Sunday, September 28, 2008

Old Friends, New Friends

My mother has had some of the same friends her entire life. This fact is not so extraordinary among older generations. You see, my mother has lived in the same house her entire life. She has ventured farther than that to go on vacations. Some of the women she went to grammar school or high school with have also stayed close to home. Yes, my mother has also made new friends along her journey through life.

Prior to 1940, most Americans lived in small towns and rural areas. After World War II, most Americans lived in urban or suburban areas. During much of the time from the founding of this country until mid-century, most people never ventured more than 20 miles from their home. In some parts of the country you can still find people like that who buy a house and settle in just a short drive from their parents or siblings. My mother's generation was also the last in which people would get a job with one company and stay with it until they retired.

Today, the average American moves every five years. Many moves are work related, and some are simply because they prefer to live in a different climate. Sometimes divorces trigger moves and sometimes moves trigger divorces. It is estimated that the average boomer has changed jobs 10 times during their working life. Other estimates on career change indicate that the average American changes careers 3-7 times during their working life. The definitions have some wiggle room depending on how a person defines job or career. No matter how you define it, there is obviously lots of movement.

With all this movement comes lots of changes in friends. We meet new people where we live and in our new jobs. It is simply more practical to hang out with people who are in our new neighborhood than someone who is a thousand miles away.

Sometimes though, we would have changed friends if we were all in the same town. We may have simply outgrown old friends as our paths went different ways. For example, when I was younger, my social life revolved around bar hopping. But as I grew older and changed careers, different things began to interest me. After a succession of business related moves I found that getting acclimated to a new town on the other side of the country could be made smoother by joining Sierra Club, going to contra dances, or going to art fairs and psychic fairs.

After one particular move, I went to a psychic fair out of curiosity. Then I started checking out various workshops, events and got interested in metaphysics in general. I am certain that I would not have developed these interests had I not moved.

Along the way then, my friends changed. This, I think, is natural. As we change, we need friends who can relate to the way we see the world now, to the things we enjoy doing now.

Living in one house my entire life, working for one company my entire life would not have suited me. I wanted to experience some of the rest of the world, not just visit it for a week on vacation. I am glad that I have changed careers and made new friends. There are moments when I am prompted to think about all these changes, of old friends and new friends and the evolutions we have all gone through over the years.

No comments: