This weekend I had the pleasure of staying at a lake house with five girls who I met almost sixteen years ago when we were college freshman. We are only six of a slightly larger group who has managed to stay close for over a decade and a half. The weekend was filled with sunshine, water, wine, laughter and long conversations, covering both serious and not-so-serious topics. It was amazing. For so many reasons.
Driving to the lake house, I was excited about the chance to sleep in and take a shower in peace and read a book and sit quietly by the water, but driving home I was grateful for so much more. As much as we try to stay in touch and see each other, it’s hard. We live in different cities and calendars get full and before we know it we haven’t had a real conversation in months or a year. And you forget. You forget how well these people know and understand you. That they have seen you at your worst and your best. That they have been there as we all grew up together. That they know your journey to becoming a grown up. So when you finally see them and things immediately fall back into place, there is a sense of peace and gratefulness that cannot be replicated.
I’ve been trying to think about a way to explain the thirties and how weird they are and this weekend helped me articulate it. The six of us are all 33 or 34 and we are all leading different lives.
From the time you are very young your friends (more often than not) are going through a very similar life experience. You are friends with your neighbors or classmates or cousins or family friends, but most of the time everyone is leading a fairly similar life. This goes on for quite a while, at least it did for me. I chose my friends based on compatibility, but we were also leading very similar lives and were at similar stages. And then I hit my late 20s or early 30s and things got weird.
People start moving in different directions. Some get married early, some don’t. Some have kids, some don’t. Some choose to focus on their career, some don’t. So many options. So many choices. We’re all grown up all of the sudden. But no one feels like grown ups. Everyone thinks that everyone else has “it” figured out, but the truth is, I think that our 30s might be the time where we actually have no idea what we are doing. Where we are all just figuring ourselves out. Trying to figure out what to hold onto and what to let go. And no matter where you are in your life, everyone is dealing with their own challenges.
Knowing this. Sharing this commonality, the commonality of not knowing what the fuck is going on, is now what strengthens friendships. What keeps these friendships alive. It’s no longer that you’re fellow alumni. Or that you share a bathroom. Or go to the same bars. It’s knowing and understanding each other. Knowing each other’s personalities and pasts. Doing your best to listen with an empathetic ear and provide advice based on your intimate knowledge of this person who you have watched grow into an amazing adult. At some point how you became friends, your initial commonality, becomes less significant and it is replaced with a stronger bond, why you stayed friends.
So I’d like to thank these girls. Thank you for an amazing weekend and for continuing to hold my hand as I stumble through becoming a grown up.