On Friendship, by Jackie Widen

My adult daughter and I were having a discussion recently about friendships.  She is at that awkward age – mid 20’s and graduated from a college that is now 2,000 miles away, early married and living in a city different from where she grew up.


Her circle of friends has changed over these past couple of years and it distresses her.  During a great chat about the nature of friends, their evolution and how some friendships change with age, life events and geography, we were able to identify two basic types of friends.  The first type is those you meet up with in common activities–your school class, the gymnastic or cheerleader squad you’re on,  student council, your various carpools, the church youth group. Growing up, there are limitless opportunities to encounter situations where everyone has a commonality with you.   College brings on another fertile breeding ground for friends– the dorm, campus life, parties.  As the years pass and majors are fine-tuned, you find yourself with a familiar group of friends who are taking those final courses for that specialized degree.  Pacts are made to always remain close, no matter what, and for a while, those promises are easy to keep.  But then life and choices sometimes alters those bonds.


As the years pass these “passage friends” fall away.  Phone chats are forced or inconvenient and interests change.  People marry and begin lives that suddenly involve a new circle of acquaintances.  But then there is the second type — those special friends who stay in your heart no matter the time spent away, the miles apart, the changed interests,  the new job.


Kind of like me and Miranda.


I like to call this type of friends “forever friends” because no matter how your life changes you always have a touchstone with these special people.  I find it more so with women than men who don’t communicate as well in general.  They don’t call up their bestie to cry when their Dad suddenly dies, or when they find out they are having twins with already a 2 and 4 year old.


Miranda and I are polar opposites.  We met when we were 10 years old and swimming for opposing teams.  We swam different strokes and seldom competed against one another, but we were both the best at our respective events.  Circumstances brought us to join a third team during our teen years and that’s when we really became good friends.  We lived close to one another and our mothers teamed up for carpooling to and from our 2 -a day workouts  in Houston.  Back in the 1960’s we could whip across the Houston freeways from the southern areas to Memorial in 20 minutes.  Now it would take more than 20 minutes just to gain access to the freeway.  By the time I turned 14 -legal driving age back then – I was given the keys to the family vehicle and I drove us to and from our practices.  I remember when we stopped at the convenience store after morning workouts to get giant Slushees and candy bars.  We used to compare the new eye shadow colors we liked.  We even shared a boyfriend.  No!  It wasn’t anything naughty – it was just an innocent crush on a guy who turned out to be a Blue Ribbon Jerk.  But he drove a red Corvette!


Miranda was Jewish and I was Methodist.  That didn’t seem to matter.  In our spare time during the spring and summer we put on our little bikinis and lay out by her pool to get some color on our pale bodies.  Practicing in an indoor pool didn’t allow much tanning.  When we were bored we would look at her father’s slides; all those plastic surgery cases.  Sometimes we would wish we could trade hair.  Mine was stick straight and I had to force it to curl.  Hers was curly and frizzy and she would slather on the gel to make it behave.


We chose different adult life paths.  After college I married and spent my time on the Mommy Track raising 4 small children spaced way too close together.  She went off to be brilliant in medical school and excel at her challenging Internship and Residencies.   I would ask her “Isn’t it difficult to do all those long rotations?” and she would smile and answer “Not as hard as our swimming workouts.”  And when she learned I had juggled all those kids with an alcoholic husband for over 25 years – she asked “Wasn’t that horribly awful?” and I would answer “Not as hard as our swimming workouts!”  Though our commonality was rooted in our swimming days, little did we know we would be bonded for life because of discipline and hard work.


We’ve made the effort to try and stay in touch during the past five decades.  Gee whiz – Did I say decades?  She lives in California and I live in Texas.  When we do have dinner or occasionally chat on the phone it is like the years dissolve and we are still teenagers.  As I approach a very significant birthday, I am profoundly grateful for my “forever friend”, Miranda.  We have birthdays only 2 days apart, and so I always think of her when I celebrate my special day.  This year, my 60th (yes I am the senior, she is a baby at nearly 59) I would like to say Thank you Miranda, for being a Forever Friend.  It is a rare and special thing to call you a friend for 50 years.  As I toast myself this coming weekend, I will raise a glass for you too.  Life is so very short and we need to remember the things that matter in our lives:  Faith, Family and Friends.   Especially Forever Friends, like me and Miranda.  Happy Birthday to us!


Thank YOU Jackie!  I couldn’t agree more.  Miranda


  1. What a good point about a medical residency being manageable after having endured all those challenging workouts. Helicopter parents do their children no favors by trying to save them from any and all traumas. It is, indeed, what we have endured when we were young that sets us up to deal with the later challenges of life.

    One of the odd things that I chose to do when I was 19 was Colorado Outward Bound. This was back in the day when girls were finally allowed and when the programs tended to be longer. We spent nearly a month living outdoors – backpacking, river rafting, sailing. We slept on the hard ground with no showers. To this day I consider a hot bath and a soft bed to be two of the greatest and most wonderful luxuries of life.

    It is often the simple things that make life wonderful.

    1. Margaret, my daughter did a month of Outward Bound after her junior year of high school and she came back with a new sense of accomplishment and purpose. When people ask I always highly recommend Outward Bound, and NOLS–the National Outdoor Leadership school for instilling self reliance and leadership skills. M

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