Being between football and hockey seasons, I rarely pay attention to the sports report. I heard something the other night, though, that has stuck with me. Jim Kelly remarked that he often tells kids, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” Hmm. Interesting.

I turned off the TV and started cutting broccoli, making salads and starting the grill for dinner. Friends, I thought, they’re quite a concept. I’ve been blessed with many over the years. Halfway through the broccoli crowns, I thought of my first best friends, the Morrison Avenue kids. They and their families unknowingly taught me about loyalty, cooperation, loving and laughter. Each and every one of them brought something profoundly wonderful to my life, and even as a child I knew it. How I loved them. Still do.

School friends gradually joined the collection. Some lasted till summer, some fizzled out and some held on for years. As my interests widened, so did my circle. I was still drawn to loyal, kind, fun friends – friends who couldn’t sleep the night before Kenmore Day at Crystal Beach, or friends who shared the same hopeful anticipation of seeing everyone at Brighton Field Days. These friends – some old, some new – were the people who helped me become me.

The broccoli was done, on to the grill … and on to thoughts of college. This was my temporary friend stage. It was a completely new chapter in my life, living independently from the constants I had known. It was time to spread my wings, live a little recklessly, and hang with people who walked on the edge. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but honestly, I hated trying to be someone I wasn’t. Interesting to think that I have not maintained a single friendship from those four years, not a single one. They were not my future; they’re nowhere in sight.

It was time for the salads, and salads made me think of my friends since college. They’re a fresh mix of tender, bold, colorful, crisp people with a few nuts sprinkled on the top! My friends from adulthood have been handed the person my earlier friends helped to create. We have had common careers, have survived the child-rearing years and discovered new talents together. We have shared those grown-up realities – births, deaths, marriages, divorces, everyday stuff.

Recently I have regifted (to myself) my most treasured girlfriends from those good old school days. After a long, long time, Robin, Carla, Eunice and I have reconnected. It’s as if we sent each other off to live life and said we’d meet up when all of the big stuff was over. They were the friends who filled the spaces in my time capsule; they shared starring roles in the story of me. I chose well back then, and am so thankful for them now.

Jim Kelly was right. Friends are your future. My collection of friends continues to grow and enrich my life by leaps and bounds, by kindnesses shown and laughter shared. Morrison Avenue was where it all began, with strict parents, loving families and endless opportunities to form friendships that would last a lifetime. “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” Oh, Jimbo, (as my mom would say) no truer words were ever spoken.