Discussion Post: Who Here is Still Friends With People From Elementary School? High School? College?

Honestly, I’m curious! Angie and I were just talking about the film “June” where our heroine stays close to her group of school friends into adulthood, which was not our experience. I’m interested in learning about other people, are you like me and Angie, or are you like a movie?

I’ll start!

I grew up in a wonderful neighborhood of family houses. My best friend lived across the street, and my two back up friends lived behind me and next door. That was the center of my childhood social life far more than school. My next door friend didn’t even go to the same school as us, she went to the Catholic school not the public. And the public schools moved us around every few years, so you never really knew who was going to be in your class year by year.

1407 Holmes Ave., Springfield, IL 62704
This isn’t my house, this is the one right across the street. The white one to the left is where my best friend lived. I just wanted you to see how close together the houses are. You could go out on the front porch and see who else was on their porch and wanting to play all up and down the street. Or do massive hopscotch games that went across sidewalks of multiple houses.

By the time I went to college, I was still very close to my across the street friend. But then her family moved and instead of just running across the street to see each other it was this whole elaborate thing that had to be planned in advance. I saw her maybe once my senior year of college when I was home on break, and then she went to grad school and my parents moved too, and I have seen her/heard from her once in the past 15 years. This was my best friend age 4 to 18, and I honestly have no idea where she is living, if she has kids, anything about her. Huh.

College, I had two super close friends, my roommate and my best friend. I spent pretty much 24 hours a day with one or the other of them. Post-graduation, I made a point to see my roommate maybe once a month, but it got harder with us not living together any more. My best friend, I talked to on the phone almost once a day and I took a long over night bus journey to visit her maybe once a month. And then her med school hours got crazy and it was harder for us to talk, and my job changed and it was harder for me to visit, and she moved back to Chicago which should have made it easier but somehow we ended up just drifting apart and I haven’t spoken to her in about 8 years and have no idea what is happening with her life.

And then 12 years ago, post-college, I hit the friends that are still in my life. From jobs, from church groups, from mutual acquaintances who introduced us, I ended up with the list of friends who are my life line right now, the ones I do virtual movie nights with and drive by present drop offs and have known so long and so well that we don’t need to meet face to face to feel close.

That’s not what I usually see in pop culture, that school friends and college friends are less important than the post-college adult friends. And that these super intense close friendships can just fade into literally nothing. But it’s been my experience.

Forget going on a life changing road trip, I haven’t even been invited to attend a single wedding! My close friends are the folks I met when they were already too mature for a big wedding, or married already.

How about you? Are you close to your childhood/college friends or are you like me? Do you tend to leap into intense close friendships or more hold back? Do you think something made a difference in your life to make you that way, besides just basic personality?

28 thoughts on “Discussion Post: Who Here is Still Friends With People From Elementary School? High School? College?

  1. I’m in touch only with two of my roomates from University. They were present at my wedding and I was invited to theirs (but didn’t go because they live far and at the first wedding I was pregnant, and was affraid to travel so far in a car, and at the second I thought I won’t be invited and planned my holidays in Poland in a different period; I still regret it).
    I lost contact with one of them for few years, but this year (thanks to Covid) she found my email and reached out to me because she was worried. We met in Poland these Summer.

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    • That’s so great that COVID ended up bringing you closer with an old friend.

      Do you have closer friends since university, like me?

      On Tue, Dec 15, 2020 at 10:57 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Unfortunately no. I married and moved to a little town in Italy after my graduation. Being an emigrant and an introvert doesn’t help me make friends.

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        • Angie- I thought of you the other day. Did you know that Rati Agnihotri and her sister own a bunch of Indian and Asian restaurants in Szczecin, Poland?! Have you ever been to Szczecin? I so want to hear your review of one of her restaurants!

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          • I’m from south-east part of Poland and Szczecin is extreme north-west and I have never been there. But from what I read the restaurants are very popular, especially the newest one.

