Make New Friends But Keep The Old...

 Mr. Kramer conducting a Mansfield youth orchestra in the late 1960s.

Mr. Kramer conducting a Mansfield youth orchestra in the late 1960s.

If those words bring a tune to mind and you can finish the stanza, you were a Girl Scout or attended a summer camp in the Midwest. It’s a sweet song that compares friendships to precious metals – “One’s like silver and the other is gold.”

That tune has been popping into my mind lately as we prepare for a trip to Manhattan for a bit of business combined with a tap into one of our favorite cities and its particular mania at the holidays. And while we’re there, I’ll have time to visit with one of my oldest friends, a golden friend, a girl I’ve known since we were both three years old.

I suppose “girl” is the wrong descriptor since we’re now in our 50s, but Julia will always be a girl to me. We grew up together and I’m so lucky we did, as she clearly paid more attention to everything going on around us. I jokingly tell her she is my external hard-drive memory for the people and events of my first 20 years of life. But it’s no joke. She actually is.

We both come from musical families that featured that unique blend of supportive access to instruments and instruction accompanied by expectations for pride-inspiring performances.  Her parents and my parents were always in the audiences that gathered as we moved from Junior High All-City orchestras to All-State orchestras and the innumerable recitals and performances in between.  And all the while, she was focusing and remembering all that went on.

When a friend request popped up on my Facebook page, Julia was the one who reminded me that it came from the girl who sat next to me in the violin section on stage forty years ago. And a recent YouTube posting of a recording from our high school jazz band was a total surprise to me, but elicited an actual memory from Julie.

“Don’t you remember when Mr. C set up those recordings of our bands and orchestras?” she prompted, reminding me of our truly remarkable high school music director. “It was a really big deal with all of those microphones and equipment.”

I’ve tried but there’s not even a faint memory of the hullabaloo she describes, but I’m so grateful she’s there to tell the tale. I like to blame it on the finite nature of memory, or on the fact that I’ve lived in six cities since high school, gathering new phone numbers, faces, and memories on the way. Or it could be that I’ve always been easily distracted by the shiny new silver object, relying on the golden friendships to keep me grounded.

In this season of gratitude and music, I am looking forward to seeing Julia and to pulling out the songs and memories of my golden friend as a reminder of the roots that have supported my life. And when we’re back in our adventure home in Pasadena, I’ll spend time with my silver friends who make life interesting and meaningful in the here and now.