Yesterday anne_mommy made a comment about motherhood and creative projects that ended like this: "I haven't lost anything. It's just different." Yes. Definitely. And that made me think of something one of you asked three weeks ago now, when I was having my sleep-dep study. She said, "I'd like to hear your philosophy on friendship, or at least your inklings on friendship." The piece that made me link the two was when someone asked me, regarding two of my close friends getting married to each other, whether I didn't feel I'd lost something as well as gained something.
So here's what I think: we get our past to build on, but not to keep. You never, ever get to have your old friendship back -- even if it was just the old friendship from yesterday, when you meant to call but didn't find the time -- or when you thought you didn't have the time but somehow found it, or whatever it is you did.
When two of my favorite people from college, gaaldine and the_overqual, got romantically involved and eventually married each other, things changed with us. Of course they did. But if they hadn't -- if they'd gone on to meet other partners, or to stay single -- things would also have changed with us. Because that's what things do: they change. It is how life goes.
So if you have a friendship that lasts, it kind of accretes. You end up with someone who gets a tag like "old friend since junior high" in casual conversation, but if you really put all the attributes on it, it would end up longer than the geek code, down to "...and we used to talk about every two weeks on the phone but now we e-mail, mostly during the day, either long chunks a couple times a week or back-and-forth a few sentences daily, and sometimes we talk about...." It contains all the stuff that used to be there -- in this non-random scottjames example, it would contain "junior high math geeks together" -- but that doesn't mean we have to stay junior high math geeks. (Good thing, too.)
Sometimes a friendship descriptor gets "for years" tacked onto it: "We've been meeting for coffee and to talk about our families for years." "We've been lending each other books for years." But it isn't the same thing to be friends who are meeting for coffee now as friends who are now and have done so for years. Staying the same is a change, too. My grandparents are different people for having argued about cowboy boots for nearly fifty-seven years now than they were for arguing about cowboy boots fifty-seven years ago.
Someone also asked me what scares and comforts me regarding change. For me, this is like asking what scares and comforts me regarding gravity. I can come up with a few things like, "Errr...I like sticking to the planet all right, and having atmosphere stick to the planet, and having a planet...all those things are good...but falling down is bad, and I don't like plane crashes...." But for the most part it's a very basic assumption of life. Change is like that, to my way of thinking. When we explode in frustration that nothing has changed in months, we don't really mean that: we're more frustrated because whatever the situation is has gone on for months, and it hadn't before. Or if we sigh happily that we had old friends in town and it was as though nothing had changed, that isn't really what we mean either -- what we mean is that the elements we liked before have been preserved despite the changes obvious to everyone involved. In the former case, we're more frustrated because of the change, and in the latter, probably happier, but in either case, having things come out the same at a different time is change.
It's like gravity. You work with it, or you fall flat on your face (or sometimes, unfortunately, both). And if you fall flat on your face, you pick yourself up and keep going, and sometimes friendship is about that, too.