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  2. Interesting post.
    I was born in North Africa and raised with my 5 older half-brothers in Italy. My father did a “Doctors Without Borders” thing and we lived in poor, war-torn towns all over Spain, Portugal, France, and across the ocean in Central America and the Virgin Islands. We finally settled in Bronx, NY when I was 14. I was already in the habit of finding whatever I needed in the way of friendship at home, so that’s where I pretty much stayed. Altho I was sent to school, I couldn’t speak English and the nuns, to my extreme embarrassment, put me in first grade. Not only was I too big for the tiny desks, I was made to do chores for the little ones like putting on coats, toileting, serving lunches and cleaning up. Eventually I complained to my father and was placed in the high school. But I was already mistrustful which made me unfriendly. I attended college during the hippie Summer of Love era and suddenly EVERYBODY was my friend. I married a year after graduation and made couples and work friends most of whom I still have and very much miss during this enforced quarantine.
    Wow, your innocent question dragged up a lot of memories.

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    • Your school experience sounds a little like mine. Not the details behind it, but that when I was a kid my sister was always my closest friend and most of my memories and fun times and all revolved around the family household. There wasn’t so much of a need for making close friends outside the family. And then when I was fully out in the world on my own, that changed.

      On Tue, Dec 15, 2020 at 11:34 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. I’ve travelled so much and been in so many schools so keeping friends has been hard. The bullying didn’t help matters and that it was the emotional manipulation and isolating kind kinda screwed me over when it came to people. Trust is still a big issue with me, and I don’t do it lightly or with just everyone. Still working on those little at a time.

    There is some other stuff there as well, but since this is all public I won’t write it here. But yeah, living abroad has its perks, but also its bad sides.

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    • Huh. You and Maria actually had the same childhood, which is not a common childhood. To intellectualize this for a second, isn’t it interesting that two people who were open to falling in love with artwork from outside their culture to the point of seeking out this blog community, also had an international childhood? I’m gonna argue that it made both of you a little bit more open to unusual connections.

      On Tue, Dec 15, 2020 at 1:57 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I immigrated to the US from India in middle school and without access to the technologies we have today, it was impossible to keep in touch with my friends there. Making friends with people in middle school was almost impossible because I was probably the first and maybe only new kid that looked and spoke differently that my classmates in my small town had seen. And middle schoolers are generally giant bullying jerks. In highschool I had about three close friends. Most of them live in or near my home town, which as I mentioned is very small, so I know what is happening in their lives but I probably have not spoken to them in years. The friend I was closest to moved to NYC and while I don’t speak with her too often, we will try to meet up if I am ever in NY for work. I would probably consider her my oldest friend that I am still in touch with.

    I was very close to my roommate in college and we basically spent 24 hours together. However, similar to your situation, we drifted apart and I haven’t spoken to her in probably over 10 plus years.

    The friends I consider my lifeline I met when I moved to DC for work. I am as transferred here shortly after college and knew almost no one. But I guess there are a lot of people like me in DC – I call them transplants. One guy who I met through work invited me to hang out with him and his guy friends who lived near each other and played poker every week and somehow our friend circle grew into this extended family that I have now. We adopted a whole bunch of people along the way (just like they did with me) and even though most of us don’t live near each other, the friendship is ever lasting. For example, even thought I came into this “group” through this guy, his now wife who he met about a year after I met him became one of my closest friends and I was a bridesmaid at her wedding in her home country. This guy and his wife are the older brother/sister I never knew I was wanted! During their wedding I became close to her old college roommate and 7 years later I was in her wedding and I speak to her almost weekly. And I can go on and on. Like now, my sister actually works with one of the my guy friends who was part of this group. Oh and none of us are remotely in the same industry! It is always difficult when we all get together to explain how we all know each other but I cannot imagine my live without this group of friends.

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    • Huh. Another “young adult friendships are the ones that last” person. This makes me selfishly feel good, I always felt kind of weird about how my relationships before age 23 have been just totally erased from my life. But maybe that’s almost normal? The hothouse of childhood and college creates relationships that the “real world” maybe can’t sustain?

      Also, with you and Maria and Kirre, I am thinking DCIB needs to spend way WAY more time talking about “othering” and difference and feeling out of place. What would be a good thing for that? How’s Never Have I Ever, does it do a good job with teenage angst and outsider feeling?

      On Tue, Dec 15, 2020 at 5:27 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • That’s a great question about “othering.” I, personally, really like NHIE but I don’t know how well it incorporates the concept of othering because these kids have know each other forever and it is unclear if the others besides the main character feels out of place. Let me think about it a little bit. This may be worth asking other DCIBer also?

