I spent the morning working on writing a toast for my friend’s wedding coming up in May; the speech was easy to write because I love my friend and her fiance and filled it with gushing and love. I left it feeling nostalgic.
Somewhere along the way this morning I became lost in internet speech-making advice, rambling wedding gift lists, and this article, “Why Does Friendship Get So Much Harder When We’re Older?”
I don’t disagree with the article; there are so many more difficulties and distractions added on to adult life that can complicate friendship. Especially living abroad, my friends and I are certainly very far apart, and certainly talk less. Yet.
There is something so great about friendship as we get older.
There is an ease that comes with seeing old friends that doesn’t go away. My closest friends have been with me since the beginning of college or even earlier, through switching majors and full-time jobs during school and illnesses and breakups and engagements and marriage. And when we were younger it wasn’t as if we were living in a bubble of happiness. As an adult life gets difficult, but it has also always been a little difficult. Things aren’t always charmed, haven’t always been and certainly won’t always be. I’m so thankful for the people in my life who are there and have been there.
I have great friends in Korea, and am so grateful for the opportunity to get to know wonderful people in beautiful places around the world, but there’s something about the people who have known me (and who I have known) for 8-10-12 years. I imagine it’s similar to what it’s like to be a parent and look at your child’s face and still see the smushy baby face somewhere in there. When I look at my old friends there are layers of understanding that come from being in a friendship for such a long time that allow for nuance and discussion and background explanations just to be skipped over, and it’s easy to just be right there with them.
It’s a comfort to be in the same room with these people.
When I went home over Christmas there was a quick 48 hour window where my two best friends and I were able to be in the same country together for the first time in eighteen months. Gone were the days of pulling in mattresses to sleep on the floor in the same dorm room, or piling up in twin beds, or meeting in the living room for quesadillas and Friday night drinks and Netflix binges. Yet, there we were, 8 years later, curled up in a hotel room eating a room-service quesadilla.
In her article, Kelsey writes,
I also enjoy the way the friendships I have hung onto have deepened and changed over time, whether it’s planning trips to visit far flung loved ones, or upping my snail mail game. There’s something very satisfying about realizing that, occasionally, if you met a particular childhood friend today, you like the person she grew into so much that you’d scheme a way to ask her to happy hour tomorrow.
There is something satisfying about loving the people our friends have grown into, the changes they have made and the bits of their personalities that have been chiseled into new and interesting shapes. The giant space in between visits now has pulled those changes into sharp relief. Each time I see my friends and family back home I’m reminded by all the tiny differences how long I have been gone, and at the same time reminded why we are still such good friends. They are wonderful people, and they keep becoming slightly different but equally (dare I say even more?) beautiful human beings.
As we have gotten older together, it is as if we have been filling books and books and books on our experiences. A decade later we have filled novels with our travels, our chats, our scheduled phone calls, our silly photos, the slow roll-out of outcomes to every dream we had. It is so cool to see the women my friends have become, to see them become wives and teachers and mothers and engineers and social workers and caretakers. It’s amazing to see them resiliently overcoming obstacles and making it through every trying thing thrown their way, to see them be strong and proud and be themselves, years and years later.
Only getting older can do this.
I wish I could find a way to go to happy hour every night with my friends back home and still be here. I wish I could be everywhere, hauling my best friends and family with me and make life one giant vacation. Getting older hasn’t made friendship harder, but being very far away has made it harder on me.
I am so thankful to have come across such beautiful, loving, brave people. I am so grateful to have had the chance to see them grow over years and years. I love you friends. I will see you soon.