My son will begin kindergarten in the fall. He said good bye to some of his older classmates last year when their preschool experience came to an end, and he seems up for the adventure. The other day I casually told him that he would make new friends in kindergarten.
He listened thoughtfully, and said, “Yeah! I’ll make new friends in kindergarten!”
“But Mama? I don’t really want new friends. I like my Maple friends.” (Maple is the name of his preschool classroom.)
My heart cracked open a tiny bit when he said that because I know exactly how he feels. Every time I’ve moved somewhere, I’ve resisted making new friends on some level, because I have this assortment of amazing and beautiful friends who live all over the map, and I cannot imagine meeting someone else who can come to mean so much to me.
However, in the six years since I moved to my current hometown, I have made new friends. A total of three, to be specific. I’ve gotton to know three intelligent, lovely, funny, heart-warming women each of whom I could call up in the middle of the night, which in my mind is a strong indicator for a real friendship. Each of them was someone else’s friend first, too, and I realize that our becoming friends strengthens the experience of friendship rather than dilutes it.
I’ve also met a whole bunch of other people whom I truly like and even several women with whom I have a relationship on the brink of friendship but due to the general whirl and tumble of our lives that involves jobs, kids, dogs and weather, we are incapable of taking it beyond the place where it currently lives. And that’s ok with me.
It’s ok because I have my own Maple friends, and they don’t live in my neighborhood. They don’t even live in my state!
My Maple friends live miles and miles away, and a year or longer goes by between visits. But these are the women I count on, if not in my daily life, then in my heart – for their support, encouragement, love and prayers when times are tough, terrific, or anything in between.
I’ve lost a few friends along my way, and while this saddens me, I consider these friendships with a gentle approach. They took a piece of my heart with them when they left, or when I left, or as the relationship simply became a quiet shadow of an experience that once was. The memories of our closeness remain.
I sometimes fantasize about living in a city with all of my closest friends and their families. They would invite their closest friends to join us in this marvelous imaginary community where we could share infinate conversation over steaming cups of coffee and decanters of cherry colored wine, not to mention childcare, dinner and dishes. And then no matter what happened in our busy lives, we would be together.
Then I remember, we already are.
It’s true that my son will make new friends in kindergarten. One day he may not remember his Maple friends.
But I will remember, and as he approaches new relationships, I will remind him that those first friendships pave the way for many others that he will encounter in his lifetime.