Musing over this winter–how skiing has been, what I have done, what I haven’t done, and who I had done what with–has led to some introspection on how I socialize and the type of people surround myself with. The truth is that I’ve always made friends easily (in spite of more than a few character flaws) and have never really scraped for people to do things with. Whether it was Wiffle ball in the side yard, beers at night, or a journey to the mountains, finding company was never a struggle. The people who accompanied me the most on these outings were my friends, and my closeness to the person was directly related to how often I saw them (the people who I got out the most with were the people I ended up feeling the closest to). I find myself spending far less time these days in the side yard or at the bars, and more time in the mountains. This year more than ever I’ve found my social circle expanding and encompassing people through life’s various stages: childhood, high school, college, and adulthood.
The truth about me is that I socialize best while doing something. I am not the type of person who can pick up the phone, send a text, or shoot out an email just to say hello or to catch up. The biggest effort I can seem to make is the occasional comment on Facebook, but truth be told I struggle to even keep up on Facebook birthdays. I wish I was better able to immerse myself in friends’ lives (character flaw), but I am not. I envy my friends who are able to stay connected to the people from the past, making a serious effort to stay involved in their friends’ lives in spite of the challenges and busyness of daily life. In fact, one of the things I like the most about these people is that by getting out with them I am able to get updates on all of the friends I don’t see enough of, or have lost contact with.
Life has forced me to expand my social circle as many of my consistent partners from years past no longer possess the availability they once did. Though not ideal, this shift has forced me to seek out new partners, many in the form of old friends…and the timing was pretty good. Winter is a good time to involve new people; most New Englanders have some history with either skiing or snowboarding, which makes finding company to the resort easy, and stoking interest into the backcountry a logical next step. While most of us have some history of skiing, trying to find new climbing partners would have presented a far greater challenge and narrowed the breadth of people I could hope to get out with.
Growing older and having your life change–and your friends’ lives change around you–can make it hard to see each other as often as you once did. There’s a certain closeness you have with the friends that you grew up with that can never be replaced. These are the people who know who you were and the person you have become, as they have seen your life’s path as you’ve grown and changed. That closeness is shared by those you have shared a rope with. Those are the people who have seen you at your best and worst: whether it be a quaking-with-fear, leg-shaking lead or a proud, bold send. The brotherhood of the rope is a true and intense bond, one that time cannot quickly surmount. The fact remains that despite not seeing these people as often as I should once we are on a lift, in a skin track, or roped together that closeness is immediately brought back. Even if we haven’t seen each other for months, it feels like we haven’t missed a day.
While I miss the consistency that comes with going out with a tight knit group (you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, you know the pace of the day, and often know what the other is thinking), I have enjoyed getting out and re-establishing some older relationships. I had forgotten the power of being out and doing something, and never realized the powerful effect it has on me and how I relate to others.