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Sunday, August 3, 2014

All those old times...



I've always felt that my life was fluid, not because of anything I did or wished, but just how circumstances worked in my life, allowed me to move across continents, grow in different settings and  attract different people who could and became friends for a while.

However, I do miss all those childhood friends and relatives left behind when I moved to America. I tried to stay in touch for a while; but after a few years, it was hard to talk about things we no longer shared.

Lately, this idea that I've not maintained life-long friends bothers me. Something is lacking when your closest friend is also your spouse. Oh, I don't mean there is anything wrong with it. But, your history together may not include all those occasions in childhood that formed the way you grew up.

I remember how it felt the first few months in a new country, trying to start or respond to an inquiry from someone in a language I could hardly understand, feeling that people avoided you on purpose, feeling you were making all the right moves and yet...
Such experiences cannot be shared with a spouse who didn't know you then; worse, never had to live in a foreign country and has no idea how hard it is to communicate in a new language.

We can't talk much about our childhood,  those pesky neighbors, those difficult classes in high school. Not having a life-long friend limits your conversations to politics, weather, and current events.

Yet, those stories about old times get better and better when they are retold to a trusted old friend.

20 comments:

Rian said...

Rosaria,I think you may be right. The older we get, the more *old friends and family experiences* seem to mean... although it may be because now we have the time to think about them and share the memories.Up until now we were too busy raising our children and creating our lives, there wasn't much time for anything else. My cousins and myself are the older generation now and I keep in contact with only 2 friends that I grew up with... but when we're together, those stories do create a bond that one can't share even with a loving spouse.

Marty Damon said...

While I didn't move to another language, I moved so much in my younger years that my sense of home is now the town I've lived in with my husband - a town he grew up in.
I envy him those memories.
I often feel that I've lived several lives because the ties to each of the other places I've lived have all been severed.

Friko said...

Yes, yes, and yes.
Only another ex-pat knows what you are feeling.
Quite by accident I stumbled (via another blogger’s link) over a song on youtube which I hadn’t heard for decades and I was crying within seconds.

There’s nobody with whom I can share memories, nobody who knows what I’m talking about. I have lived in the UK for many many years, I speak like a native and have no difficulties at all blending in.

But oh, where are those snows of yesteryear and who remembers them as I do.

Brian Miller said...

it is good to have those friends that share a longer history even than our spouse...had an old high school friend that stopped by last month...hadnt seen him in a couple years...and we sat on the porch telling stories forever....

Linda Myers said...

My father was a military officer so we moved around as I was growing up. I've found a few old friends on Facebook, which is a surprising comfort.

Helen said...

My dear, this touched my heart and reminded me of how very fortunate I am to have six friends I've known since we were five years old ~ and are still connected. Doesn't get much better. I will see all of them in October and can't wait!

Tom Sightings said...

Interesting insight. I never thought of it that way. I remember my grandparents (one set was Irish, the other Czech) kept up the "old friends" by living in old ethnic neighborhoods -- they hadn't known each other back in the "old country" but they shared religion, language, many familiar references.

As for me, I live about 40 miles from where I grew up. And I hate to say it, but I don't keep up with anyone from high school or college. My oldest friend -- and a very dear one he is, for all the reasons you mention -- is a friend I made when I first got to New York City and was working in my first job.

Rob-bear said...

I can certainly understand your situation, Rosaria. When my wife and I moved west across Canada, I eventually lost track of the few friends I had back east. And because our life in the west was quite transient, I didn't make any lasting relationships.

blessings and Bear hugs!

yaya said...

When we were home in June my oldest friend came to our party. I've know her since we were 4 and you're right...no one can fill that spot where friends who knew you as your personality and life were just forming! Not even a sibling fills in those moments only a friend shares. I find myself without a ton of close friends now too..mostly my hubby! It's Ok, but he has memories like I do that I'll never know or understand. Must just be how life is. My Mom is 88 and almost all her friends have passed, as well as all her siblings. She misses having someone to speak Greek with. We never learned as kids. I think she would understand your plight better than most.

Vagabonde said...

