Friends in early childhood were situational, and they weren’t really friends; you met them in the park or in other places your parents took you. Eventually you were old enough to venture out on your own, and then you could “make friends” with other kids in your neighborhood (this was before the world was such a scary place that real play was replaced by parentally arranged “play dates”). Again, initially you had location in common – which, as I think about it, has always been necessary to starting a friendship.
Eventually you were discerning and actually chose your friends. In your teens they were kids you “fit with,” people like yourself; later perhaps you became friends with someone because you admired them and in some way perhaps you and the friend enhanced each other. Lovers and friends were more distinguishable then than in this generation, although throughout history and even in my youth (when the earth was still cooling) it was wise for lovers to also be friends.
Friendships most often seem to be killed by distance and time, or rather, the lack of time. Time passed is time spent; and spent, according to Webster’s, is time “having been used and unable to be used again.” Once spent, can it ever be retrieved? Or is it gone forever like that quarter lost in 5th grade when I bet Didier that it wouldn’t rain by the time school let out?
In the past twenty years or so, I’ve been making friends from a distance. The Internet has removed that once-essential first step of friendship, location. The irony of this is that while I have made a number of new virtual friends (some of whom I eventually got to know personally), the Internet has also reconnected me with a number of far-flung old friends from various periods in my life, friends who had been “lost.” Recently I received these wonderful lines from one of them:
I’ve never felt pressured to write
By anything you’ve said or implied.
But yes, there is an urgency about it,
Brought on, no doubt, by my own sense
That time has been lost
And that writing is the only way
To try to make up for it.
It’s simple – the more I send,
The more I get back.
And therein lies the time recaptured.
Well said, old friend. How delicious is the recapturing!