I had a friend once who, when talking about friendship, classified her friends as forever friends and situational friends. These positions are, of course, not static. Situational friends can become forever friends. Forever friends can drift apart. Usually we spend more time with our situational friends (office friends, neighbor friends, mommy friends, etc.) than with our forever friends. Situational friends are those folks we see every day. We are kept up to date on the day to day details of each others lives for no other reason than proximity. We know what our situational friends are making for dinner tonight. Unless our forever friends are situational as well, we rarely know these little details about them.
That was before the popularity of social networking sites.
Facebook, Twitter and blogs allow us to connect not only with situational as well as forever friends on a very mundane day-to-day basis, but also with virtual friends and, possibly my very favorite - long lost friends.
It started out as another way for the young 'uns to stay connected but us old 'uns have sort of appropriated it. It makes great sense! A friend forwarded an article to me - which I wish I could link, but I can't recall the source - about how much more sense it makes for us. Young kids are still pretty much surrounded by everyone they've ever known so far. Keeping in constant touch with each other is an important part of their social constitution. When a parent of a young person punishes with: 'no phone, no internet' it's like cutting off their arm. This provides us, as parents, with some nice leverage, but that is, perhaps, another story for another day.
Us old 'uns - this old 'un, anyway - certainly use it to keep up with the people who are close by, too. It's convenient and nice and practically omnipresent. But for us it's way more than that.
For me, it has meant reconnecting with a whole group of women with whom I went to high school. Some of them were actually in my social circle back in the day, some were just acquaintances. I had only kept in touch with a very small number of them. That small number, should you be wondering, was two, I believe. Now there are a couple dozen of us. We communicate almost daily. We talk about our lives and we find a lot of common ground with enough variation to keep it interesting. We have formed a very comfortable commaraderie that feels way more forever than situational. How awesome is it to be in your mid-forties discussing teachers you shared in fifth grade? (The question was really rhetorical, but if it hadn't been, the answer, I assure you, would rhyme with 'berry".)
For me, it has also meant being able to maintain and grow new friendships from what would have, without the benefit of social networking, remained pleasant chance encounters.
For me, it has also meant reconnecting with four (so far!!!) of my college roommates. For three years various combinations of five to six of us shared one living room, one large kitchen, three bedrooms and one small bathroom. You read that right, kids. Six women in their late teens/early twenties. One bathroom. And this was in the early 80's. The hair products of six women alone would've crowded that bathroom. You would think that the sort of intimacy established by a situation like that would almost have to be forever. But you move, and you grow, and things change, priorities change. You swear you'll stay in touch, but you don't. It's not bad, it's not good, it just is.
Facebook brought a few of those women virtually back into my life and last night it brought one of them back into my life literally. Twenty-five years post-graduation we found each other on Facebook and discovered that we lived on opposite ends of the same city. Last night we got together amidst tears and hugs. It was amazing. I won't say twenty-five years melted away because they didn't. It was not a night filled with nostalgia and 'remember when'. There was, of course, a whole lot of catching up to do, and we did that. (Not all of it. We needed to save some for next time.) I enjoyed catching up, but I think I enjoyed even more getting a chance to spend time with the woman that my long lost friend has become.
I use that term a lot, I find. My long-lost-new-found friend.
Remember Girl Scouts? (I've reconnected with a few of my fellow Brownies, too...) Remember singing "Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold"? That didn't mean too much when I sang it (as a round, of course) at the age of seven. Now it makes good good sense.
So whether you are a new-found friend or a long lost friend, a virtual or actual friend, a forever or situational friend, silver or gold, know that you are valued - possibly more than you realize.