I understand your feeling so well. When I came to America I also came to another language and another culture. The language I can speak and usually, unless someone speaks very fast, I can understand. I still have problems with the culture though. Paris being my hometown, it is easy to see pictures of it on many blogs, but at the same time if I am feeling nostalgic I cannot look at them – it is too hard. It was easier when my mother was alive because we talked (in French) on the telephone every week, then I went back home to Paris twice a year, but now I don’t go so often – went last May though. My cousin there is like a sister – we remember what we did when we were wee girls and giggle all the time when we are together, forgetting that we are seniors now. Two weeks ago I met a French/Hungarian friend I had when a teenager in Paris – she lives in Iowa now. She came to Atlanta. I had not seen her in 12 years – she is the friend I used to go with to Rimini, Italy on vacation …. Such great memories.

kj said...

there's no fooling those who know our roots and have experienced them first hand. as i get older, i find i am willing and interested in reconnecting with folks i haven't spoken a word to in 40 years. i've seen a few and to my surprise, the familiar was more important than the unknown.

i've just lost a old dear friend because her husband is a jerk and i called him on it. i knew the risk. i grieve the loss.

these days anyone who knew me way back gets extra points. like, jeannie and janice--two sisters who lived on the lane with me and who know me inside and out.

i hope you have one friend like jeannie and janice, rosaria.

love
kj

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria - I feel the same and having no children, nor my brothers, life seems a little empty on the family front ... and I lost my best friend of all my life about 13 years ago ...

I've also moved around and haven't a settled long-time town/village to grow into .. though Eastbourne looks like being the retirement town for me - as I'm here!

I do correspond with overseas friends, and I've caught up with extended family members more than I might have done.

The blog in some way helps as I include snippets in there ..

Cheers - Hilary

Maggie May said...

Although I didn't move to another country (that must be very difficult), when I was 8 yrs we uprooted from the north of England to the south. Well in those days it might just as well have been a foreign land as I was ridiculed because of the way I spoke etc so in a way, I do emphasise with you.

I have no contact with my former roots either. I feel now as though I belong here and would probably feel I didn't fit in if I went back to my origins. I'd be probably thought of as a posh southerner!
Funny really, we are such a small island!
Maggie x

Nuts in May

the walking man said...

Rosaria the friends i have known less than 10 years have turned out to be truer friends than any I knew when i was growing up. I went to my 30 year reunion and guess what I found, a lot of them were still pompous and vapid and comparing check books and not accomplishments as humans.

IMO there is much to be said for leaving the past in the past.

Terri @ Backward B Ranch said...

We moved every three years or so when I was growing up as a military brat so I don't really have those childhood connections. I have casual & one best friend now, but I rather like the closeness I have knit with my dear husband. We've been together so long that I feel like we were childhood buddies.

troutbirder said...

Very interesting post. It made me think about the same situation in my own life with a move far away and family and friends from my youth long gone. I see it here in my small town how different it is where many of the locals have never left and keep their lifelong friends. There is a tradeoff to it all....

Patricia Edie said...

I think you have hit the nail on the head when you express the value of friends who were a part of your life when... When I see an old friend after a long absence, there is a sense of homecoming, because she knew me "when" and reminds of the person I was and my life then.

Kate said...

I don't think you need to be an ex-pat to feel this way. My friends have, for the most part, like myself left my small hometown. Even those I've reconnected with are so changed by life that it's not the same, we no longer have common experiences. I did have a very long term friend who was with me (at least via telephone) through thick and thin over the years, until she died about three years ago.

Since then I've been bereft of that connection, that shared bond. Having no husband... yet these stories are not things I can share with my children, things they would understand.

and yes, I miss the old friends, the old connections,and the sense of connectedness I had when I was younger.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

True, stories from old are better when remembered and shared with those that were there. But, I must say sometimes writing them down makes me feel like I'm telling it again to those who were there. Recalling their faces as they remember and add their tidbits - in my writer's mind.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I feel so sad for you that the major move so many years ago separated you from the friends of your youth. I can't begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for you to come here, not knowing the language well, everything so different. And the toll that physical miles and vastly different life experiences can take on the bonds with old friends.

Although I chose to attend college 2,000 miles from my home town, I have been fortunate with friends. I have a few old friends from grade school - my friend Pat and I went to kindergarten through high school together -- and some from high school and many from college, none of whom live near me. But we all seem to have enough in common to keep the friendship bonds strong.

What amazes me are the friends from my first full-time job, which I started in 1968. An amazing number of those co-workers are still close friends -- and my closest female friend is among them. When I had thoracic surgery ten years ago, I got only one call from a current co-worker, but more than a dozen calls from those co-workers from the 60's and 70's who were genuinely concerned for me. I felt -- and feel -- very blessed.