The Winding Journey of Friendship

Friendships are wonderful and hard.

Watercolor illustration of two women in the distance walking on a winding path through a field
Image created via Midjourney

Over the past few weeks I've met with two different friends for dinner. Invariably we talk about our kids, with our eldest children reaching the last years of middle school or starting high school.

I met these women when our kids were toddlers. Some of our younger children weren't even born. We did playdates and book club and Mom's Night Out. And here we are — more than a dozen years later, still friends.

Every day, I look at the "On This Day" that Facebook and Timehop provide. And sometimes I'm reminded of friendships that have come and gone. Often, we simply grew apart as our kids got older and chose their own friendships. Life got busy. A few fell away during Covid times due to isolation and then the connection never really recovered.

There are the painful few that were more like a breakup than a gradual fizzling out. A few vanished and I don't really know what happened.

Experts say that we rotate through friendships every seven years or so. I think about new friends I've gained over the past few years as I began a new career.

And I marvel and the friendships that have endured for far longer than the "average lifespan." Much as social media causes a lot of harm, it's been the avenue for me to stay connected with people. I pop onto Facebook to check in on my friends. I have other friends that I text on a near-daily basis.

I think about my kids' relationships with friends. My 5-year-old is at that age when she thinks quantity matters. She'll proudly proclaim, "I have lots of friends!"

My 11-year-old has started hanging out with some kids in the neighborhood after school. They disappear to one of the houses down the street. And I'm relieved because he really struggled with the isolation of the Covid years, and then seemed to struggle to rebuild his friendships after he went back to school.

And my 13-year-old is entering his last year of middle school and then will be headed into the tumultuous high school years. He has one really close friend and they hang out a lot. He's very chill and I hope he escapes the drama that can come with teenage hormones, but I'm not holding my breath.

Friendships are wonderful and hard. I'm grateful for mine. I'm grateful for the shared perspectives, the new perspectives, the commiseration, and the support. I'm the type of person who can sustain a friendship through text messages but is also grateful for the hours-long conversations sitting on someone's porch.

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