Spirit Friends

A CoolAger takes stock of evolving and unexpected relationships

By Tina V. Anthony

A funny thing happened in the midst of my busy life. Changes―lots of changes. I’m not just talking about the physical changes that, when one enters this stage of life, become common fodder for self-deprecating humor. No, I’m talking about the changes happening in the last place I’d expect―the friendship arena. Not only do I find the status of my friendships changing, but the quality, quantity and even the ages of my friends are beginning to look much different than they’ve ever looked in previous years.

As a self-described introvert, I was generally happy (and perfectly content) to lose myself in a good book, bubble bath or other solitary activity. Plus, I’ve always believed that one or two good friends are all you need. It’s not that I don’t have many people I’m friendly with, I just don’t believe in having friends only for the sake of having friends. Emotionally, it’s too exhausting for me. So in this age of girl squads, bro-mances, tribes and followers, my daughters (ages 20, 22 and 23) have decided to befriend me and my girlfriends. I guess after years of eaves dropping on our girls’ night conversations over glasses of wine and dinner, they discovered that Mom and her friends are a whole lot of fun. On Friday nights they often join in on our wine-and-dinner observations and musings about life, men, travel, relationships and dreams. Not only that, they’ll even blow off friends of their own ages to hang out with us.

What I find interesting about this phenomenon is that it’s not limited to my 20-something daughters but others my age and everyone in between. Recently, a group of commuters (three men and two women of various ages from 25-60) that I’ve been seeing daily for two years on my train ride from NYC to my home Upstate invited me to sit with them. And from that time on, they save me a seat on the 7:08 train every night. We talk about politics, restaurants and changing neighborhood dynamics. We laugh a lot too.

As time goes by, it seems as though relationships are evolving into unexpected friendships in all areas of my life. Female cousins from childhood are re-emerging as confidantes and traveling buddies, while other moms in the neighborhood have become skiing, hiking and beach day companions. My relationships with my closest friends (including my own mother) have become richer, deeper and more fun than ever. We’re now more like surrogate sisters who show up for one another without ever giving it a second thought. I’ve accompanied a friend when she had to put her pet to rest, her hand in mine instead of her husband’s. Friends have stepped in to help each other at weddings, funerals, movie nights and our kids’ college dorms. Support is all around me, with friends and family encouraging me to take a job in a new state, including lending help to my daughter and rescue dog.

This all occurring at this particular moment. Somehow we just seem to know what each other needs and when it’s needed most. Call it intuition. Call it spirit connection. It just works. And though I’m still an introvert, I’m definitely more open and self-assured than I was in my younger years. Perhaps that’s what’s drawing my friend circle closer. A wise friend once said to me, “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” I couldn’t agree more.