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  5. I also had a peripatetic childhood. I left Virgina just at the end of elementary school and lost touch with everyone, though people from our block stayed my mother’s closest friends. I had loads of friends in Middle School in Tokyo but lost touch with all of them when we moved back to the States. Again, in 9th grade, I made loads of friends and then left all of them and moved to Brussels for High School. Lost touch with all of them. Then High School: one of my best friends is a high school friend (but she moved to NYC, so it was easy) and we are still close. A couple of other of HS friends stayed friends for 10 or 15 years, but then we drifted. College is where it really begins: 2 two other close friends are college friends (though I did lose one of my college bests) and my husband can count as a college friend. I have several friends from graduate school and my two other closest friends are from my synagogue community and we’ve been friends for 30-40 years. I have often wondered if there had been facebook, might I have kept more of the distant friends. I keep in touch with students all over the world that way now.
    Not sure why I went through this whole litany, but here is my question: many of you talk about bullying…how and why does that happen. “Kids are mean” is not enough. My real adult sadnesses did not accumulate until much later.

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    • I don’t know if Facebook would have made a difference necessarily. I have it, in theory I could easily keep track of all my past friends, and yet I don’t. Even the people I know who are super active on social media don’t necessarily use it to keep up with friends from childhood, more just their current social group. Maybe it’s just people.

      I’m not an expert on bullying, but my Mom and I just had an interesting exchange today. We were talking about something in my childhood and she said “you were such a strange kid, it’s odd you were never bullied” (which is true, for instance I liked to wear 3 hats all winter because my ears got cold). And then I thought about it and realized I was bullied, it just didn’t take. I had a speech defect until I was about 9, and I distinctly remember some boys in class making fun of how I said my name. And I remember just being confused by the interaction, like, “what are they doing?” I didn’t have any response to it at all, beyond, “yeah, that’s my name?” And then it stopped, because I wasn’t any fun. So the same weird kid who is going to end up running DCIB years later will not be bullied (or will not feel bullied at least and therefore will disappoint the bullies) if she has a ton of friends and a loving family and lives in the same town her whole childhood and is part of the mainstream ethnicity/race/religion and so on and so forth. You have to be an “other” somehow maybe, while I was more of an “eccentric but one of us” in how I saw myself in the world and how I was seen by the world.

      My best friend growing up, the one who lived across the street, she was an “other” both in how she was seen and how she saw herself, and she got bullied. I stayed her friend and no one ever bullied me.

      I guess what I am saying is that being a middle class white person in the American midwest is awesome.

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  6. Hmm, is there some sort of connection between moving a lot as a child and liking Indian film? I always figured my childhood moving around the US was the reason I feel so comfortable as a life-long expat, but maybe explains my film preferences as well. Anyway, like you, my best friend was my sister pretty much until college, although I had friends in high school and we keep in touch through FB. College was where I made really close friendships, but immediately after college my friends got married and had babies and I moved to Japan. Eventually our lives just got really different and we drifted apart, although we keep up on FB as well. I made some good friends in grad school, but actually my closest friends have been since I turned 40. Those are the friends I go to New Zealand and Hong Kong and Finland to visit., and we often message and write.

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    • Maybe it’s something about maturity bringing the ability to cultivate those friendships? To write and visit and so on like you wouldn’t do when you were younger? Or just having more in common as you find friends through mutual interests.

      I am really interested by how many people so far have mentioned a childhood moving around! Maybe it just makes you more open to a life of the mind, to enjoying and discussing fictional worlds that are stable instead of the real world which is changing?

      On Tue, Dec 15, 2020 at 9:15 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. Hmmm, if it weren’t for FaceBook I would say that I’ve lost touch with so many of my old friends, but friends from birth (basically family friends of my parents), high school, college, living abroad, late 20s living in SF…. many of them I am still friends with, but perhaps wouldn’t be if it weren’t for FaceBook. It isn’t that I wouldn’t want to be friends with them without FaceBook, but I’m not the best at keeping in touch.

    The woman I call my best friend, probably isn’t actually my best friend, she is more like a sister. We have known each other since birth. We went to high school together and share high school friends, some of whom I really got to keep in touch with because she did. She is good at keeping in touch, partly because she is bad at doing things out of her comfort zone so she is good at keeping up with the people she knows and inviting them to see her at and near her home. Interesting how strengths and weaknesses play into each other so that a weakness becomes a strength.

