Monday, September 26, 2016

new/old, silver/gold

A couple months ago I tried alluding to what I thought was a very well-known adage while in conversation with my dad, but he had no idea what I was talking about. To be fair, I think what I said was something to the effect of: "You know that saying about friends and new ones and old ones and silver and gold?"

Clearly, I'm nothing if not articulate.

I've since remembered the actual saying: Make new friends, but keep the old; for one is silver, and the other is gold.

I feel like my version was pretty close, but whatever. Moving on.

It's a silly little phrase, really. Trite. Overly sentimental. Cloying, even. But slap every cliche label in the book on it, and it still resonates so deeply with me right now.

Nearly four weeks ago, I left everything I knew and moved to a place where I knew exactly zero people. I've hounded this fact over and over again, I know, but no matter how many times I say it, it never stops being true. This was truly the most terrifying thing I've ever done, and in contemplative moments, I still sometimes can't believe I actually went through with it.

You see, I'm of the sort who needs her people. I've never been terribly social, and I've never had an extensive circle of friends. But what I've always had is a core network of close friends who I feel safe and comfortable with. They're the people I naturally gravitate to, the people who know my secrets and my deepest fears and desires, the people who look for me in a crowd. Those people are a huge part of the reason that I made it through college in one piece; they soothed me when my heart was broken, they laughed with me late into the night, they helped me stretch and grow and change. True, the cast of characters rotated in and out as people changed and moved away and got married as people are wont to do, but I had that solid support. Always.

I still have my people. Most of them just happen to live nearly 2,500 miles away. That distance doesn't make me love or appreciate my people any less. If anything, it's deepened my affection and helped me see even more clearly how important my people are to me. To use another trite, saccharine adage, you don't know what you have until it's gone. Or in this case until you're gone. But the sentiment is there.

I still have my people, but I don't have my people here. And of all the things that have thrown me for a loop as I try to adjust into my new life, that is the hardest. That is what I miss so much that it physically hurts from time to time. I have met extraordinary people in the short time I've been in Boston. I've met people who have welcomed me and included me and shown genuine interest in knowing who I am. But I simply haven't been here long enough to form the kind of friendships I yearn for. I don't yet have people whose conversations I can join late and not feel like an intruder or people who would notice if I don't show up.

I know that these things take time. (Yet another cliche.) I haven't had nearly enough time to expect real results. I'm aware of that, and I don't expect to have the kinds of friendships after four weeks that I've spent years developing. But having realistic expectations doesn't change the deeply rooted desire to connect, to understand, to confide.

So back to new and old and silver and gold. It's one of the most exciting and most heartbreaking parts of life, isn't it? The continual ebb and flow of the people in your life, the individuals who take turns forming the bedrock of your social identity.

Old friends—the ones who are tested and true, who've seen you at your worst and love you anyway—are gold. Valuable, luminous. But the new ones—the ones you still tip toe around, who you're only just beginning to feel you're not auditioning for—are silver. Luxurious, beautiful.

And what's most extraordinary, I think, is that somewhere along the way, silver becomes gold and new silver comes along, and in the end, it's all precious, all important, all needed.

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