Brian frequently comments on how long my friendships last. Most of the people I am close with I have known for years. It’s important for me to keep friends for a long time. I like the familiarity of being with someone who has known me since I was ten years old. They know what I’m like. We’ve watched each other grow up. When I’m with someone I’ve known since the first week of college, I know that they’ve seen me through a lot of changes and that they understand something about why I am the way I am.
But underlying those reasons is something else, something that’s also important: if I didn’t have my old friends, I’d have to make new ones, and I find that prospect absolutely terrifying. I prefer to stick with the friends that I’ve known for so long that I wouldn’t know how to stop being friends with them. They’re like family: there are times when I’m not sure why I like them, but I know I love them dearly and life wouldn't be the same without them.
I’ve always been shy. Meeting new people can be a struggle for me, a painful one. I’m not entirely sure why that is, or what I’m afraid of. I suppose it’s probably a matter of self-confidence. And maybe I just don’t have enough practice. I lived in the same town until I left for college. The times when I needed to make new friends were few and far between. My closest friends, with a few important exceptions, are people I met on the first day of middle school and during the first week of college.
A couple of days ago, I had a wonderful afternoon with one of those exceptions, my friend Becca. Of my close friends, she is the one I have known for the shortest time. I met her during orientation, but we didn’t really become friends until our second year at Georgetown, when we had all our classes together. We spent a lot of time “studying” in cafes, with about a 3:1 ratio of chatting to studying. When she got married and moved to London, I was worried that we would fall out of touch and I would never see her again. But less than a year later, we were hanging out at a cafe and prowling used book stores, and it was as if she'd never left.
As we were sitting outside, enjoying the sun and our tea, talking about marriage and traveling and anything else that came up, I thought how strange it was that I felt so close to someone I've known for so short a time. It doesn't feel as though we've been friends for less than two years. If I think about it, I know that Becca doesn't know me in the same way as someone who has known me since I was ten years old, and I don't know her as well as I know the people that have been friends with for more than half my life. But somehow I feel as though I've known her forever. I started to wonder when that line was crossed, when she became such a good friend to me. Is there a specific moment in a friendship when that happens? If there was, I didn't notice when it happened, but I am happy that it did.