Posted by: Hannah | 08/16/2011

in response to “clan”

Bon’s excellent post this week about getting together with old friends came at a time when I was pondering this exact question? phenomenon? On our recent trip to Ontario, we missed out on seeing old friends. Twice. Turns out traveling halfway across Canada by car while pregnant, with two children under six in tow, during the worst heatwave in years, is tiring. Twice I had to cancel tentative but looked-forward-to plans to meet up with friends from university because I physically couldn’t move one more step. Back home, and although we are putting down tentative rootlets in our community, volunteering and meeting people and trying hard to establish ourselves here, we don’t have any good friends in this neighbourhood yet.

This past year I lost a friend, in the most mundane way possible – we grew apart, and although I tried to maintain the relationship and I think she did too, it didn’t work. I decided to stay home, she went back to work full time, and while that shouldn’t have been any kind of a wedge somehow, it was. She took up running and got lots of fit, athletic friends with more disposable income and one child and no minivan and whammo; we didn’t have much in common anymore, and the space between got bigger and bigger until neither one of us knew how to bridge that gap. The last time I tried, I called her up one day to chat and she said she was too busy just then, but that she’d call me on the weekend. That was in March I think? and I haven’t heard from her since.

Here in Halifax I only really have one girlfriend. She’s wonderful, and I can call her up anytime, and I’m grateful to have her. It would be nice if I could clone her. I have some great friends that I’ve met online, but our lives are busy and we’re just far enough apart that getting together more than once or twice a year is impractical.

I feel the lack. I remember how many friends I had in high school, and I wonder how I ever conquered my innate shyness and low self-esteem long enough to meet those people.

Which brings me to this summer.

Fellow I went to high school with recently moved back to the area from another province, bringing his entirely lovely wife and two very young children. He and I always got along well – we had several classes together and were both in the school band – but we ran in different circles. He was kind of like Ferris Bueller, now that I think about it; he knew everyone, didn’t have a single enemy so far as I’m aware, had all the teachers eating out of his hand, and was the social director for the school (literally and figuratively; I’m pretty sure he was in charge of planning all school dances). In high school, I’d have given my left arm to get invited to one of his house parties – not because I was a drinker, I wasn’t, but just because I wanted so badly to belong.

Since he moved back, we’ve been to his house twice, and more visits are planned. Our kids get along. It’s been nice. There is a shorthand there for him and I; we grew up in the same area, know the same people, were shaped by those early experiences in rural Nova Scotia and couldn’t wait to get back to it when we started having our families. It’s starting to feel comfortable, if not in the effortless way that Bon describes, but in a way I’ve missed with all the (admittedly wonderful!) people I’ve met in university and beyond.

There’s just something about spending time with people from home that smooths out the kinks.

This friend of mine is still playing social director. Ever wonder what Ferris Bueller turned out like, at 33? Little paunch. Bald spot. Still with a huge roster of friends. Still hosting barbeques. I’m invited now, which I find funny and a little strange. People who didn’t say hi to me in the old days greet me with hugs, because I’m a familiar face I guess, because they too feel that need to spend time with people who knew them when. When we finished high school we all scattered to the four winds, leaving for better schooling, for better opportunities; like George Bailey, we were going to “shake the dust of this crummy old town off our feet and see the world!”

Then we all came back.

 

 

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Responses

  1. Despite the facebook counter, I’ve only kept one friend from my home town. I’ve known her since we were 3. She’s always been my constant. We’d veer off on our own, then come back together. Usually when we felt we were losing ourselves. We see each other once a year and doing that requires plane tickets and road trips but we do it without hesitation. The time we’re together, even if only an hour, erases instantly the time we were apart.
    The other old friend I have is one from university days. He and his family have become very close friends, but he doesn’t live in our town either. I have been making good friends locally, but they aren’t old friends. There is nothing quite like an old friend.

  2. This is lovely. I haven’t kept in touch with anyone from school – having moved seven times before the age of 15 and two provinces and a language away since high school. I am envious of both your and Bon’s connection with original friends

    In response to my circumstances, we set out deliberately to create a stable small town history for our son. The side effect of being newcomers in a small community is that it is indeed slow to build friendships, but it does happen, my current female friends are other mothers I met when our 16-17 yr sons were in preschool activities together.

    And of course our sons who “know” everyone here, can’t wait to leave this boring place.

  3. ah, yes. the people who weren’t exactly friends but became cherished and familiar simply by virtue of long acquaintance and their openness. we had one of those – a girl i went to high school with, a year younger than me, lovely & well-connected but never close – move back almost two years ago. she’s been huge in opening our social circle here, even though we were back four years earlier.

    i hope Ferris turns out to be the same kind of wonderful, comfortable connection over the long run for you guys.

  4. That’s so fortunate, and I think you’re right, that old connections somehow smooth the bumps.

  5. The first part of this post is heart breaking because I know how you feel. In the grand scheme of things, Edmonton isn’t that far away, but it feels like another planet. I have a few tried and true friends here and I have family in Calgary, but I miss my home friends (some of whom are still in Halifax) and I miss my home. Also, I miss people who were just acquaintences until I got to know them better online.

    I’m glad you’ve been able to reconnect with an old classmate 🙂

  6. I’m so glad for you that Ferris is back in town!

    I love friends from childhood. I only have a few and I cherish them. My best friend I have known since I was 3, but didn’t become close to until we were 17. My husband’s best friend has been the same since he was 5, and I think that is awesome.

    In my early 20’s I realised that I am someone who is happiest with at least three really good friends. I like being involved in people’s lives and having them involved in mine, so over the years as we’ve moved (10 times in the first 10 years of marriage) and changed jobs and study and such I’ve made a concerted effort to develop and maintain at least three close relationships at any given time. Due to circumstances and (most of all) time, the three that I am most in contact with can vary.

    I hope that as you continue to put down roots you’ll find more people you really connect with.

  7. I keep wondering if I should maybe move home with the girls (you kno that nostalgia tug) and wonder if I’d suddenly end up friends with the people I didn’t much care for, then. I see old friends on facebook connecting with other people and I think “seriously? THEM? Drinking? Bowling?” but I guess there is that need for commonality, for that bond.

    And man, I’m usually that chick who doesn’t call back. When life gets busy, people are the first to be dropped. sadly 😦

  8. I have exactly zero friends from school – any school. However, as I said on Bon’s post, I often envy people who have a circle of friends that lasts the ages.

  9. […] have lost friends since I decided to work at home. I have gotten into family rows on Facebook because, you know, […]


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