You are with me and I am with you.

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Last September, with two of these friends

I am off to spend this weekend with my dearest friends.  We met when we were 18, which means we have now known each other more than half of our lives.  We are all the same age.  We are walking through life together.  They are among the closest witnesses to my own life’s bumps, difficulties, and triumphs.  Though each of our paths is different – and have taken us as far away as London and Beijing – what we share is a genuine respect for each others’ choices and the ingrained knowledge that comes from having shared what were for me at least the most formative years of my life.

We have gathered in groups big and small over the years since college, to celebrate weddings and baptisms and to mourn deaths and divorces.  We have shared achievements large (graduate degrees) and small (children sleeping through the night – though you could argue this is not small) with each other.  We have marched in orange costumes down the central road of the campus where we all met, we have closed down more dance floors than I can count, we have all seen each other cry.  We have been each others’ bridesmaids, wingmen, and the godparents of each other’s children.  We have shared clothes, recipes, book suggestions, frantic check-in emails on the morning of 9/11 (that transcript still makes many of us cry), and many bottles of wine.  We have been on the receiving end of each others’ affection, ire, and a singing telegram dressed up as a baby.

This weekend is now the fourth annual (I wrote about it in 2010and 2012) reunion of this kind.

I have long maintained that who our closest friends are says a lot about who we are.  And on that dimension, I’m off the charts lucky.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me the further we get from college the more I value these women.  We met at the top of a fulcrum, poised at the very beginning of adulthood, on the cusp of our real lives.  Now we are inarguably adults.  We have made that transition together and are sharing adulthood’s startling joys and confounding darkness.  Each of our skies contains a unique constellation of children and spouses and homes and careers and parents and loves and heartbreaks and memories, but they are all full.  Perhaps most of all, we can each recognize – and celebrate – the glitter of each others’ stars.

It is with these women that I feel most at home and most truly seen.  That doesn’t mean I always feel confident around them: I don’t.  In fact I wonder, all the time, why women as remarkable as these would choose me as a friend.  But I feel safe, and loved, and known.  Our shared history – both deep and wide – is an integral part of the foundation on which my entire life is built.

I’ve written before about how certain moments in our lives particularly lend themselves to developing friendships.  This has been true for me and I value immensely the friends who are woven into our daily lives; the friends around me here who pick my kids up and drive them to practice, the friends who know to ask when I’ve had a doctor’s appointment, the friends whose children are growing up alongside mine, the friends to whom I’ve brought a potpie and a bottle of wine when they got home from the hospital with a new baby or after surgery.

But there’s something unique about the friends who’ve known you since way back when, before you were a mother, a wife, an MD or an MBA, a PTA president, a published author, a partner at a consulting firm, or a successful literary agent.  Friends who chose you as a friend when you were just you, in an LL Bean plaid flannel shirt, a pair of baggy Patagonia shorts, and a baseball cap.  Friends can tell you what your wrote your senior thesis on, remember that one night you drank too much bad white wine junior year, know who it is you first truly fell in love with, know what you called your grandparents (and met them), and with whom you speak in abbreviations and shorthand so complex that other people think you’re speaking another language.

These friends know who you are now, but they also know who you were.  This weekend, it is those intertwined years that I celebrate, and the women who have shared them with me.  Two and a half years ago I wrote this, and it’s still true:

I can feel you all next to me, your lives flanking mine, my first and most essential peer group.  We have traveled together into careers, graduate schools, marriages, motherhood.  Together we will face the aging of our parents and the growing up of our children.  We have more funerals ahead of us than behind, which is a thought both maudlin and unavoidably true.  We also have, I trust, myriad happy reunions, both formal and informal (thank you Allison, for Homosassa 2010!).  We have the joy of knowing each others’ children and spouses, and of watching each other flourish.  The road is not as linear as I might have imagined all those years ago, when I felt the future sturdy, beating next to me like a heartbeat.  Instead our paths loop forward and back, double into unexpected switchbacks, but of this I am certain: you are with me and I am with you.  Always, no matter what.


