An Ode To Old Friends

I mean we’re your safe investments. We’re the foundation of your portfolio. There’s little to no risk with us. We’re always going to be here. Your new friends in Nashville? They’re your stocks. 

Two years after moving away from Oregon, where I’d grown up and lived my whole life, I came back to visit. I had a fabulous time, which is why, on my third day there, I found myself on the verge of tears in a coffee shop with my friend Celeste. “I just miss everyone here so much,” I said, staring dejectedly into the foam of my chai latte. “My new friends in Nashville are great, but people here know me so well. It’s so easy with you guys. I miss that.”

Celeste assumed the sweet, reassuring-but-also-assertive “pep up, soldier!” tone that she’s so good at. “Listen,” she said, looking me straight in the eye. “Your friends here? We’re like mutual funds.”

“Ummm . . . where are you going with this?”

“I mean we’re your safe investments. We’re the foundation of your portfolio. There’s little to no risk with us. We’re always going to be here. Your new friends in Nashville? They’re your stocks. So go buy some stocks you didn’t think you’d ever buy. Take a chance on some new ones. And know that you can afford to take those risks because your old friends aren’t going anywhere.”

Celeste’s words struck a chord with me, and not just because I had no idea she was so well-versed in financial planning. She was totally right. I didn’t need to spend all my time worrying that my new friends could never compare to my old ones; if anything, the strength of my old friendships should help empower me to make new ones.

When I got back to Nashville, I dedicated myself to my new friendships with renewed zeal, keeping Celeste’s words of wisdom in mind. I made plans with a wide variety of people, and put a ton of time and energy into building connections. I made new friends and strengthened the ones I had already started. When things didn’t work out with a potential new friend, I’d get bummed, sure, but I’d also think, “Hey, not every high-risk stock trade is going to pay off.”

Today, I have a great group of growing friendships in Nashville, and a great group of old friends in Portland. It is from this vantage point, having fostered a healthy mix of old and new friendships, that I feel more grateful to my old friends than ever. Here are a few reasons why:

Old friends let you pick up exactly where you left off — whether you last saw each other a week ago or eight years ago.

Old friends accept “Where are you? Come over. Bring snacks.” as a formal invitation.

Old friends make it possible to conduct entire conversations in inside jokes, like a secret code you’ve taken 15 years to hone.

Old friends will actually tell you if that dress is not a great choice for you.

Old friends know you’re smart, even when you don’t act like it. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them,” and how true and wonderful is that? To be able to act stupid around someone without worrying they’ll think you’re stupid?

Old friends can confidently order a drink for you if they get to the bar before you.

Old friends don’t ask what you need in a crisis. They KNOW exactly what you need, and show up at your doorstep with it.

Old friends will witness your most annoying/gross/horrible habit . . . and know they can’t be too annoyed because you have witnessed theirs.

Old friends know exactly who you’re talking about when you say, “Hey, remember that one guy at that one party who was wearing those weird shorts?”

Old friends understand that you don’t have to talk the whole time you’re together, whether you’re watching Netflix or on a week-long road trip.

Old friends know all your family drama, which means they never require a long, awkward backstory when a fresh drama comes around.

Old friends know you are never going to check your voicemail.

Old friends don’t always get you a birthday gift, but all the random “this was SO you” gifts throughout the year more than make up for it.

Old friends know exactly who you are — and can help remind you when you forget.

Old friends trust you with their real selves, however sad, intense, or complex they might be at any given moment.

Old friends can use things you said 10 years ago to give you a reality check when you need it most.

Old friends have seen you grow and change and struggle, and they’ve been by your side the whole time. The best part? Your journey’s not done, and they’re not going anywhere.

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