There’s always room for doubt when it comes to reforging old bonds of friendship with people you haven’t seen for years. Usually the fear is that too much water has gone by under the bridge and that you’ve grown apart; there’s a big chance that the people they are now aren’t the same ones you knew back in college or high school – or how you remember them from back then. Such a reunion is often heartbreaking.
It’s rare to find even one person that you’ve reconnected with that hasn’t changed in some fundamental way. People change physically as they age: most often they either gain or lost weight, or their hair thins, grays, or miraculously grows back thanks to the wonders of modern medical technology, and while these physical differences can be initially jarring, it’s the emotional and psychological changes that people undergo as life progresses that are usually the most shocking. It’s hard to come to grips with the fact that you suddenly have nothing in common any more with someone you used to spend hours with at a time.
Of course, there’s an occurrence that’s even more uncommon: you meet up with some friends, and somehow it’s as if you’re picking up right where you left off. This isn’t just because you’ve all got your nostalgia goggles firmly strapped on, and it’s certainly not because both they and you haven’t changed a bit – you can’t go five or ten years and not change in a fundamental way. Instead, what seems like the truly miraculous has happened: somehow all of you have evolved as people in such a way that you all still fit together like the strange little puzzle pieces you all are.
This is exactly what I experienced over the weekend.
Last week before leaving for a long weekend of wedding planning, seeing as many relatives as possible, and praying getting my car inspected wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg, I decided to take a major risk: I put the word out there on Facebook that the fiancée and I were coming in for the weekend and asked if anyone wanted to hang out on Friday night. I was immediately shocked by the number of “oh hell yes” responses I got from people that I’d reconnected with on Facebook but honestly hadn’t seen in-person for years. Fast-forward to Friday night, and I had a house full of people all talking and having a great time. The only reason it ended when it did was because I had to get up early to drop the car off at the shop and everyone else had their own responsibilities as well – nobody wanted to call it a night.
I can’t even recount what exactly it was we all talked about, and not even because I was hitting the hard cider rather mercilessly. All I can say is that it was the most fun I’ve had in a very long time. It was the kind of perfect exhilaration that Emerson spoke of: my joy was so deep abiding and complete that I was glad to the brink of fear.
Unlike in Emerson’s case, it wasn’t through solitude that I attained this sublime joy. Instead, it was through the fellowship of very dear friends.