Volume 96, Issue 87
Friday, March 14, 2003

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The ever-changing face of friendship

Ryan Dixon
Managing Editor

One day they're just there. You don't know how they got there, the really good ones anyway – all you know is there are times in your life when you couldn't exist without them. Then, inevitably, you discover an unexplainable distance between even the best of them. Old friends are a funny bunch.

What I remember most about coming to university is that nobody knew me. I didn't care, though. Why bother with new faux friendships that I was certain could never take the place of my real friends back home? Five years later, "real" has become a relative term.

There have been too many awkward pauses and too many struggles for words for me to deny that some of my old friends have become outdated friends. Don't let the solemn tone of that sentiment fool you; it's not necessarily a bad thing.

It's a commonly accepted – and I suspect fairly accurate – notion that people change. However, the major catalyst in the ever-evolving dynamic of friendships is not the altering of personalities, but the changing of circumstance.

We humans tend to be a self-absorbed, elitist gang. Translation: we like to talk about ourselves to people who are in the know about our lives. It should take a minimal amount of head scratching to realize these people are the ones we currently spend our days going to class with, watching Survivor with and, for some unfortunate souls, spending hours on end producing a newspaper with.

Roommates, classmates and co-workers are our friends of the moment. They know about your tendency to leave the seat up, or that pretentious prick in your history class you both want to kill.

So, why does it still unsettle us to have conversations with old friends that add up to nothing more than, "So... stuff, eh?" It's because we don't want to believe that the people who knew us best and who we, in turn, understood better than anyone, could become a pseudo stranger. It's not a comforting thought, but I'll try to make it up to you with this one.

Despite the fact they don't play as prominent of a role as they once did, old friends and flames will always fill a niche. Think of it in terms of your musical taste. You might listen Coldplay's "Clocks" and feel it speaks to the 2003 model of you, but realistically, there will always be a special home reserved for Guns 'N' Roses' "Paradise City" in your playlist.

There is something extremely satisfying about falling into a deep conversation with someone who you don't have to explain yourself to because they just know. Maybe they don't know what causes your little day-to-day headaches, but they understand the greater importance of what makes your heart ache.

Luckily, there are some friends – both old and new – that come in exciting "super friend" packaging. That is to say, you share pet peeves and big dreams with them simultaneously. Always value the strength and courage these friends provide, because those same characteristics are what you're going to need to take with you when circumstances inevitably dictate change once again.




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