Thursday, June 20, 2013

grown-up friends.

{photo by Vivian Maier}

I said goodbye to my first grown-up friend this week. She's embarking on her own adventure this summer, packing her home and moving to Colorado with her family. It feels a little selfish to be so incredibly sad when the opportunity she's been given is so lovely, but I don't lose people close to me very often, and this one hurts. 

It hurts because I found this friendship before I was married, right after I graduated college and started my life in the "real world." We became friends right when I was becoming a grown-up. We met through work, and our friendship has endured many of life's most major changes: marriages, job transfers, in-town moves, mutual friends' goodbyes, babies. 

Hers was the first baby shower I threw, and I remember back to that date two years ago, recalling how nervous I was that we'd lose touch, that a baby would, as I so often heard, change things, and our friendship would end, become one of those passing seasonal friendships rather than a forever one. 

Instead, we grew closer. After those initial difficult weeks of adjustment, we were back to what we'd always been, and as we've watched others leave our transient town, we've relied a lot on the connection that exists between the two of us. We've made time for shopping trips and Seaside visits, for long talks on the couch and walks around the neighborhood.

I look back on the past five years, and it hits me that her friendship came just as I was figuring out who I was. College provides us with lifelong friendships, I know, but it's also a surreal experience, providing us with friends at every corner. These are built-in friendships, the ones you meet through your major or your dorm or your club. You don't have to work as hard for those.

Grown-up friendships? Those you have to fight for. 

We were reminiscing this week over how this close-knit group of girls we've grown close to met. How miraculously it seems we came together, through church and work and book club and mutual acquaintance. So many books are written on the miraculous nature of friendships, but they all seem to be about girls who lived in the same dorm or ran in the same social sphere or magically fit into the same pair of pants. Adult friendships are harder than that; magical, I think, but still requiring intense amounts of effort and work. 

This friend is the last one to leave. One has made her way in Chicago, the other is raising a family in Kansas City. This one will carve an adventure for herself in Boulder, and I laughed this week that each of them got so grand an adventure, while I -- at most -- will move 45 minutes down the road to a Southern town barely a speck on the map. 

It's okay, though. We each, I think, get the adventure we need, and here is the thing I find most comforting of all.

I didn't have a core group of girlfriends in college. I met one lifelong girlfriend who is a treasure, and the others are mutual friends through Jordan, couples I'm sure we'll see through the passing seasons. But I always dreamed I'd have this tight-knit group of kindred spirits, girlfriends I could see each year and feel like no time had passed, friends with mutual memories and the same yesterdays. 

It turns out, I think, that I do have those friendships. I just happened to meet these girls in a book club rather than a university classroom, and I rather like it that way.

I'll travel to Boulder later this summer, to help my friend get settled in her new home and to help her see her new city with excited eyes. In October, I'll gather with this same group of friends, just like we did last year, and it will seem like no time has passed, and I'll be grateful. 

Saying goodbye is hard, but I think it's going to be okay. I am not always good at seasonal friendships. But forever friends? Friends for a lifetime? I am better at those, and I'm hopeful I can maintain these friendships beyond the miles and the seasons. 

I guess what I'm saying is: Grown-up friendships are risky. They're harder, require more time, more vulnerability, more courage. But my experience thus far has been that, like so many things, they are well worth the risk, the extra effort. They're worth the dinner parties and the book clubs, the countless texts and the hurried phone calls. They're worth the lunches out and the quick trips to get yogurt. They're worth spur of the moment plans and vacations months in the making.

If you find good ones, they're worth the work. And often, they're worth the bittersweet goodbye.


Staley Mc said...

Thanks for this post Annie, its so hard to find new friends post-college and then the ones you do find it is hard to keep up and keep it going!

Sabrina said...

I hear Boulder is pretty fantastic! Enjoy your travels there.
Also, it's good to be able to laugh at the irony of life. It is quite ridiculous and random sometimes:)

Erin said...

Adult friends really are so hard to find and keep...and I always love your thoughts on the subject.

Laura said...

Everything you said here is so true. You really do have to fight to make time for adult friendships. They take more effort, more vulnerability, and they're harder to keep up. But they're different, and richer , because we have to work for them. Honestly I think I'm ashamedly better at the seasonal friendships, the ones that are easy and convenient. I am working on being more intentional at keeping up with friends, because like you said, it is so worth it when we do.