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You Can’t Make Old Friends

July 10, 2017

Old friends
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fear

Time it was
And what a time it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
– “Old Friends” Paul Simon

Had it been more than five years? It must have been. I moved into my house five years ago and he claimed he’d never visited me in this house before.

How long a separation could your friendship withstand? A year? Five? More?

I have to admit, I questioned if we were still friends. You drift apart. People change and grow. What gives friendships their strength, a set of common shared experiences, can also kill them if not nutured. You don’t have to spend time in physcial proximity, of course. In the case of my friend the issue was that we lived 5,000 miles apart. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland and I live in central Utah.

There was a time we saw each other often. We both worked in IT focused on email. He reminded me that it was during my time at Microsoft that we first met.

Your brother Richard did a presentation about GroupWise and at the end he gave his email address as rbliss@novell.com. But, he then joked, “If you can’t remember my address just send it to rbliss@microsoft.com.” So, I did. I think that was when we first met.

I was the “rbliss@microsoft.com” person. Eventually, I left Microsoft and started working as a consultant. (None of us are ever unemployed, we’re just “independent consultants.”) My friend got me a gig doing a Microsoft Exchange to Groupwise migration. It put food on the table for a long time. I later had the opportunity to recommend my friend as a fill in when one of the other consultants became unavailable.

He’s been to my house, well, my old house, many times. Typically while he’s travelling to Provo, UT for business. He hosted me at his house in Scotland for three days during a business trip to Europe. And when one of my daughters was sixteen, she went and spent a month with my friend and his family.

But, the last few years our visits had grown more infrequent. Facebook announced that he was back in Utah, but there were no visits to our house. We still exchanged pleasantries on birthdays, or special family events. But, no more than I would with my neighbors from church.

Perhaps it was the Christmas season when I posted a picture of a new nutcracker I got as a gift that had a kilt and bagpipes.

Our new nutcracker. He will tell interesting stories. . .some of which may be true.

Last week, Facebook once again announced that my friend was travelling from Scotland to Utah.

If you have some time, you’re invited to come visit. Would be great to catch up.

It was the same message I’d posted other times through the years. But, this time the response was almost immeadiate and it was different.

That’s the plan.

That led to him sitting in my living room last week. He came bearing literally pounds of european chocolate. And it was as if we had last parted only a few weeks ago. We hadn’t, of course. In the ensuing months and years, my sixteen year old daughter grew up and got married. My kids wandered through the living room as we talked. Once they found out he had chocolate, they became more attentive. But, most of them had only vague memories of the man who spoke with the funny accent and came bearing chocolate.

His life had changed too. He’d lost his parents, wonderful people that I met when I visited him. He had to shut down his business. His family member had been diagnosed with cancer, that was thankfully later found to be something less serious.

In other words, life happened. I realized that especially for the past year, my friend had an overwhelming amount to deal with. He wasn’t ignoring me, he was focusing on him. . .and his family. But, that’s the thing about old friends. If the friendship is rooted strongly enough, it can survive the winds of change and time.

As we shared stories and memories, my seventeen year old son joined us.

I remember the sight of your dad walking into a Hooters in Fargo, ND. He looked more than a little uncomfortable.

What’s Hooters?

It’s a bar. .

It’s a RESTAURANT!

It’s a bar with waitresses in extremely tight uniforms.

They have great food. And it’s called Hooters because of the Owls!

Like I said, he was pretty uncomfortable.

My friend was excited to learn my son shared an aversion to glutan. They were both celiacs.

You know, you can’t drink beer.

He’s SEVENTEEN! He’s not going to be drinking anything.

However, you can drink whiskey, and wine is, of course perfectly fine.

Could you stop giving my underage son drinking advice?

He’s only underage here in the USA. He’s well above age in Europe. You should come out and visit us.

UNDERAGE! NON-DRINKING Family!

And now, my son is planning a trip to Scotland!

When will my friend and I see one another again? I literally have no idea. I hope it will be sooner than 5 years, but if it’s not, I’m sure that we will still pick up directly where we left off. Old friends are like that.

Are you calling me old?

I didn’t think I needed to state the obvious.

May you be blessed with at least one good friend in your life. Cherish those friendships. Like a fine wine, they grow richer with age.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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