I’ve read somewhere before that people tend to change their friends every seven years. I’m not trying to steal that little nugget and claim it as my own, I just can’t remember if it was from a scientific research study, an essay by a noted behaviorist or something offered by Eric Cartman on “South Park.” Rest assured, it came from a very reputable source.
Regardless, I know I’ve cycled friends in and out of my life for as long as I can remember. Oh, there were neighbor friends and school friends that I had for years growing up, but those were relationships largely created by proximity or shared love of playing sports.
Because very few people were able to appreciate my sense of humor as a teenager (that’s the story I’m sticking with), I attended three high schools, and collected various groups of friends at each stop. Though there were very few falling-outs along the way, I’ve lost contact with many of those dear friends over the years, simply due to people moving on in their lives.
Like many of you out there, I’ve re-connected with some of those old friends through Facebook and other social networking sites. It’s been fun to catch up with some of them, to see photos of the families they’re enjoying and to see who has lost as much hair or gained as much belly as I have over the years. For the record, I believe I am the grand winner in both those categories.
As I re-connect with these people, I get a little saddened that those friendships have petered out over the years. Those relationships were just so important to me back when I was younger, and I was certain they were going to be life-long friendships that stood the test of time.
But I moved away. Many of them moved away. We went to different colleges, served in different branches of the armed forces or just kind of migrated to different lives. I picked up new friends in college, in the Marine Corps, when I lived in California, you name it. As we get older, we get exposed to both more things and more people, and those things and people take time and effort that might have otherwise been spent on keeping in touch with friends from earlier stops
It just kind of happens, and it’s not restricted to childhood friendships.
I’ve had the pleasure of working in newspapers in California, Atlanta, Connecticut and Philadelphia, in addition to various stops along the Delmarva coast. In each of those stops I have made very good friendships, and I have seen many of those friendships just kind of slowly fade away over the years.
Oh, I still keep in touch with many of those people, it’s just that we reach out a little less often as time goes by. While you miss those relationships, you also grow to understand that people get married, have children or move away. Those things take time in one’s life, and as I mentioned earlier, something ultimately gets sacrificed.
I have been reminded again recently about the fleeting nature of personal relationships. Ryan Saxton, who has written for the Coastal Point for the past six years and has become a very good friend to me, shipped himself out of town Wednesday to spend a year in Australia. The mood in the office has been pretty somber over his exit, as Ryan is an extremely likeable guy, and he has been pretty adamant in reminding people that this is simply a one-year adventure, and he will be back in the area soon.
I’m not so sure about that. Ryan is a talented guy, and my personal hope is that this “adventure” allows him to truly spread his wings and find himself both as a writer and a person. Oh, I know he’ll be back to some extent — he’ll have to get all the stuff he’s leaving behind that he couldn’t pack to take with him. But I think it will be to simply get his belongings and to continue his personal growth with a new chapter in his life.
And I couldn’t be happier for him.
So, best of luck, my friend. I’m sure we’ll keep in touch, but I’m also pretty sure it won’t quite be the same.