Friend Clouds

Good friends of ours; Julian, Marilyn and Darien Lombardi; are moving away to North Carolina for new jobs at Duke. The opportunities that they were offered sound wonderful and I can’t blame them at all for accepting their offers. I was thinking about how friends move away and how unstable our society is now.

My parents got married during World War II. When the “boys came home”, they went off to college at University of Utah with their friends. All of them lived together in married student housing. After graduating, the whole gang moved to Salt Lake City into the same neighborhood – Rose Park. This group was friends for the rest of my parent’s lives – 50 years I would guess. They got together for dinner and parties. They went through the bridge craze of the 70s and the original tiki party phase. They were together for almost their whole lives. They could talk and compare their life trajectories and the changes and shifts in their beings. They had people who knew them when they were “young” and whom they watched grow old. The had partners on this long path we walk.

I have friends from my childhood: Brian Durney who I first met when I was 4 years old, John Millsaps who I met at 15, Bill Lockhart (who is my brother’s wife’s brother) who I’ve known since I was 12 or so. I occasionally see these people. We have been scattered to the winds… well, John didn’t scatter too far – he is still in Salt Lake and Brian did scatter to the winds but he has returned to Utah, Bill is off-and-of in Utah. OK. I’ve been scattered to the winds. There. I confess.

I had a tight group of friends in Palo Alto, California. Jen is now in L.A.. Michelle is in Hawaii. Kat has disappeared but is rumored to be in Woodside, CA. Lisa works in L.A. and lives in Mountain View (that crazy kid). I have had off-and-of contact with Michelle and Lisa via chat (instant messaging). Jen has sent Christmas notes. But, that group was also scattered to the winds.

Ena and I had tight friends in Corvallis, OR. Peggy was killed in a car wreck. Others moved to Seattle. We moved away.

And now here in Madison. We had formed a good circle of friends. Mairead and Sharon, Julian and Marilyn, Keith and Kathleen, Scott and Gloria. Two of the pairs have separated. Julian and Marilyn are moving away. Scott took another job that has kept him very busy so we lost social contact for the Summer.

It seems that the circles of friends form and crack like ice on the rivers. We gather and have strength. We tighten and can carry each other then the heat comes and everything cracks and chunks flow away.

I envy the elder generation who had those lifelong friends to share their aging and growing, who saw each other’s children grow, who were there when times were tough or delightful. When I think back to all of the weddings in our family – the same crowd was there on the Phelps side. I saw the same crowd at the funerals for both my parents.

We may be upwardly mobile in our carriers but what a deficit we have wrought upon friendships.

We will miss you dearly Julian, Marilyn and Darien.