Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why Old Friends are the Best Friends.

It was 1975. On the playground during recess, I played the games of my childhood with other kids who, like me, wore the Catholic school uniform that signified our unity and connection. Black or white, Irish or Italian, Asian or German —we were bonded together in spirit, and for life.

It wasn’t just that we had the same teachers, shared the same prayers, the same coaches and the same hot lunches. It wasn’t just that we were classmates, teammates, bus mates and, at the time, soul mates. We were brothers and sisters, in a sense, with values shaped by nuns who had rulers and rules, and giant hand bells they shook to get our attention.  It was that, molded by all these factors and shared experiences, we understood each other and everything around us without saying a word.

Thirty-five years later,  it’s still true.

An outing with an old friend from the old neighborhood brought back the same comfortable feelings that I had as a kid during afternoon recess.

Like chocolate milk and soft Philly pretzels after morning prayers, we share a bond that can only exist with someone who has known you since childhood, when it was unthinkable to pretend to be something other than what you were. It’s a bond unfazed by a fancy car or a fancy job. It does not judge a messy house or a messy life.  It's just there, accepting, knowing, caring – because someone who knows you from “way back when” still does, in the truest sense, even after 35 years.

And it’s so comfortable.

Old friends bring us back to our roots, helping us see and feel the world as we did when life was simpler, and so were we. They take us down memory lane and catch us up in a blink of an eye, as images flood our brains, and stir our senses. 

When it occurs, we understand how we got this far.

I am 11 years old again and it’s springtime. Sister Mary Agnes is ringing her bell. Recess is over and we rush to get in line.

“Are you ready to get back to work?” the nun asks.

“Yes, Sister,” we reply in unison.

Our shoes click on the playground surface as we begin to walk inside.  We take our seats in wooden desks, and say another prayer.

Our future is shaped in this classroom, she tells us. 

And, yes, so is our past.


  1. wonderful, doreen! you perfectly expressed how i feel every time i talk to an old friend. we all just "get" each other in ways that other people can't understand.

  2. so wonderful, Doreen! So very true - that is how I feel when I talk to my childhood friends on facebook. It brings me back to the good old days.

  3. You are a talented writer...I felt the same thing, only you expressed it beautifully. I am so glad to call you OLD FRIEND.

  4. Great post. You are spot on here. Your elementary and middle school experiences become the core of your being. Experiences in later years modify and mold your personality, but your core is formed in grades K-8.
    Mike (St. Clement's!)

  5. Another amazing blog......and how true!!! Our bonds will remain a lifetime and just pick up where all of us left off at any time!!! Each of Us growing up together are Family....Friendship beyond compare........One great thing about the Catholic schools where the close knitness of Our Families....kept Us all close and still at heart!!! And how We all understand One another goes without saying......;) Many Kudos for this one Dor!!!!! xoxo

  6. Wow, Cuz! You have been blessed with a wonderful gift! That story was beautiful and so true. I love how we can connect with old friends and be transported right back to grade school or high school and wonderful memories!! Thanks for bringing me back! I'm honored and blessed to call you my "old friend"!

  7. You teleported me to the playground and I felt like I was going to be picked as "preztel girl" for the week! Thanks I needed this cheery blog.
    You are one of my treasured "old friends" and I thank you:)michele avallone