Why Keep Old Friends?

October 6, 2009

It’s no good trying to keep up old friendships. It’s painful for both sides. The fact is, one grows out of people, and the only thing is to face it.

–W. Somerset Maugham

When I first found this quote I almost spilled my coffee. What was Maugham thinking? Just because he had a horrible past with friends who stuck his hands in warm water to make him pee, doesn’t give him the right to tell us to ditch our friends of yesteryear.

Because my twenty-fifth high school reunion was held two weeks ago, I’ve been given particular pause to ponder. Reunions can be odd. Thrown face to face with the bitches and belles, the bullies and bad guys can make people a little crazy. Before gathering to reminisce, folks shop for the perfect outfit while others stock up on Tums. If men still have hair, they dye it peculiar shades of blond. Lots of people drink, and others stalk old girlfriends. So why do it to ourselves? Why bother?

Weeks before our latest reunion a friend refused to attend, or ever attend any future reunion. Too overwhelming. News of her dissent circulated at our reunion and created a small uproar. “Who does she think she is to never talk to us again? What was so horrible? People change! There are no cliques anymore. We’re too old for that.” While these sentiments may or may not be true, I was surprised at the wave of displeasure her words generated. Why indeed, keep contact with old friends? Like Maugham said, new friends can replace the old.

Although I could not afford to fly to Ohio for this recent reunion, I have kept contact with former friends. Lots of them. I argue with a few, laugh with a few, and even cry with the best of them. They take me to my roots and remind me of both the person I was and of the person I have become. “Old” friends show me the path I’ve chosen and help explain the journey I’ve taken.

While I may laugh at the guy with hair plugs or roll my eyes at the beauty queen who continues to work the room, I relish in the company of old. No one knows you quite like an old friend. They keep us.



  1. Hello, old friend! — A

  2. “’Old’ friends show me the path I’ve chosen and help explain the journey I’ve taken.” What a great line! That made me really stop and think.

  3. Hey carrie,
    Say hello to dan and the kids for me. It was nice talking to Ti. I hope his swimming is enjoyable for him.
    Carrie I was really impressed by your website although I’ve only scratched the surface. It must have taken a long time to put it together. How did you have time to read all of those books?
    Anyhow I’m doing well enjoying the peace of single life, even if it is a little lonely at times. I took the second job which came along which is working for Subway. The job is fun although the money isn’t great.
    Speaking of money, I’m not too impressed with Colorado. Being the first state to lower the minimum wage hardly constitutes bragging rights.
    I’ll come back to visit your site and delve a little deeper into some of the spiritual stuff and that Tikkun magazine sounds interesting.

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