Make New Friends, But Keep The Old.
One of the things that sucks about moving to a new city as an adult is that you never run into anyone you knew as a kid. My husband Michael has lived in Los Angeles his whole life, and everywhere we go we bump into people he knew from camp, from elementary school, from his middle school baseball team, and my special favorite, girls he made out with in the sixth grade. The closest I’ve ever come to that is when I was once waiting in the valet line outside of a restaurant, and I overheard a guy say he was from Philadelphia. I asked him where, he asked me where, we determined that I was a few years older than him, and then he asked me if I knew a girl named Risa who went to my high school, because she was the sister of someone he went to camp with. I was like, um, yeah, that’s me. I’d never the met the kid in my life, but we hugged like long lost friends, because when you live in a city where you have no personal history, stuff like that counts.
Which is not to say that I don’t love the friends I’ve made here, because I do. I have a wonderful, supportive, close-knit group of women in my life, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. But they’ve all known each other since middle school or even before, and no matter how close we become, I think I will always feel like somewhat of an outsider with them. I never knew the loser guys they dated in high school, I never saw them with hairsprayed bangs, I don’t know how cool they thought they were in their acid washed Guess? jeans. I know them only as grown ups, as people with jobs and husbands and kids and in-laws, and, more importantly, they only know me that way. Sure, we had some crazy nights in Vegas at each others’ bachelorette parties, but it’s not the same as having line danced at each others’ Bat Mitzvahs.
Recently, I came a across a line that went something like, “the older you get, the more you want to spend time with people who knew you when you were young.” It’s stuck with me, that line, probably because it rings so true. When I’m feeling particularly nostalgic, I’ve been known to stay up late into the night trying to Google ex-boyfriends, old girlfriends, guys I had crushes on at overnight camp, or pretty much anyone who used to hang out in the McDonald’s parking lot on Saturday nights, when there wasn’t anything else to do in our boring little suburb. Sometimes I find somebody and send them an e-mail, trying not to sound stalker-ish or, if it’s a guy, trying not to sound like I’m trolling for dates. Usually, I get an e-mail back with a brief update of the last twenty years and a request to stay in touch!, which, of course, I never do. But over the last few years, I’ve been lucky enough to reconnect, for real, with some of my oldest friends, most of whom I haven’t spoken to since the Reagan administration. Some are living lives similar to my own, like my best friend from high school who has two kids and works part time, while others are living lives that couldn’t be more different, like my dearest friend from camp, who is gay and childless, and whose life is glamorous, spontaneous and sophisticated, or my friend who I’ve known since we were toddlers, who is a vegan and an artist and who rides a bike instead of driving a car.