The second half of my freshman year in college I had one of my most unique friendships, unlike anything before or since.
We were all the same age, and at the same level in our schooling, but beside that (and our faith in Jesus) we seemed to have little in common. We had different body-types, personalities, hobbies and majors.
I can’t remember now how we came to spend so much time together. It was bad for my Biorhythms (I learned with these friends to stay out late) and my Biology 106 grade, but good in every other way.
While staying up late we talked about what we’d read in our Bibles, discussing the scriptures and sharing thoughts about life and growing up. All that sorting out of life that begins snowballing in college? We hacked away at it in student housing, late into the night.
I still lived at home. I got my first curfew.
We all become like what we spend time with. This is why aspiring writers are told to spend time with good books.
I couldn’t understand was why my mom felt so reserved about this relationship when I knew it was doing so many neat things for me.
I admired the openhearted generosity and creativity of the one friend. I aspired to the intellectual honesty and self-discipline of the other. Both of them modeled a healthy disinterest in what others thought of them, something I struggled with. And I learned new (healthier) eating habits.
When I finally tried to explain it to my mother, I described the three of us us as colors: I was red, she was white, he was black; as different as we could be and still complementary and complete.
“But that’s the problem,” my mother said. “You’re so complete you don’t need anyone. What will you do if someone else comes along? There’s no room for anyone else.”
She might have been concerned that I wouldn’t feel a need to date while my intellectual and emotional needs were being so thoroughly met in a platonic relationship (I’ll have to ask her someday).
The statement got me thinking for the first time about how exclusive friendships are supposed to be.
I was so excited to finally have “best” friends, “in” jokes, and crazy shared memories, I was not thinking past us.
(In our own defense we did include a fourth person, and more, several times in our adventures– one a story for another time– but the question still stood.)
That friendship “broke-up” within a year, due to travel and shifts in interests and life-foci.
For a long time I missed what we shared more than I missed the individuals themselves (we still saw each other around). The camaraderie was gone. I mourned its passing and seeing once-intimate friends dissolve into mere acquaintances.
My mother, once again my only confidant, listened to me articulate my disappointment. It had a lot to do with time invested and memories grown, and how it seemed I as the only one they mattered to any more.
“You are going to love being married,” Mom said. “You have a best-friend to share everything with– build memories with– and they never go away.”
And she was right.