Sunday, April 25, 2004

Childhood Friends

I was blessed with great childhood friendships.

Two weekends ago, I attended the wedding of one such friend, someone I knew since elementary school. He invited a few other childhood friends, so the order of the weekend was nostalgia. Who remembers what happened to whom?

Since I've known some of these people since grade school, the ties are especially strong. In an old diary, I wrote that old childhood friends are like fine leather gloves. Even if you don't wear them for years, they still easily form a natural fit around your hand. The gloves are creased in the right places. They're easy to put on.

I often ponder a theory that as we get older, it's easier to make friends. When you get past college, you've often learned "how to get close" to people. We've learned how to be direct, and how to ask meaningful questions. One long evening of talking is enough to form some good bonds.

Childhood friendships are different from college and post-college friendships. Childhood friendships start out very haphazardly. You're next to someone in homeroom. You live close to them in the neighborhood. These friendships are tested during the high years of peer pressure and puberty. Childhood friendships are formed at an impressionable age, and an age when parents can still be a strong influence. More importantly, they're formed when we all had time; long stretches of time, in which you can learn about your friends playing tag, going over their house, watching movies, or making iced tea.

If you were lucky, you grew up with your childhood friends. You tested one another in your attempts to broaden yourself beyond your comfort zone. You provided checks on one another. And as you made new friends, you "tested" them against your old friends. Before you know it, you pass the mile markers of life with them: school proms, driver's licenses, college, first jobs, marriage, children, baptisms, anniversaries.

I don't often put on the fine gloves that are my childhood friends anymore. But recalling the warmth of those gloves, the warmth of those friendships, is enough to make me smile broadly. I had a great childhood thanks to these friends. I was glad to be in that warmth two weekends ago.

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