This text is written from the perspective of a 25-30 years old person. People from different age groups might not relate as well.
Let’s begin with a good image. Picture the first person who comes to mind when you read the phrase ‘old friend’, one that you’re still friends with. Keep this friend in your mind for some time.
Now you probably care about this person and as far as I can imagine, at some point, you people moved apart thanks to school, college, job, parents’ job, etc. If not, wow! But most people in my know will be able to relate to this. Most people above 25 years of age have a dear friend who they cannot meet unless they travel across cities (or states, countries, continents, planets?). This means that we are unable to meet our dear people on a regular basis, meaning that we only get to meet these people on occasions where you end up in the same city, most often the hometown. This is the reason festivals become special when you grow up. Remember, when you wrote in essays about festivals, how visitors come and bring gifts?
This weird phase that we’re in is going to last a maximum of 5 years, leniently. There’s a nearly imminent transition that we’re all approaching at our own paces – called starting a family, getting married, ‘settling down’. I’m not trying to scare you of marriage, but should know that it is quite life altering. I have close, close friends who are married and we’ve hardly hung out ever since. It’s engaging to that level and beyond. One cannot quite hang out the same way with friends post marriage, not even as frequently as every festival ever. When an over 3-member-group hangs out after the members get married, it is called a reunion.
But we have time before we get there, we just met our friends during the Diwali break that just went by. It was fun and we talked about the good old days and the horrible bosses we have now. You can still feel the warmth of this meeting in your heart, and in the rejuvenated buzz on the WhatsApp group. If you don’t want this buzz to fade, stop reading immediately. The weather is about to change when I tell you that there is a number attached to these warm, nostalgic and fun hangouts. And this number is a single digit one. I’m not making an enormous assumption when I say that you’re not going to meet your old friends as an unmarried person any more than 9 times from this day on, edge cases aside.
Before you know it, you’ll be meeting again. This time, at the wedding of such a friend. This will be the day when that number we discussed earlier will drop to zero. Beyond this point, with each meeting, every meeting will become more of a meeting and less of a hang out. You will meet a few times before you feel the transition. In these few times, you will feel or try to feel that nothing has changed. But sooner or later, you will realize how something’s changed. This realization hits you hard. Shakes you up, rendering you suddenly lonely and in desire of a time machine. Because that will be the only thing with the power of making things as they were.
Now let me just take a second to congratulate you on your bravery. I would’ve stopped reading and started shaking two paragraphs ago. I did shake, internally, when the realization happened to me over a year ago. And it was then that I decided to proactively extract as much flavor from these hangouts as I can. I see myself traveling to friends’ cities many times and for many days. I see myself valuing friends like never before. I see myself preparing like never before. I see myself lonely like never before. No matter whose company accompanies you, after the point above, no company will accompany you enough. This point is unavoidable, as far as I can tell. Therefore, do not try to avoid it. Instead, cherish.
Relish each chance that you get to meet your people. And if you recently turned down a chance to meet the close ones in favor of staying in bed, undo it. That’s 90% of what you’ll get to do for the decades to come anyway.