I love the notion of a time capsule, though I’ve never participated in compiling one. I have a “memory box” in my closet, containing birthday cards, movie tickets, photographs, and a smattering of other odd mementos from plastic-ware to VCR parts that hold meaning to (almost) no one but me. Even so, my greatest memories are stored in the more vivid, but less tangible “time capsule” of my mind, where they await the opportunity to reminisce with me over the past.
Last weekend, the weather was finally showing signs of spring, and I took my friend Andrea up on the offer to go for a drive. She picked me up in her Mustang and with our sunglasses on and the windows down, we hit the open road. I have been friends with her longer than anyone else, as we started playing together before we were out of diapers.
When you’ve been friends with someone for almost thirty years, you’ve certainly seen a lot of changes. As kids, Andrea preferred to stay inside, reading a book, while I was trying to outrun, outlast, and out-maneuver the boys outside in the yard. Now, she goes camping and mud-bogging while I tend to stay inside, listening to music and scrapbooking photographs. I jump at any chance to travel somewhere new, but she savors the small town life. She sings along to country radio, and I talk endlessly about my latest indie-folk-rock discoveries. The simple fact of the matter is that we don’t have a lot in common anymore. For a while, I really struggled with that. It didn’t seem right that, after so many years, our paths should diverge and go separate ways.
Yet, something occurred to me as we were in that car, headed toward the town where we both grew up: whoever we are now and whoever we become, we have a never-ending bond. We found ourselves driving down back roads we hadn’t ridden since we were sixteen, laughing about how we used to stop at Goode Store every day for Doritos and Mountain Dew on our way home from school, and remembering how ridiculous I’d look when I put on a pair of her big sunglasses over my prescription glasses to keep from squinting into the sun. Back then, we’d surf the stations and debate over which boy band was better. This time, we listened to a mix I made, full of music intended to bridge the gap between her taste and mine.
Our day together was not meant to be a trip down memory lane, but it did serve as a great reminder of what makes a friendship. As kids, our friendship grew out of proximity. In our teen years, we were probably as much alike as two people might ever hope to be. As adults, though, our friendship doesn’t rely on either of those things. Now, we are friends because we are interested in one another, whether or not our individual interests overlap, and that is a stronger connection than the ephemeral things of this world can offer. This is a journey that has carried us through our lives thus far, and I am only left to wonder where it will lead us next. Wherever that is, I am sure we have not shared the last of those back roads.