    I went to the same fancy private school from second to eighth grade. I don’t have any friends from that school. But my husband, has a strong group of friends who went to elementary and then high school, and many then college together. The wives of this crew have referred to each other as sister-in-laws. Happy sister-in-laws. I am missing our Christmas gathering very much.

    I am still in touch with many from high school through FaceBook, and still consider them friends. And I’m in touch with college friends on FaceBook, but I don’t actually consider them real friends. Hmmm.

    I have three good friends in Berlin, one of whom I don’t really keep in touch with, but I still think of him as a friend, a good friend, even if I haven’t talked to him two years. (The other’s I keep up with on FaceBook).

    And I have two close friends here. But kids can interfere with the upkeep friendships require, and sometimes I realize we’re not as close as I think. I have other friends, friends that could be close if I had the time to invest in the friendships. This is why I like SRK, my movie friend, no upkeep required.

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    • I am jealous of you having a friend-like-a-sister from childhood. When my sister and I were growing up, we spent a lot of time with the families of my Mom’s two best friends, but we would never have been friends with those kids on our own necessarily. I think of them as more like cousins, they will always be in my life, I care deeply about what happens to them, but we don’t actually share that many common interests or experiences.

      Really interesting, your point about your friend’s weakness becoming a strength. I see that in my larger family a little bit, the family member with the fewest close connections is the one who does all the work to keep the farther apart connections connected. I see this in multiple family groups, both sides of my family, the one who is doing the family gathering organization and making sure we all know when someone is in the hospital and so on is often the person with no spouse/children of their own.

      Did your husband grow up in the same small town/rural area where you now live? Because this would fit my theory that the small town zones where all the kids go to the same school and see each other everywhere their whole lifes lead to closer adult connections than cities where schools change and stuff. I have a couple friends who grew up together in a small town, and their parties are always so interesting because it is this squad of people who all grew up together, and then all moved to the city together.

      Interesting about the line between college and high school. In my parents’ generation, college was where they made the real life long friends they didn’t outgrow. But now that I think about it, I haven’t really heard about that with anyone I know who is younger. Maybe that whole “best time of your life, lifelong friendships” idea of college was something that was only in a particular moment in time?

      Kids take so much time! One of my oldest friends has a three year old, and all of a sudden it was really really hard for us to get together. The pandemic has been a blessing because now we can do movie nights virtually, while she chases after her daughter.

      On Tue, Dec 15, 2020 at 9:50 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Actually my husband grew up on the other side of the Bay (South Bay Area, CA) from me (East Bay, CA), in a large wealthy city where he had the bad luck of being privately poor. I don’t have a reason, for why his group of friends are so strong, but two out of his three brothers also have strong groups of friends from elementary school and high school. It could be personality, it could be the area, it could be his parents, disorganized and chaotic, but very involved in church and the Boy Scouts, and welcoming of all children, regardless of reputation, into their home.

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        • How interesting! I’m gonna go with his parents 🙂 If all their kids ended up with close friend groups, that says something about the household they created.

          On Wed, Dec 16, 2020 at 5:02 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. My sister’s and my oldest friend is not even a “sandbox friend”, as they are called in Germany: We knew each other before we could even sit. His parents are my parents’ best friends, his mom running around with my dad’s gang during their youth in a really small village and then sharing a flat with my mom at age seventeen when they were training to be daycare workers. So it does happen, but I guess it helps when everyone stays within about an hour’s driving distance from each other. Their son didn’t, so we’ve basically visited him once when we were in Vienna almost ten years ago, but we’re still invited to his wedding next year.

    Other than that, I didn’t really have that many close friends growing up. Those that I’m still in contact with are from graduate school days, when friendships started because of common interests more than just because you sat next to each other.

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    • Are you still in NYC? When this pandemic ends, would you like to join our FDFS (first day first show) contingent? I have to admit we only do that for SRK films, but we do go see others. mpollak711

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    • I love “sandbox friend”!!!! Although I think my equivalent would be “Sunday School friend”. There was a little gang of kids that started with me in the baby room and church and stayed with me all the way through Sunday school. And I love that your parents have such a close close couple friendship with another family. It sounds like your relationship with your baby friend is similar to my relationship with the children of my mother’s best friend. We grew up together, I care about them deeply, haven’t seen them in years. But they are the people I can (and have) called on any time I need anything, the relationship is that tight. There’s also the lovely feeling of having a second mother, their Mom taught me how to drive and has been there for me my whole life, and my Mom has been that for them.

