When I was seven, I joined the Girl Scouts as a Brownie. I learned the classic Girl Scout song “Make New Friends”. For those of you who don’t now have the song stuck in your head (you’re welcome, by the way), the lyrics go like this:
Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver and the other gold.
Simple lyrics, simple melody, sung in a round. Aside from loving music in general, I loved the friendship theme.
You see, by seven, I had already lived in three states and been in two different schools. By the time I was a freshman in high school, I had attended six different schools and moved seven times. Being an Air Force brat, I was always in a situation to “make new friends”.
I was fortunate that during my sophomore year, my dad retired from the military, so we were able to stay put. I made lots of friends in high school, then went away to college.
Fast forward twenty-odd years.
My university’s summer Alumni Weekend took place in June 2011, and it was my 20th reunion. The wind ensemble conductor had planned a reunion concert and I was able to participate.
It was, in short, amazing.
I managed to capture my feelings in words a few weeks after the concert…
As always, the experience was so much more than the music. It was spending time with old friends and making new ones. It was celebrating those who’d been able to make it to the reunion and hearing about those who had previous commitments.
And remembering those who would never be on stage with us again, but who would remain in our hearts forever.
It was sharing photos of children, growing all too quickly. Talking about work and family and life. Sharing stories of “remember when” and wondering “whatever happened to?”.
It was realizing together that the walk back from uptown (after a night on the town) was WAY longer than we remembered. It was recognizing together that Scott Hall smells EXACTLY like a res hall always smelled. It was knowing that we are SO not as young as we used to be, and that’s just fine.
The embouchures and chops may have been a bit rusty (or not). The eyes just a little less sharp (or not). But the hearts? The hearts were there in full force. Whether it was twenty, ten, five years or just one year ago that you last played with the MUWE, it didn’t matter. I daresay that when the CD arrives in the mail, I’ll probably play it non-stop for days. I’ll close my eyes and for a brief moment will be back onstage.
This year, I returned home to celebrate again with old friends. This time, it was for my 25th High School reunion.
A lot of us reconnected on Facebook, and many still live in the area, but for the most part, I hadn’t seen any of these people since Graduation in 1987.
And you know what? It was amazing too.
It didn’t matter that twenty five years had passed. A few extra pounds, a few more wrinkles, a little less energy. Old friends reconnected as though no time had passed at all. And old stereotypes were gone.
Cheerleaders, Band Geeks, Nerds, Jocks, Drama Queens. None of it mattered any more. “Remember when?” and “Whatever happened to?” replaced the social awkwardness of high school. Photos and stories of our kids’ antics and accomplishments meant more than our own high school activities and academics.
I found myself wishing that I could share that reality with my fourteen year old self.
Because when it comes right down to it, high school and college activities (and life, for that matter) are less about how you spent your days than who you spent them with.
Sorry, Miss Wourms, for ending that last sentence with a preposition. It had to be done. Blame Mr. Hemmert. He was my creative writing teacher.
I was blessed to spend time with old friends over the past couple of years. I am blessed every day with relationships to be nurtured. Time is fleeting, relationships should not be.
Make new friends, but keep the old. Keep them close to your heart.