Saturday, October 23, 2010

Old Friends Bygone

I think that there are interesting tipping points in life. I always have been fascinated by the median center of population. It's an interesting concept. The Census looks at population distribution across the country, and determines the spot east, north, south and west of which there are equal numbers of people. That point started out in Maryland during the 18th century, steadily moving west. Presently it is in eastern Missouri. The continental divide is interesting, too. It's a line that runs from Alaska southeast through Canada and the United States into Mexico. It's divides the watersheds that drain water into the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. Crossing it during family road trips from Phoenix to Gainesville, Florida always bore mentioning. There's an intangible divide that I give a lot of thought to these days. When you get to a certain age, I think you realize that you are out of contact with as many friends as you are currently in contact with. It's not unique to anyone.

Everyone drifts out of contact with some people. Sometimes it's when the way by which they know them expires. No longer being classmates spelled the end of many friendships with me, as did either they or I moving away. It's a similar case for all my friendships which may at least be described as idle. I think I may have in the past observed that in all respects, you can't go home again. You can't revisit the past with the same results. It's all changed, and old friends are mostly like that. It's like if two banks of a river somehow radically shifted their lines and contours. The old bridge just couldn't cover the gap anymore. I'm not sure if that happens or not, but it helps my line of reasoning considerably if it does. I don't know that my modest but loyal readership has a strong background in civil engineering, but if so, bear with me when I veer into territory unfamiliar.

In any case, I think about the friends I had at various points of my life, among them the ones designated as my 'best friend'. Some of them I would not be friends with now, such as those with whom I had nothing more in common than a devotion to a sports team or cartoon. At so tender and young an age, we were very simple creatures, and that's all there was. I suppose that friendships formed while the bulk of the maturation process has yet to be completed can hardly be expected to endure beyond that completion at a very high rate. The ones with whom I still have a great deal in common and with whom there is considerable mutual goodwill would still be my friends if it were not for the markedly distinct trajectories of our lives. With very few exceptions, everyone I knew was scattered to the wind. To my knowledge, almost no friend I've ever had is still in the place where I knew them.

I sincerely wish I could be in closer contact with a handful of the friends who have drifted away by some random act of capricious fate. I feel as if nothing short of living in close proximity once again could bring about what I hope for. There seems to be just no substitute for that kind of intimacy. One would think that modern communication, online social networking specifically, would aid some in this matter, but I cannot say that I have found this to be the case. I chalk it up to some inborn attitude people have towards various forms of communication. I guess that in most cases, the people I refer to just do not cotton to the whole online thing. It's preferable to see it that way than to think that fate or chance has nothing to do with it.

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