(Photo by Tyler Nix)
Recently, I experienced the value of a long-term friendship. I had dinner with probably my oldest friend. I have known him for almost fifty years and we have been through much together. I was substitute teaching while waiting to begin graduate school. I had recently gotten married and was teaching Math at a school in Flushing, New York. Somehow, we became friends, moaning and groaning about the demands placed upon us and some of the students who were disrespectful and difficult to teach. After I left for graduate school, we kept in touch and the three of us would hang out together. I particularly remember him being at our apartment the night of one of the New York blackouts and still do not know how he made it home that night.
My wife and I moved to Florida while he stayed in New York. We would always see him when we visited or when he came to Florida. Years after we moved, he also moved to Broward County and we would periodically get together. Although our lives had taken different directions, we stayed in touch and would continue to hang out until having a family took precedence. He worked for some IT companies and then became an online teacher for several different colleges.
Needless to say, our lives went in different directions. He became a world traveler, meeting and making friends all over the world. My wife and I raised a family and I focused on building a quality mental health group practice. But still, we would make time to see each other. Although I do not get to see him as much as I would like to, we continue to have dinner every so often. As I have aged, my wife passed, and my children have grown up, no one really knows me or my history as well as him. We get together and talk about today and what we were like when we were younger. Nobody else has seen the changes in me over fifty years. Nobody else knows our shared experiences from the past. It is sad yet I am glad I have the opportunity to share those memories with someone else who was there.
Old friendships are to be valued. They are more than just being friends. They are like history lessons but very personal experiences. They are windows into your past and remind you of who you were before you became who you are today. While I still have my brother, nobody else understands the struggles and the fun I had when I was a much younger man. Our periodic dinners remind me that the bond between us remains strong. I am thankful for this relationship.