Recently, a few of my high school classmates invited me to a weeknight dinner in Findlay. For me, I was in the midst of one of the busiest portions of my annual work calendar. My professional life was hectic. Even at home, I found myself strategizing opportunities to slip back into the office to meet looming deadlines. It hardly seemed like the season to spend a weeknight at a restaurant for a non-work related dinner.
Oddly, my emotional response to the dinner invitation was exactly the opposite. When Melody (Blake) Drewes sent out the email notification, I added it to my crowded Outlook calendar and began to look forward to a night with some of my NBHS friends. The awaited day finally arrived. After work, I rushed home, threw my suit and dress shoes on the floor, and slipped into my most comfortable sweatshirt, jeans, and moccasins and headed to our appointed meeting place.
On the drive to the restaurant, an idea crossed my mind: if I were meeting most any other friend for dinner, I would have rifled through my closet to find the clothes best suited for the evening, but with no conscious thought, I had chosen my most hassle-free attire to spend time with childhood friends. My clothes were an analogy that represented our friendship: relaxed, unpretentious, well-worn. Sportswriter Peter Bodo summarized my feelings when he said, “There is no security quite as comfortable and undemanding as the kind you feel among old friends.”
Once the entire group was convened, the conversation immediately fell into an easy rhythm. There was no need for self-aggrandizement or posturing as often happens in other less intimate social settings. There was no need to clarify background information before starting a story; we all have shared common knowledge about the story’s cast of characters. There was no need to be less than completely transparent in our banter; we all know each other’s secrets.
Mostly, there were just lots and lots of laughs. At one point, it seemed as if other restaurant patrons might have chosen tables not adjacent to ours in order to avoid the giggling. In his journals, Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” We definitely proved Mr. Emerson’s hypothesis that evening.
John Leonard, an American literary and film critic, wisely noted that “It takes a long time to grow an old friend.” I would encourage each of you to invest a little effort in reconnecting with your old friends. You have spent a long time nurturing this relationship; make time to reap the rewards. Instantly, you will recapture that easy, relaxed, trusting feeling. And don’t forget to wear your most comfy jeans, sweatshirt, and moccasins. Just snuggle in and enjoy the warmth.