On growing apart

One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve grown older – by which I mean moved to a 9-5ers schedule and stopped going to bars – is that I’m having a harder time staying in contact with my friends.

In other words, I hardly hang out anymore.

When does this happen? And why?

I’ve spent the past ten years being part of a grand group of friends – a family even – that has been closer, regardless of size, than most people could ever hope for. And I’m thankful for all of it. But I’ve grown apart. There are too many people to connect with, now. I used to stay in contact with a wide array of people, and now I find that I don’t contact more than three friends on a regular basis.

As time goes on, people start to pare down their lives. They don’t expect to be best friends with everyone they meet. I know this. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy hanging out with them. The only problem is I find myself feeling guilty, watching each friend slowly grow further away and realizing that I don’t call as much as I should. Or hang out as much as I’d like.

It’s hard. I don’t want to disappoint. I don’t want to watch more friends drift. But I realize that it’s part of growing old. That getting together once every few weeks to visit, to catch up, to play Trivial Pursuit or drink a few beers, is perfect. Not everyone I know can match our schedule, and I don’t expect to parallel anyone else’s. The time we can hang out – coupled with the time we need to spend on other avenues, with family, at home, working – doesn’t flow freely like it did in high school or in college.

So I’ve started to understand that I’m not going to be able to keep in touch with everyone. And I’m getting used to it.

When I was younger, my friends were everything. They aren’t anymore; not everything, but still a large part – no, a huge part. I’ve grown, and I’ve grown apart, but I know that no matter what – no matter how far away they are, or how often I talk to them, or if I see them every weekend or not – they’re still my friends. I still love them all, and nothing would change that.

And as far as growing apart, I know that it was inevitable. It’s a fact of life. I don’t need to hang out with friends every day. Instead, I cherish every moment I do spend with them. We get a chance to meet up, though not as often, and it feels more special. I understand now that, while I tend to be a loner at heart and would rather categorize books and write to a select amount of blog viewers, I enjoy – nay, cherish – every moment I spend with my friends.

So you’ll have to forgive me if I sound mushy. If I seem whiny, you have my apologies. This is all quite new to me. For a long time, I believed in quantity over quality. Now, I understand that my friends will still be there, even if I lose touch for a few weeks.

If you haven’t heard from me in a while, it’s not because we’ve grown apart.

It’s just that we’re growing up.

This was lovingly handwritten on September 16th, 2006