I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships lately. The older I get, the more difficult it seems it is to make close friends, and yet the more precious my close friends are to me. For the first 5 years of my life growing up in New York I lived next door to Mardi (us above) and then we both moved and lived 40 minutes away from each other. We’ve never lived in close proximity again and yet, 32 years later, she is still one of my very best friends…
I read an article the other day that suggested strong childhood friends could be the secret to long term happiness as an adult. It’s interesting to think about. We always hear a lot about the negative situations in your childhood being the basis for all kinds of emotional problems as an adult, but I love thinking about how the connections and bonds in your childhood can impact you in a really positive way through adulthood. And yet, it turns out only 1 in 4 of us are still in touch with our childhood best friend.
Are you still friends with your childhood best friend? The one you had your very first sleepover with and coordinated Halloween costumes with every year through grade school? I’ve lost touch with most of my childhood friends, unless you count being friends on Facebook which I don’t really, but Mardi is still one of my best friends.
The Huffington Post talks about how special childhood friendships are that last into adulthood. I especially liked how it talked about learning to trust and using that as a template for every other friendship afterwards. I really want my children to have friends that last into adulthood, that’s rooted in longevity and yet are completely voluntary (unlike family relationships).
Here were a few things that helped Mardi and my friendship survive through the years:
1. Getting along really well (as kids and then adults). We’re both really silly (still are!) and imaginative and are very much kindred spirits. Obviously this connection is a really important piece.
2. A tradition of getting together. After we moved away from each other when we were 5 years old, every Christmas Eve our families would still get together. It may seem like a small thing, but it made such a difference to have a regularly occurring tradition with her family. Now, our families live too far apart to get together for Christmas Eve, but Mardi and I have started a new tradition of an annual girl backpacking trips.
3. Making the friendship a priority. Mardi’s really good at this long term friendship thing. She’s great at keeping in touch and has an incredible memory of people and events in my life (she’s like my extra memory bank). We lost touch for a little in high school when we got wrapped up with our own busy lives, but in college we reconnected again and went on an epic road trip through the Southwest.
Mardi’s really good at making friendship a real priority, which is so inspiring to me.
4. Things in common beyond being childhood friends. I think this is probably the most important thing. I have a lot of childhood friends that I’ve grown apart from because of interests, lifestyle, marriage, beliefs, etc. The only thing we have in common now is just our fond memories of being close as children. With Mardi though, we’ve both realized we have a lot in common as adults.
We both love the outdoors, love to travel, are still spontaneous and fun loving, and have similar taste in music as well. We’ve watched a sunset in The Grand Canyon, a sunrise in Bryce Canyon, hiked and camped in Yosemite together, cross country skied in Vermont, kayaked through the Allagash River in Maine , climbed the mountains of Alaska. We’ve gone to concerts all over the place together too. I’ve become friends with her friends, and she with mine. Our lives continue to evolve together.
5. Staying close to the family. Mardi’s very close to my siblings and parents as well. She’s gone camping with sisters, visits my siblings to meet their new babies and always sees my parents when they’re in town. She comes out for Thanksgiving, major concerts, and every family wedding (my sisters and I with Mardi at my brother’s wedding above). My own children know and love her. She really is part of our family and understands our family dynamic, which only makes us closer.
I feel lucky to still be so close to my childhood best friend. Are you still close to your childhood friends, or maybe even your childhood best friend too?