The gifts of friendship in my 40th year

The gifts of friendship in my 40th year

Everyday there’s a Facebook post about friendship. Sometimes its about college friends, sometimes high school buddies and there are even ones about ‘un-friending’ people. Seems there’s much to be written in even short bursts about stories of friendships. I’ve been lucky.

Throughout forty years on the planet, there have been people beside me. Some have flitted in and out of life as quickly as a firefly lights up a night’s sky and others have stayed for decades at a time like that comfy sweatshirt you always choose from the back of the cupboard. Each one has had a purpose. This year, I find myself quite pensive. Thoughts of life changes, challenges, growth, choices and friendships have popped into the forefront of my mind more times than I can count. Is this forty? Is it a time when you take stock of people, choices and things in your life? Is it normal? Does it happen to other people? I haven’t taken a poll-but I’ve been taking stock, for certain. It’s been a big year.

A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow. – William Shakespeare

In January, I officially resigned from a teaching career. Blogging, writing, travel consulting, and wedding/event planning took center stage and a career change took shape. Life in Long Beach, NY is now different. I can see the world through projects (as I did with all the extra-curriculars in school) with their beginnings and endings. The alarm clock ceases to blare at an hour starting with a five and I am no longer exhausted everyday. I even have time for yoga. Life changed.

It’s been a big year. For those of us who graduated high school in the era of scrunchies, EG socks and Farlow jeans or college at the start of Clinton’s second term when the Internet was just beginning and we were lucky to get an AOL address with our name in it-this year has been something. In today’s world of Facebook posts, LinkedIn requests, Twitter feeds and Internet overload-this year we turn forty.

I find myself reflecting a lot. Remember simpler times when no one checked their email a zillion times a day and everyone knew each other’s phone numbers? Scents or songs jar me back in time where I’m standing at a spot on my university campus or reliving a sleep-away camp summer. Peers have all chosen to celebrate differently; some choosing for a large-scale gala while others stole a few days away with their significant other. Either way, in 2014, the babes of 1974 turn forty. I imagine it happens at every year and in every decade-but it’s hard to believe it’s here and now for us.

The language of friendship is not words but meanings. ~Henry David Thoreau

We have more smile lines than we did at thirty and far more aches and pains than we did when we turned twenty. There are those who are now parents of teens, many who have moved within and out of the country, those who have furthered our education and sadly, many of us who have been touched by sadness. We’ve been through presidents, tragedies, and graduations and have seen the comings and goings of cultural television icons in 90210, Friends and Sex in the City. We’ve traded in our champion sweats for yoga pants and our Justin boots for more comfortable flip flops and through it all we have shared stories and memories that stand the test of time.

“There’s not a word yet, for old friends who’ve just met.” ― Jim Henson

I’ve been lucky. I still have that high school friend to chat with about Battle of the Classes and Sing. She remembers our middle school picnics, sharing fruit loops with me in Spanish class and all those late nights teaching dance moves and preparing for Senior Show. I have those youth group friends who remember parties at my house, spending weekends together and every minute of Regional Convention. There are camp friends who stood up for me at my wedding who can finish each memory, recite the words to every song and recount the tales of all of our love lives. There are those university friends who helped me roll out of bed for those 8am classes, took me out for my 21st birthday and continue to encourage me to take leaps I might be otherwise inclined to skip. Work friends of all sorts have helped me through the last two decades-whether at a summer or year ‘round job they’re the ones who see you every day and show up with that bar of dark chocolate when the day just seems to never end! There are even those travel friends who I’ve been lucky enough to pick up along the way on a trip to Australia, at the pool in Cancun, on a bus in Africa, a hotel lobby in Germany, over s’mores in New York and of course that husband of mine on a ferry in New Zealand.

There are countless quotes about friendship and memories over months and years. I get it and I always have. At this point in our lives, we’ve seen too many people not make it to the next birthday for one reason or another and we remember them, always. Friends are to be cherished and ones that stand the test of time are very special. Twenty-five days from now is my fortieth birthday. For those who know me, all I’ve ever wanted on my birthday is for people to remember. No big fanfare or fireworks-usually it’s toes in the sand and a couple of cupcakes, but what makes it special is the people. Those special people who take a second out of their busy days and lives to take a moment and share a thought with you-that’s what’s special to me.

A friend accepts us as we are yet helps us to be what we should. ~Author Unknown

This year, more than many before, I find myself thinking. Thinking of where I am, how I got here, what’s next, who I share stories with, how I want to spend my days and who we’re all becoming is on my mind often. This year alone I’ve switched jobs, traveled, caught up with friends from years past, relaxed with my husband, wiggled my toes in the sand and smiled a lot. It’s a special year. A few weeks ago my three camp friends and I sat around a table to celebrate our fortieth year. We’ve been friends for over thirty years and couldn’t be more different. Bonds of our youth began our friendship and through life’s twists and turns we’re still together. I looked around that table of four women whose lives have taken different paths but who have shared so very much. Friendships mean so very many different things. I do believe that people come into our lives for a reason. At various times we look for different things in our friendships. Fifteen looks different than twenty-five and it’s definitely different than thirty-nine. No matter what it looks like, I count myself lucky to have those people in my life today.

So much of me is made of what I learned from you. You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart. And now whatever way our stories end-I know you’ll have rewritten mine by being my friend. -For Good, Wicked

2 responses »

  1. What a beautiful post and I can imagine how special to those who are in your life now, or have been – and read how appreciative you are of time spent with you. Really lovely!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Molly. I’m so glad you liked the post. I too hope that those who read it know that I feel so very lucky to have/have had them in my life for whatever the reason and however long the time. Life, and friendships are very precious. Thanks for reading. Safe and happy travels. Cheers, Stacey

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