you plenty close together. A move feels traumatic. It leaves a hole in my little community that, based on past experience, never really heals. It’s so hard to say goodbye or even “see you soon” to the people who really matter to us.
Moves happen, and after moves, we rely on phones, emails, text and (shudder) Facebook to stay close, but there’s always a worry that it won’t be the same. Days and weeks get busy. Even short distances can seem hard to bridge. Being a friend takes a lot of different forms, but it always take effort. And over distance, even more so.
I hope that John has an experience like mine – with friends he grows up with right through college. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. And I hope to have the adult version of the same. I’d like many, many years with the friends I’ve made here in Vermont. I know that’s not always possible, but I hope for it anyway. So friends who are here: stay. Friends who have to go, or who’ve gone already: call me. I’ll be here.