On Tuesday I met my friend Reine for lunch. She was our neighbor until this past summer when she sold her house and “went condo”, moving just a few miles across town. We have seen her a handful of times since then – at Noah’s Bar Mitzvah and the neighborhood Halloween party. But I still miss her. We have similar tastes in books and in people. We share sensibilities and I’m sure our friendship will survive the move. It has overcome some conventional odds already. Reine is 75 years old.
When you are a child, your friends are narrowly dictated by your birthday. You are presented with a group of peers in your class with the clear understanding that you will pick from this cadre. I remember the thrill I felt the year when I was befriended by fifth grader when I was only in fourth grade. In was simply unheard of! As you grow older, you might expand your universe a few years in either direction. I did so more for dating, less for platonic friendships. Even in college my range of close friends was up or down by just one year. Eventually you become a parent and befriend other parents who have children who match ages with your kids. That offers a range of about 6-8 years in either direction – but hardly a stretch.
As a species we tend to gravitate towards people who are living the same life we are – at the exact same time. But it makes little sense that we wouldn’t also want to spend time with those who lived that life earlier on – provided you had things in common. Still we tend not to embrace these friendships – or seek them out – because …..why? Do we assume that those commonalities can’t possibly exist?
Well, they do. I picked up two sandwiches which we split and shared. She offered a pumpkin dessert. We jabbered on for over an hour about shows we had recently seen, books we had read, her kids and grandkids, college, my kids, and vacations to Vegas and Italy. It wasn’t any different than a lovely lunch I would have with my 40 something friends. I laughed, I ate, I got a little smarter about a few things. My day was infinitely nicer because of our lunch together. I think hers was, too.
I’m now contemplating new horizons in friendship and it’s an endless view. When Reine lived behind us, I called her my neighbor. Now that she’s gone, I assume “old neighbor” would be appropriate but I think I’m going to go with “new friend.”