Friendship, Cotton and the “Pause” Button: August 2 2009

There’s nothing simple about this friendship.

It goes back ~ 30 years with middle school gawkiness branded all over it. Recently, I had the opportunity to share some beautiful time, over several weekends, with friends from my childhood. Some of them, I have stayed in touch with over the years. Others, I connected with after ~ 25 years.

Whether over a glass of chilled beer, or some wonderful Spanish food in Las Olas or a dinner at our home, it seemed that our friendship was just put on a “pause” button. When we resumed, the doors of the memory banks opened up quickly, and generously.

Remembering those wonderful “addas” at the home of a friend in (Paribag) Dhaka, or the trips we had taken together to Chittagong, or the times we would bicycle around Dhanmondi Road # 21… all colorful pieces of a kaleidoscope of memories, vibrant and rotating in multiple prisms and becoming more together as the light shines through.

Why is it difficult (almost impossible) to make great friends like these, over again?

As we grow older and move from city to city, we do make good friends, no question; yet the fabric of our new friendships, are different than those we started 25 or 30 years ago.

Maybe it is because of the vulnerabilities of our mutual circumstances at that time, or the common circumstances that created webs of memories that intertwine into something we define as: happiness.

These “vintage” friends, with whom we have many childhood memories, tolerate our past idiosyncrasies and don’t judge our current circumstances. There is no real pretension of who you are or where you come from. The texture of this relationship is like organic cotton, smooth but with some rough spots; durable and meaningful…connected at the core.

Recently, few such friends came together in Chicago at the high school graduation for a friends’ son. We relish the grilled lamb and chicken biriyani, music flows from all dimensions, the rain soothes our souls when we catch up on the past and talk about the future with anticipation.

In a relatively short time, we chill back and remember our past: The taste of the hamburger at “Peter’s Canteen” at St. Joseph’s, those stressful school exams, or how our parents never really understood us (or supported what we wanted); we talk about the anxiety of getting into a US University or getting a student visa at the American embassy in the mid 80’s. It’s this shared sense of anxiety, uncertainty and common ambition to seek something higher, that brings our experiences closer.

We take extra effort in discussing how we can’t impose our views on our children. We want to be “friends” with our kids. My fourteen year old senses our friendship and comes to tell me how nice these friends are. Some of them are actually “cool”. The DJ plays a mixed series of music that brings back many memories of our high school/college days.

The party never seems to end. We continue on a velvet sofa at the lounge singing along with old Bangla or Hindi songs that we know another common friend of ours did such an wonderful imitation of Runa Laila, “Aire, megh Aire”.

It’s 3 am. Someone orders a pizza… we talk about going by Lake Michigan to watch the sunrise; we never even make it out of the door. Just sitting there and talking about nothing discernible. Some friends have fallen asleep right beside us… still cannot pull ourselves away from the group.

Inherently we understand the limitation of our time together; this preciousness of fond memories that we are trying to always stretch like elastic.

It’s good that cotton does stretch a bit; with a little bit of care, it lasts for a very long time; the color may fade over time, but faded cotton still has a wonderful feel when you wear it after a long time. It soothes your soul.

Looking forward to storing my cotton carefully and wearing my friendship… for a long long time.


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