One of the very few things I remember from by Girl Scout experiences decades ago was learning this song: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold.” We sang it in a round at most gatherings.
My many moves have brought hundreds of people in and out my life. Most are left behind when the moving van pulls away for the next chapter in a new place. I simply cannot keep track of that many people and so, sadly, some must fall into the basement of my memory to make room on the first floor for the new people in the new situation.
However, there are always those precious few who move upstairs where they are within calling distance of my memory. These are old friends whose phone numbers I keep on hand and pull out from time to time. These are people who populate stories about past adventures. These are people who get notified every time I change my address again.
The internet has made it much easier to track them down when they too change contact information. Thanks to a combination of electronic and paper address lists and search engines, I am able to keep some sort of connection with these dear old friends.
Phone conversations with them while eating helped restore sanity when I had to adjust to eating alone after a divorce. E-mails exchanges are a link to the past and a reminder that each chapter of life contains both blessings and bruises.
During a particular choppy chapter of life I started dreaming of my long lost first cousin Lynn. When her mother divorced my uncle she and her mother moved to the other side of the country. Her brother stayed behind but disappeared from the family radar after high school. Lynn and I didn’t have any contact for nearly thirty years. After my third dream about her I came upon the one and only high school alumni directory I had which included the name and address of her brother. Through the internet I found him. Through him I found her.
The first time we spoke we talked for two hours – mostly about our mutual love and admiration for our common grandparents. Later we coordinated a long weekend visit among the five of us who shared those grandparents in common.
Life can get full. Very full. It can be hard to find time to adequately nurture friendships – whether they be new or very, very old ones. Yet, the rewards that come from making that investment pay much higher dividends than any financial investment ever could.
Make new friends. But don’t neglect the old ones in the process. These are more precious than silver or gold.