(This post prompted by Joan d'Arc's recent post)
My father wasn't military, but we still moved quite frequently when I was growing up. I always held on to the friendships I made in every city and often wondered what happened to my childhood buddies. So when I found myself back in the city I was born in, I decided to look up my best friend from kindergarten. Since she has a unique name -- Google says there's only one of her -- she was easy to find, and she'd apparently lived in the same house her whole life. I took a deep breath and called, imagining how fun it'd be to catch up on the past 12 years of our lives.
She had no idea who I was.
She faked it pretty well, but I could just tell that "I'm the girl you used to play My Little Ponies with" wasn't ringing any bells. We talked for a while, and she was pleasant and sweet, but when we got off the phone, I was devastated. How could my best friend not have any memory of me whatsoever?
I have learned over the years that different people view friendships differently. Some people hang on tightly and think that Best Friends Forever is legal and binding. Other people promise to keep in touch when they PCS and you never hear from them again. I have gradually felt myself sliding from the first category to somewhere in the middle.
Joan d'Arc is right that the big Christmas lists are fun. I enjoy hearing from people, even if it's only once a year. I love photo cards so I can see their kids grow up. And I have learned that it's OK to let go of the iron grip I used to have on friendships and look forward to the new people who will enter my life in the next duty station. I'm learning to enjoy the fluidity of friendships in the military.
And I still google that kindergarten friend on occasion, just to keep up with all the great work she does in neuroscience and molecular biology. Seriously. She's come a long way since My Little Pony.