Thursday, December 10, 2009


There’s something special about having a friend that has known you most of your life. My ‘oldest’ friend and I have been friends since age 12 – we met in 7th grade. I know some people who can claim ‘older’ friends than that. One of my friends can claim a friend from 6 months (55 years) – she actually has the photo of the two of them at that age lying side by side to prove it. I’ve done the math to know how many years Barb and I have been friends but have no need to make that information public. Those of you who know my age can do the math yourselves and keep quiet about it.

Barb came on a business trip. She manages an Arts facility and is Director of Community Involvement in our hometown. She came for the opportunity to meet arts professionals here – network, learn, grow – as well as visit a variety of facilities to see what she might take home and implement. The plus side was staying at my house instead of a hotel and getting to play in the off times.

Those of you who know my home town know that there is a limit to the variety of ‘ethnic’ cuisine available in restaurants. Here in Minneapolis Barb got to indulge her passion for new and different foods – Malaysian, Afghani, Vietnamese. She also got to make visits to the Sculpture Garden – modern art in its element – Juxtapostion – urban art created by teens – the Cathedral of St. Paul – classical architecture and classically beautiful sculpture, paintings, and iron work. It was a great week.

Part of the fun was seeing your city through the eyes of someone new. It causes you to think about what you really have to offer and what the highlights are that an out-of-towner should visit. But the best part of the visit is spending time with someone who has known you for, almost, forever. There’s something so easy about being with someone with whom you have such history. For one thing, there is the verbal shorthand – being able to reference events and people and with just a comment have decades worth of history understood.

More than that is the ease of not having to explain yourself. This was made evident when I introduced Barb to one of my friends here in the cities. We were having a general discussion about relationships and Barb made a comment about her upbringing and her family relationships impacting her in her current relationship choices. My other friend asked the logical ‘how’ question and Barb and I just looked at each other. I knew exactly what she meant – but how do you explain the six years of junior high and high school family dynamics to someone in 5 minutes or less? It just can’t be done – at least not in a way that would ever compare to the knowledge that comes from experiencing those things together.

During that same discussion my friend asked me something. The same struggle ensued. This is a friend who I am very close with, someone with whom I share deep feelings and reveal very personal information. I feel she knows me well, yet she knows me only in the context of the past 5 years. Barb knows me from childhood. The depth of that knowledge is not something that can be acquired overnight and the ease of understanding is not something that can be replicated.

Probably the best part of this old friendship is its security and comfort. This is a person who knows me at a core level. She understands my origins; she’s lived through my mistakes and disasters as well as my successes. She can ask me the hard questions and hold me accountable for the answers in ways that others cannot. She can bluntly say that what she is hearing from me is crap – and then ask me why I feel the need to dish it. She loves me and accepts me for who I am – really – as opposed to who I might want her to see. That’s a friendship to keep. That’s a friendship to cherish.

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