When I was little, I can remember my Grammy sitting me on her lap and singing a song about friendship to me. She would smile as she sang, and it always made me feel so secure that the message of the song was true to life:
Make new friends
But keep the old;
One is silver
And the other, gold.
I always thought the words of the song were more about knowing that just because I meet new people doesn't mean that I should throw old friendships away. But as I grow older, I realize that maybe this isn't the the actual purpose of the song; maybe it's more about the quality of friendships, both old and new.
For 26 years, I lived within a 150-mile radius of my hometown. And for the first 21 of those years, I lived at my parents' house in my hometown. Same family, same friends, same scenery for 21 years. Yes, within those years friendships changed; the girl who was my best friend in kindergarten was not necessarily my best friend come senior year. But the girl who was my best friend all the way through elementary school and middle school was still a dear friend to me by the time graduation rolled around (probably based on our deep-rooted love of Barbies, Lisa Frank stickers, and boys who played the drums). Once I went away to college, I made new friends but still kept in touch (and to an extent, still continue to) with many of my closest friends from high school.
They say that the friends you make in college are the friends who stick around for life. I hope that's true. My sorority sisters, my classmates through my undergrad program - those are the ones that I hope stick around for the long haul. They know me, not as the little girl who played on the swingset and constantly changed my mind between loving Spice Girls or Mariah Carey more, but as the woman who took on leadership roles, who has a passion for teaching, and who gets a little silly when cranberry-vodka's are involved.
Two years ago, we moved 450 miles away from our hometowns and 600 miles away from the college town we'd called home for 6 years. No college friends, no high school friends. No one that I knew at all. And so the adventure of making new friends began while somehow trying to balance keeping the old from so far away.
Unfortunately, as I'm finding, making new friends who are as good as the silver from the song is tougher than expected. Being an Army wife, I find that the circles of people that I'm associating with are typically the wives of H's soldier buddies. They aren't necessarily people that I "click" with as easily or automatically as I would outside of the "forced" friendships that the Army lifestyle sets up, but that doesn't make them bad people or bad friendships. They are the silver the song speaks of, friendships that are good to have even if they aren't the same depth or strength as those gold ones created during high school and college. (Disclaimer: I have made some absolutely "golden" friendships up here, as well, and I don't want any of this post to make those wonderful ladies feel anything less than the gold that they are. They know who they are, especially my #2)
Without these silver friendships, the ones that are important but aren't necessarily the long-lasting ones that will pass the test of time, would I be able to value the gold friendships as much?
The friendships that started when we were just infants, grown through the deep and lasting golden friendships of our parents.
The friendships of those started in middle and high school, who I know care despite the fact that we may only chat once every few months.
The friendships of my sorority sisters, who know me better than most people, and who appreciates a random text message knowing exactly what I need, even if all it says "if you're a bird..."
The friendships made in college thanks to mutual friends, who normally may not have started for one reason or another, but who I cherish more than anything because of how they have grown and deepened thanks to God, shared life experiences, and/or the military lifestyle.
Those are the golden friendships, the ones who have depth and meaning that I can appreciate so much more thanks to the silver friendships. And the silver friendships I can appreciate and cherish because those are the friendships that are current and what I need right now, and have the potential to turn into golden friendships as our lives mature and change.
Is one better than the other? I wouldn't say "better" but from my experiences the golden friendships tend to have more meaning at this stage of my life; however, both the gold and silver, new and old friendships are equally important to me, and each friendship individually has its own meaning and importance in my life.
To my golden friendships, I could never fully put into words what your friendship and impact in my life has been and continues to mean to me. I cherish our friendship, even if it's just a text or chat message once in a while to check in, a "thinking of you" card in the mail, or a coffee date over the phone. You mean the world to me, and I hope that our friendships continue to last a lifetime!
And to my silver friendships, I am so thankful for God bringing you into my life recently. Your friendship means so much to me, even if it's not as old or as time-tested as the golden friendships from earlier in my life, and I love the memories we've made and continue to make together. Even something as simple as coffee on the porch, a day at the beach, or girls night with munchies and movies means so much to me to know that I have you as part of my "Army family" away from home.