I spend a lot of my life being So Fascinated. I am So Fascinated by people, by animals, by nature, simply by the way things work. I am nearly constantly In Awe of Something. Those of you who know me in real life are chuckling to yourselves now, as you are undoubtedly familiar with my rapturous explanations and swirling thought processes. It's why I was a psych major, I think-- because I just can't help being Amazed, particularly by people.
Right now, the subject of my amazement has been How Friendships Evolve. I know, I know. It sounds like a psych study, doesn't it? "How friendships evolve: A multidimensional study of female friendships between the ages of 6 and 83" or whatever. But, while I think that would actually be a very interesting study, and I would be So Fascinated to read it, that's not my point at all.
My point is more... So, you know when you are having dinner with a friend? And you realize that Wow, you have known them for X years? And you think of all the things that the younger version of yourselves didn't know? All of the things you couldn't have predicted? Yeah. That.
This summer, I danced at Daisy's wedding. I knew, knew for a fact, that she was 25 years old. But, honestly, I couldn't see her as anything but an 8 year old. I saw us swimming in the pool in her backyard, taking my dog for a walk (on two leashes, so we could each hold one) (this was a tiny dog, mind you), building enormous forts in her family room. I saw sunburns, and birthday parties, and family trips. And, if I focused my eyes just right, and really concentrated-- well, then I could see a woman; a bride.
I have been having this experience a lot, lately. On Monday, Lynn and I got drinks after work. As we were leaning close together, laughing or shaking our heads ruefully, sharing the details of our lives, I had a flashback to about when we had first met. No, honestly, I remembered when I had first learned about her. I was working for the K family over the summers, and had been part of a nanny share with the S family that first year (2006). During the school year, I learned that the S family was going to hire a nanny of their own, and we would all essentially turn into one large playgroup over the summer. (The playgroup wasn't required, mind you, but it was predicted. The kids were all very good friends.) I wondered about this. While I was excited by the idea of a colleague, I was a bit skeptical. Part of this was due to KK's interest in how Lynn and I would get along. We were very different people, he informed me. Part of it was due to my natural hesitancy when it comes to meeting new people. And the most embarrassing part (that I will only JUST NOW admit, 7 years later) is that I was really worried that the kids would all like her better.
Sitting on the other end of this, drinking beer with the woman I worried so much over meeting, I can't help but laugh. Of course the kids sometimes liked her better-- just like they sometimes liked me better. They're kids. And we are different people (KK was not wrong), but not in a way that ever has prevented us from being friends. We are both enthusiastic, energetic, caring people. She is a hilarious goof who would wrestle with the kids and run around for hours. I am the creative type, who will advocate for painting in shaving cream, or hanging up water balloon piñatas. We complemented each other beautifully, and thoroughly enjoyed our time together. And, somewhere along the line, after hours of hanging out with the kids, we became actual friends.
When thinking about these evolutions, I almost think of friendships as a cross-section. What you see on the outside conceals so many mesmerizing layers underneath. Thinking along these lines is almost unavoidable once I start. I see the kids as all of their ages at once, occasionally blindsided when I realize how grown up they are. I send a birthday greeting to a friend on her 26th birthday, and can't help but remember when she turned 14. She's a lawyer now, but I will always sort of see her as the skinny blonde girl with freckles and a school uniform, who I met on the first day of 7th grade at my new British school in Taiwan. When I see friends from college, I am amazed by everything that has happened in only seven short years-- the depth of the friendship we share, the arc of experiences behind and ahead of us.
I'm just... fascinated.