Make new friends but keep the old; One is silver and the other’s gold.
I learned that song in Brownies and it must have made a lot of sense to me as a 7-year-old because I have friends from prior chapters of my life. My best friend from 6th grade is someone I can rely on always to be there for me. Other best friends in now far away former places I have lived maintain contact through the joy side of the Internet and we sometimes get to visit in person.
When I first joined Graham he was taking a six-month sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado and we made some wonderful friends there. Anne and Barring just left this morning after two very full days to continue their summer exploration of the Pacific Northwest before returning home. In the seven years since we left Colorado to return to West Virginia we have seen them twice and after basely skimming the surface of the wonderful attributes of the Willamette Valley on this short visit, they promise they will return to Oregon again.
It is difficult for some people to make friends. Some simply because they don’t recognize the signs of a mutual interest that could serve as a base for deeper communication and friendship. Friendship is not an instantaneous event and although I may have almost 300 “friends” on Facebook, many are people I have never met but we connected over some commonality. Whether that relationship builds to a true friendship will only be borne out over time. A few I think might; several others are not probable and the majority are in between. Being realistic of the term “friend” on Facebook is a sign of maturity.
It is also difficult for many people to maintain friendships when someone moves. I once worked for a wonderful woman who I am sure I will not offend at this moment because I sincerely doubt she reads anything I write now. I made a decision to move that had nothing to do with her. She maintained contact for less than six months, and then, silence to every email, letter and phone call I made. It leaves me wondering how she is, and what the hell happened? But I have to leave it behind. It was, after all, her choice.
This Patty Loveless song may sum up the pain many people feel when someone leaves. For those, the pain of the leaving may get confused with anger at the person who left instead of maintaining contact.
The internet and many cell phone plans make it easier than ever before for long distance friendship to continue. They are different, of course, then when people live proximal, but as my friend in New Jersey and these recent visitors from Colorado show, when there is love, there can be continuance. Forever. And so, I am wealthy beyond measure.