Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Friends from Long Ago by Aukje de Vries

I usually send a Christmas card with a circular letter to friends and relations whom I have known for a long time but whom I don’t see regularly. Some of my friends call it my annual report. Whatever it is, I try to give a brief overview of major events during the past year. I have noticed that obviously many highlights have to do with travel.

Some friends send me their circular letter; others just send a card or give me a phone call.

In 2009 this exercise had an unexpected but much welcomed effect.

A cousin of mine, who has moved to England and whom I haven’t seen for at least 20 years suggested in her message to exchange news by telephone. I had the feeling we had more or less lost contact. Our lives had taken a very different course, but when her card arrived (the privatized postal services hadn’t worked very well: her card reached me by the end of January) I immediately let her know that I was delighted to speak to her on the phone and gave her my number. Had I had hers, I would have called her immediately, but I could not find it in the British Directory.

The other surprise was a phone call from a friend I had known while I was in University, but with whom I had had more contact when we both lived in Amsterdam. During that period she got married and moved with her husband to the eastern part of the country. She raised her family, but due to distances – even though they are small in The Netherlands – we didn’t do more than exchange cards for Christmas and birthdays and have a – fairly rare- telephone conversation. She called me and suggested for us to get together.

This week was special because I first had the phone conversation with my cousin and the day after I met with my friend with whom I had dinner in a restaurant not far from where she lives. It happened to be very convenient becauset I had to go to a conference in the region where she lives.

In both cases there was a lot of information to exchange, but the fact that we had known each other a long time ago, obviously had created a bond and it was easy to pick up where we had left off, years ago. We renewed our friendship.

I have come to realize how important such long time friendships are. It seems to me that it is more difficult to make new friends now, because I get to meet not as many new people as before. I also notice that already quite a few of my good friends have passed away, so the circle of friends gets smaller. Right now I have more time to spend with friends and it is nice to make plans to do things together. I believe my friends have the same experience because I notice that many of them also invest (awful business term!) more in keeping up their social contacts.

Question: Have you also resumed contact with friends from long ago? What are your experiences with them?

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