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Take care of your friendships

Sometimes we forget how important our old friends are to us. We take the relationships for granted and over time it just seems that we expect their friendship, as if it’s owed to us. But it’s not.

Recently, Codie and I got to enjoy a wonderful evening with two old friend that we had not seen for some time. Probably close to six months. There were many reasons for the time apart. They had been traveling around the globe for a few months, I had been in the U.S. having my ankle surgery, and Codie and I were spending more time in Yunguilla. At least that’s what they were nice enough to “put on the table” as the excuse. In fact, it was because I had said something about one of them that I shouldn’t have. I apologized afterward, but the damage had been done.

But I’m a lucky guy, because even though it took time for us to get back together, these friends are good enough people to have acted like it never occurred. Of course the first couple of minutes together were awkward, but as our hosts (that’s right, they had invited us to their home) they quickly served us drinks and toasted to seeing each other again. Folks, that is a class act.

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This is something unique about old friends; they can weigh the good times against the bad and decide which one tells more about the friendship. They can look back on the years and decide that nothing should get in the way of more good times together. I’m going to make sure that I never take that, or these people, for granted again. Because when Codie and I walked back to our car last night, we both had big smiles on our faces and were so happy with what our friends had done for us.

I woke up the next day still happy about how things worked out and took stock of other long-term friends I have that I’ve lost touch with. In Ecuador, there are some that I’ve not reached out to for a while, but simply because we now live in different cities (I used to live on the coast) and we simply don’t have the chance to see one another so much.

Back in the U.S. there are certainly a lot of old friends I’ve been in touch with less and less over the past few years. Again, it’s hard to stay in touch with so much distance between us. They have lives there; we have lives here, etc. When I do go back to the U.S., I try to see as many of them as possible, but it’s hard. Me being there doesn’t mean their lives stop!

What about you? Are you losing touch with old friends in the U.S. (or Canada or wherever you are from) now that you’re living here? For me, it seems it really started to happen about two years after I settled down here. That’s the same time frame most of us agree is the “stay or go” point; when you decide if this is the life for you or if you want to move back to where you came from.

I guess that makes sense. You start to put down roots here, and it’s really no different than it would be if you moved to another city back where you came from. You stay here for two years and you really have moved away. It doesn’t make any difference if it’s moving from Boston to Colorado or Colorado to Cuenca; it’s still a long way and another life away. But what was reinforced for me by my recent experience is that these long-term friendships are really worth holding on to. Even if you love what you have here, be sure to keep the old bonds in your heart. These are the people who have probably seen you at your best, and at your worst. They’re the ones that stayed friends with you even when you were a jerk.

Like me. I was a jerk. And it didn’t matter.

So whether they’re the reason or you’re the reason that you haven’t talked in a while, pick up the phone or log into Skype or type a WhatsApp message and get in touch with those people who knew you when… You’ll be so glad you did. I’m just sayin.’

3 thoughts on “Take care of your friendships

  1. Very nice column, Michael, and always a good reminder. As a senior, I will add that you can reach a point where old friends (and family) are dropping like flies. Be sure to be “I love you’d-up” with loved ones.
    The internet allows us to not only write to friends/family in the Old Country, but we can talk on internet phones or a phone app….and Skype and video chat on Facebook. It’s easy. Now–convincing some folks back home that we have not, in fact, moved to the moon is another thing! A few old friends have written some of us off…some may be betrayal (I had pledged to be there for them as we grew old together) or they haven’t traveled and it does seem that miles vs wi-fi makes a huge difference. It is a test that some friendships don’t survive, and it’s sad.

    1. If your “friends” are mad because you followed a dream and decided to explore in your older years instead of sitting home so you can babysit them then maybe, just maybe, you should consider the basis that your friendship with them is founded on. Same with family. I will still be “there” for them should the need arise. It is, after all, just the matter of a one day airplane ride! As I age I have come to question the true nature and basis of relationships with friends and even some family. Unfortunately such an analysis often highlights a “what can you do for me” component that sometimes overrides the “I’m happy for you” response. I have been an adventurer and a risk taker all of my life and am not about to let fear or the expectations of others direct my choices now, or ever.

  2. Michael, I’ll pay you $100 if you will change the title of your column and never again print that meaningless phrase, “just sayin'” I’m serious. I’ll see you Wednesday and you can tell me if you accept my proposal.

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