To be sure, the one thing a new friend can never do for you is say I knew you when, and I find it rather sad that there are so few people in my life who can speak those words. None of my closest friends in Manhattan knew me when: we didn’t meet until after I’d figured out who I was and what I wanted to become. On the other hand, the friends of our youth present their own problems. They are part of the train of memories that we all pull behind us, the one that grows longer with each passing day, and for that reason harder to pull. “The friend of your youth,” Robert Penn Warren wrote in All the King’s Men, “is the only friend you will ever have, for he does not really see you. He sees in his mind a face which does not exist anymore, speaks a name—Spike, Bud, Skip, Red, Rusty, Jack, Dave—which belongs to that now non-existent face but by some inane and doddering confusion is for the moment attached to a not too happily met and boring stranger.” Old friends knew you when, but new ones know you now, and now is when it is and where you are….
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