The last time I saw them was in August of 2000. I attended my friend Sara's wedding, and just about everyone with whom I'd grown close in the final year and a half of college was there. The next day I packed up my car and moved to Pittsburgh. And...that was it. Some would say we all "fell out of touch," and to some extent that's true, but there is usually a reason for falling, and in this case, I think it had at least something to do with my laziness and my incapacity to appreciate the value of others and my extremely focused view on myself and all the new, exciting things in my life as I started graduate school and worked myself into the new city. I can't say those dear friends didn't try to get my attention; I can say that I did a really bad job of letting them know I appreciated it, and I probably truly did not appreciate it as much as I really should have. The old song lines come to mind: "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."
Over the course of the past year or so, I've been increasingly convicted that I need to invest time and serious effort in building and maintaining friendships. I've been quite ungood at this for a long time, and it's taking me a while to become at all willing to actually do this. However, by making a conscious effort to call or email or have dinner with various friends old and new, I've been amazed at how much there is to know about them! In addition, I've been surprised by how happy most of them were to hear from me or to spend an afternoon together; I'm not saying I was surprised that they enjoyed being with me - I don't have that low of self-esteem (and, I also am not as conceited as that statement may sound) - but I guess I hadn't realized just how important communicating, "I pick you to spend time with!" is to certain folks. I often assume it's only me who feels this way! :)
So, today a few questions come to my mind...
- Is it ever too late to re-start a friendship? It feels exceedingly weird and semi-embarrassing to type up an email and say, "Er...hi...I know I have totally ignored you for the past four years, but...it's me...how are you?" Is it sometimes better to just say, "Ah well, I guess that's over?"
- Should one put a limit on how large his/her circle of friends becomes? I mean, if you have 30 friends, and you call or spend time with one of them every day, you still only have contact with them once a month! And what if that number grows to...365? You'd either have to host very large parties, participate in conference calls, or lose your career and start being a professional friend!
- In light of that last question, let's assume a person chooses to limit the number of friends he/she actively pursues. Then, how does one decide which individuals to "keep around" and which ones to leave by the way-side? Is there any logic to this, or is it completely emotional? For example, I can immediately make a mental list of the top six people I'd like to keep in my "friends group," and three of them are because I've known them a long time, two are because how deeply well I am known by them, and the other is solely because I am highly attracted to the particular individual! Are those legitimate reasons? What about the value of the friend who has wise advice for me or who helps me stay the course when work gets annoying or who always has the addresses of the people I can't seem to keep track of?