“Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” Remember that song from Girl Scouts? At least, that’s where I learned it. It made for a great campfire round, but is there any truth to it? Are old friends better than new ones? Or, for that matter, are new friends better than old?
I’ve lost track of some of my oldest friends, the ones that go back to childhood. Some I know where they are but we don’t talk anymore, and some I have no idea where they are now. The beauty of Facebook has been the ability to reconnect with old friends. I’ve “friended” old classmates I would not have necessarily considered a “friend” back then, but that I do now. Does that make them a new friend, or an unrecognized old friend?
Then there are my somewhat old friends, the people I grew close to when living in western New York State for 30 years. Between Facebook and email and ever expanding/improving cell plans they’re easy to keep in touch with…although, even then we’re not always good at it.
Now I’m making new friends here in northwest Wisconsin. Some are neighbors, some fellow church members, co-workers, and many are also writers. I’d have a hard time if required to label some of them as “gold” and some of them as “silver”, especially if based solely on how long I’ve known them. My friends are my friends and I hold them all equally close to my heart.
Mary, the heroine in my novel Mary Bishop, is struggling with feeling alone now that her husband has died. She has formed a friendship with the minister’s new young wife, Frances, but mourns the loss of her friends from her past in Virginia. Some died during the War, while others moved on after the fighting ended and she no longer knows where they are, or if they even still live. But there is one, her friend Sarah, who did keep in touch after moving west. Mary wonders why they eventually stopped writing, and is her friend still living in Minnesota? She writes Sarah in hopes of finding her old friend. She thinks her old friend will be the answer to her problems, more so than her new friend. Does that make Sarah a “gold” friend and Frances a “silver” friend? Especially once she finds out the role Frances played in bringing the two back together.
Perhaps the label of “gold” or “silver” changes with the moment. Perhaps which is your answer depends on what is your question.