Last night, some old friends had us over for dinner, a long walk (for some of us) and the watching of True Blood (for others of us). There’s something about being with friends of 30 years that smooths the edges of life with great humor, affection and easy understanding. There’s little awkwardness about helping in tiny ways with dinner, talking at length and in rampages about confusing topics, teasing one another, and making quick references to stories we hold for each other.
We met these friends so long ago — over 35 years for Ken and 30 for me — when we were way younger, thinner, more confident in some ways and far less in others. Back at a time when our little group coupled and uncoupled, slept in puppy piles, experiments with careers and other substances, stayed up all night for no good reason, we amused ourselves by occasionally denouncing sugar, caffeine, cynicism, our parents, white flour, the government and one another for being too pushy, sensitive, possessive or spacey.
We also planned, organized, mobilized, implemented, started and maintained a whole lot of ecological and cultural happenings and life-changing events, at least life-changing for us. Through long discussions, (wo)manning tables at fairs, late nights doing bulk mailings, great drives to beautiful places we would learn and fall in love with, and navigations through burn-out and inspiration, we changed our lives in such ways that allowed us to become more of who we truly are.
This is all a way of saying I owe everything to my old friends, the ones who knew me way-back-when and still know me best, who celebrate and mourn with me, who take long walks along the river at sunset while sharing old or new gossip or stories within stories we hadn’t yet heard. They’re also the ones who feed me — last night, chicken gravy, potatoes, stir-fry veggies, salad and watermelon, but also and often a wider sense of the world we make within and around our tribe.
We used to joke and vow that we would grow old together, and now — in our 50s and 60s — we’re doing just that, still vowing and joking in the lush and shining dark and bright and lingering light. I’m grateful to my old friends for everything that has been and all that’s to come.