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14 Comments

  1. Posted September 25, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I love this. There is something so crucial about having friends, as you said, who not only know who we are now, but who we were. I’ve known my best friend since the sixth grade, and even though we now live on opposite coasts, our connection is imperishable. I hope you have a wonderful time this weekend!! xoxo

  2. Posted September 25, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    This made me cry, but happy tears. I am so very grateful for my two BFF’s who’ve been there, almost from the beginning. I’m going to share this with Marcie, my friend since the fourth grade & Michele, who we met in high school, at one of our first jobs – we were all hostesses at our local dinner theater. I love them as if they were my sisters!

  3. Posted September 25, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Lovely lovely lovely. I cannot wait. (And are those my feet? Ew! I forgive you because the writing underneath is so perfect!) xo

    admin Reply:

    I did not identify specific feet, you will notice! :)

  4. Posted September 25, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    The photo speaks volumes. Beautiful volumes. Perfect complement to your loving tribute to enduring friendship. Have a wonderful weekend with your soulmates.

  5. Posted September 25, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful ode to a particular breed of friendship. I feel so lucky to call YOU a friend. xox

  6. Jenni
    Posted September 25, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Having friends like these means you are a good friend.

    I have always dreamed of having relationships like this, but because of poor choices I made in the past I don’t have close relationships like this at 38.

    Do I have good friends now – yes. I am thankful and I work hard to keep these friendships strong through careers and kids and, well, life, to create a history with these ladies.

    Not having close friends from my childhood/college days is one of my life regrets. I try not to dwell – we all have them.

    You are blessed and what is so wonderful is that you know it and are appreciative.

  7. Posted September 25, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Amen to this: “But there’s something unique about the friends who’ve known you since way back when, before you were a mother, a wife, an MD or an MBA, a PTA president, a published author, a partner at a consulting firm, or a successful literary agent. ”

    It is so so so special and important. Have a wonderful time! I’m sure the conversation will be amazing and that feeling of comfort and not always having to have conversation will be amazing too.

  8. Dana
    Posted September 25, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful Lindsey. You are so blessed. Enjoy the weekend.

  9. Posted September 26, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    There’s a gate into Harvard Yard from the Science Center that says, “in memory of dear old times.” It’s right by both my old freshman dorm, and the dorm of my best college friend, whom I’ve been in contact with every month of my life for, help! 38 years.

    In the circle of life department, it makes me irrationally happy that my newly-minted college grad, striking out on his own, had a standing social engagement this past summer that he called “Wildcat Wednesdays,” where he and his buddies from the Buddy Werner ski racing program get together for beers. Friends for life! And future Wildcat weekend program coaches! Warms my heart.

  10. Posted September 26, 2013 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I do hope you have fun! I have friends I get away with twice a year – and it’s coming up in 15 days! Here’s to girlfriends!

  11. Posted September 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I loved this article. I ended up posting it on my blog highlighting “My Favorite Five Articles of the Week”, as well as my best, long time girlfriend’s Facebook page.
    It appears we are the same age, going through similar seasons with kids, life, etc. Your gift with words has hit home in many ways.

    Much thanks,

    Katherine (maintainingwonder.com)

  12. Posted September 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful, Lindsey. I love this. Yes, my friends from way back are treasures I savor the time with more and more. This weekend, I also get to spend a few hours with one who I see not often enough. The anticipation is so great because it is with her that I am my true self, because she has walked with me for over 20 years. It’s a blessing of the greatest kind, this friendship. Enjoy your weekend and soak it all up! xo

  13. Posted September 27, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I love, love, love this: “Each of our skies contains a unique constellation of children and spouses and homes and careers and parents and loves and heartbreaks and memories, but they are all full. Perhaps most of all, we can each recognize – and celebrate – the glitter of each others’ stars.”

    I’m sure your friends treasure you in the same exact way. Your weekend sounds heavenly…enjoy!

  14. Posted September 28, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I love this. This morning I went to a birthday brunch of a very close mom-friend (meaning we’ve become close since having babies/kids). Our little circle of mom-friends was all there, but so were her (the birthday mama’s) college friends, most of whom I’d never met. It was so much fun to see the college group of this friend whom I now know very well, but did not know during those days. I loved hearing them talk about each other and seeing them as an outsider looking in. It made me long for a get-together with my own college friends – and then I came home and read this. :) Thanks for sharing.

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