      I made 0 friends in grad school. Which I felt kind of bad about, and then decided it doesn’t matter. I mean, I had people to talk to during class breaks and stuff, and even study with, but I never saw them outside of school. It’s that “things in common” thing, I was in grad school purely for Indian film, I was interested in cultural differences and racism and communalism and propoganda and violence and that kind of stuff, and everyone else was there to study American films and talk about gender issues. Just a whole different vibe.

      On Wed, Dec 16, 2020 at 1:19 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. Finding this reassuring. As an only child until age 29, I put a lot of energy and hope into serial best friends, one in elementary/middle school, one in high school, and my college roommate. I had other friends but these were the people I envisioned as kind of sister substitutes, we would be in each other’s weddings and be aunties to each other’s kids. But all of them drifted over time. My high school and college best friends, especially, I’ve always felt pain about losing those friendships, and like it was a failing on my part. Friendship is such a delicate thing in the end, if one person isn’t really feeling it the bond can fade so fast even after years of sharing all the important stuff. They both drifted away after I got married and had kids and they didn’t, guessing that might have had something to do with it. They’re both social media refuseniks too, so it’s been hard to keep even that tenuous connection where we know generally what’s going on with the other one. My husband has held on to his school friends even after moving across the ocean, always just figured he was better at it. Defined as people I will see if we’re in the same place, or even travel to see, I’m still in touch with one friend from high school and one or two friends from college, not necessarily the people I would have predicted back then though we were close.

    Our close friends now are people we met early on after moving to NY, closing in on twenty years ago now. There are three other couples, two of whom had kids around the same time we did, but after we were all friends. When we invited those friends to our wedding they were in the newer group but they’ve persisted. Then after kids we added parent friends and became more embedded in our community. This is a city with a lot of people from all over, and we’ve lost friends who have moved away once we weren’t seeing them and their kids all the time.

    I have the same weakness Genevieve described where it’s a lot of effort for me to actively reach out. I appreciate Facebook because it’s allowed me to keep light touch relationships that can more easily be picked back up again. My Facebook crew is a hodgepodge of high school, college, old work friends, and current friends and acquaintances. It’s collected even distant connections like the girl in Scotland I did a home stay with back in high school or my German friend from my college semester in Ireland. I used to feel like weaker ties were not worth the effort but I’ve come to appreciate how much richness they add to my life (especially these days when real life is down to our smallest social circle!).

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    • My super close friendships in childhood and college, I reached a point of just being tired. Feeling like I was doing all the work and taking the lead and I couldn’t any more. So then I stopped. And that’s when I learned what those friendships really were, because if I wasn’t doing the work, they didn’t take up the slack. Which, yes, does feel kind of like a failing. Both that I wasn’t special enough to make these people want to work to keep me in their lives, and that I wasn’t smart enough to see I was wasting time on this relationship. What I’ve come around on now, since I do have these new friendships that have lasted and lasted, is that it wasn’t a waste of time because I got something from those relationships as they were happening. And to value the friendships I have now, where if I drop off and stop reaching out, I get responses saying “I miss you! Let’s get together”. But it’s still a little sad, every once in a while I run across old things from that era and think about how it’s all just sort of erased. You know?

      Personally, I have no friends from college at all. But my sister is still close with college friends, as are my parents, but like you it is people that she wasn’t actually close to during college. College is where they met, but the closeness happened afterwards as it sifted down to the folks who will put in the effort to stay close and really care about you. I was an outside observer for my sister, I visited her in college and met her whole gang, and then again in grad school. And years later when I was planning her bridal shower, it was really surprising who were the people who stuck around after college and grad school and who had disappeared. It’s really a funny kind of time of life and you can’t predict who will stick around after it is over.

      During the pandemic, I’ve been able to observe my parents and which friendships have stuck around for them. Mostly it’s been the co-parent friends, the little group who had kids the same age when we were in diapers. My Mom calls them or they call her maybe once a week right now, these are the connections that matter.

      On Wed, Dec 16, 2020 at 8:31 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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