Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.
Like so many others, I learned this little jingle, actually the opening of a lovely poem by Joseph Parry, during a brief stint in the Girl Scouts when I was nine or ten. I’m not sure I understood it then—what was wine, after all? what did it mean for it to “mellow and refine”?—but the words stayed with me, echoing unbidden through the years and shaping many of my choices.
I’m sure it was thanks to these words that, three years ago, I found myself dancing at the wedding of my childhood best friend. Deb lives in Southern California; I live in New York. Yet I never had the slightest hesitation about saying “yes,” I’d attend. This was to be her second marriage, after a painfully failed first. For years she’d sworn she would never remarry; the wonderful man she’d been living with for two decades finally persuaded her. Clearly, a moment to celebrate. And although we’d missed all the other milestones in each other’s lives, I knew I had to be there for this one.
I’ve known Deb since we were seven; we’re now both in our seventies. For nearly forty years we had no contact—different cities, different lifestyles, different choices. But when Deb sought me out after Hurricane Katrina (I’d been living in New Orleans and somehow she knew that); when she came to see me in New York and we revisited our childhood haunts; when she took to phoning me regularly on Jewish holidays—I was irresistibly drawn back into this relationship that linked me not only with her but with my own self over time. (“For ’mid old friends, tried and true / Once more we our youth renew.”)
Continue reading “BFF – Or, The Delicate Dance of Female Friendship by Joyce Zonana”