“The Best Mirror is an Old Friend”
As I sat with my friend P for a quick impromptu dinner the other night we chatted about her mom who has dementia. The sad thing she said is that most of her mom’s friends whom she talked to every day are gone. I sat back and sighed and thought about this for a moment and quickly said. “I hope I’m the first to go out of our group. I couldn’t bear to say good bye to any of you.” I have been friends with my crew for 50 years. Most are from grammar school and a few from high school and even one I met on her wedding day over 30 days as I was a date of one of her groomsmen. One is a friend since in vitro. Her mom and my mom were friends growing up and were both pregnant with us the same time.
These are the people who will remind you who you really are. They know your soul, your true being. They know you even after life has knocked you down, twisted you up, or sent you half way around the country. They know you. They remember who you wanted to be, who you tried to be and who you ended up to be. And they love you no matter what.
Some of us over the years took a break from the friendship. Some of us never left. Again 50 years of friendship. We endured boyfriend mistakes, husband mistakes, pregnancies, siblings dying, parents dying, spouses dying, illness, multiple marriages and the list goes on and on.
Right after high school we started Girls Club. We were insistent to stay in touch. So once a month back then we would make sure we got together to catch up. When we were young it was all about the drinking and having a great time. Maybe meet at a restaurant, or who am I kidding, usually a bar. Then one by one we got engaged and married. Standing up to weddings or going to one was the norm for a few years in our 20s. Our girls club then took on a new persona. It was a monthly outing at someone’s new place. We ate more than we drank. Babies started coming and our conversations and club took on a whole new meaning. Baby showers were abundant. Some of us even were godparents to each other’s kids. Years went on and we did outings with our children because we wanted them to all be close. Everyone is Auntie so and so. No formalities. More like family. Once a year we would venture out to Santa’s Village and dress all of our kids in the same shirt so it was easy to find them. Not sure who enjoyed the amusement park more. Us or them. Some started moving to other parts of the area and a few to other states. That didn’t matter to us, we knew once a month we were going to see each other no matter what. As kids grew older Girls Club once again took on a new meaning. It was a night out and a night away from responsibility. This time it was wine instead of shots. And of course always food!! (Most of us are Italian so food was never lacking) Marriages started to crumble or needed work. Some of us were climbing the corporate ladder and needed a little push. Kids had issues going on and we all tried to help. We even had a club game called Asshole of the month. You had to nominate your husband or boyfriend for that honor and then we all voted who it should be that month. Life started taking different turns for some of us. But through everything we stuck together.
I talk to a few friends every day before work at like 6:30 am. We have group texts that can go on for hours. We support each other’s children at birthday parties, graduation parties and wedding parties. We’ve seen plays, dance recitals and football games for each other’s children. We are Facebook friends with our friend’s children. We are the lending ear if they have a problem that they want an opinion on before telling their mom. That’s how close we are after 50 years.
So how come some people have these kinds of lasting friendships and others don’t? So many people tell us you are all so lucky to have that. To me it’s just natural. Couldn’t survive any other way. I have met people at work who don’t see any old friends that they grew up with. Sounds sad to me. Some of us go to Florida once a year on a girl’s trip. We have been doing this for a long time. It is a week with just us. No husbands, boyfriends, kids or dogs. We even meet women in the pool who ask us about our friendship. So are we the norm or the exception? We are never our age in Florida. We are still the same girls who flipped through Cosmo magazines and hung in someone’s basement while trying beer or cigarettes for the first time. Our jaws hurt when we leave from laughing all week. Sometimes we cry and stay up late to discuss serious matters while eating ice cream.
My parents have friends from earlier years in their lives and so do my aunts and uncles. So is it genetic in a crazy kind of way? My daughter is 26 and her best friend is the same girl from when she was 5. Will she be lucky enough to keep the 50 year streak going? I believe so.
But back to the quote. The best mirror is an old friend. Just sit and think about it. It is so true.