This evening we visited a family that has lived here almost as long as we have. It was all quaintly old-fashioned. My dad called them in advance, checked if they are free, mentioned that I am in town, we just want to say hello. My parents have a firm sense of propriety about these things and as a kid, I hated the very idea of visiting someone and making small talk (or watching someone else make it). I ¬†would wriggle out of as many of these as I could, but there were always some visits more important, that required the presence of the entire family. So we’d march out, one sulking kid in tow. Sometimes walking to see neighbors; and sometimes in a car to visit relatives. I was evenly prejudiced against all this.

A couple days ago, my mother mentioned that she would like to see the C’s. I found myself agreeing.This evening at their home, I found that suddenly I was¬†making small talk having a conversation on one of these visits, and I enjoyed myself immensely. Now I see that there is a pleasure to be had in conversing with someone you’ve known since you were born, whom your parents have known since before you were born. It is a comfortable and assured friendship that carries no fuss to it. Such friends do not hold grudges that it’s been more than a few weeks since we’ve talked, or keep any sort of count about such things. They welcomed us into their home with warmth and I finally understood why my parents enjoy this.

We are lucky to have many such neighbors like this, and many more relatives. Last night I was the recipient of another such neighbor’s generosity. I see them take happiness in simply talking to others, and I find myself sharing the same. I have many friends myself, but you begin to discover that you won’t carry them all into your latter twenties, or thirties, and so on. This is a shrinking set of people, and the ones that survive all these decades are the ones that need little explanation, who become friends like the kind my parents have.

I’ve read somewhere that one of the hallmarks of being in your thirties is that you will begin to understand, and empathize with, your parents more. With this evening, I’ve got a head start on this!