There are many types of friends in the present day and throughout the history of the world. There are friends of a moment. Friends who exist at a certain time and place, but after that scenario has passed, they sort of fade away; a few years after you lose contact with them…you can’t seem to recall what they looked like, the details are fuzzy, your feelings about them – uncertain. These are the sort of friends you might make in your branch of the army, not the ones who saved your life, nor the ones who you risked your life with…nor for, but the ones that you had minimal contact with…enough to call them “friend” and not “acquaintance” but not sufficient enough to make them “brother” or “sister.” The other major category of friends is that of lifelong friendships. Friends, who you spend close to your every waking moment either with or in conversation with, be it through the internet or over the telephone. The type of friend who, when you moved away, you may have lost contact with them…and then regretted that decision every minute of every day.
As the start of build season approaches and looms overhead, I have, for some reason or another, been reevaluating my friendships; my relationships. The ones that I formed during my four years in high school can be separated mostly into three groups: friends from Staten Island Technical High School, friends from the Israeli Scouts youth movement, and last, but certainly not least, friends formed through my involvement in the FIRST robotics program, both the FIRST LEGO League, and the FIRST Robotics Competition.
Regrettably, or not so much depending on how you approach it, my friendships from Staten Island Tech are not too numerous. In fact, there are not too many people from that high school that I miss: my closest friend from Tech is my roommate in college; it’s not too hard to keep in touch with him. While some might look at the minute amounts of friendships gleaned throughout the years in that high school and think it unfortunate, in my opinion it is actually a blessing in disguise.
I have been involved with the Israeli Scouts since tenth grade, traveling forty minutes each way on every Sunday to be with my friends. It seems like my friends from those three years of involvement can be divided into two groups, those still in high school, and those in the Israeli Defense Forces. Either way, it has been a challenge to keep in touch, and regrettably I have lost contact with a majority of them. Despite this decrease in contact, when I visited the group a few weeks ago, it felt like I had never left, with me blending into the group and seamlessly working, playing, and fooling around just like we did so many times before.
The closest and strongest friendships that I have formed, however, have come from the FIRST robotics program. Friends that I can call “brother,” that I can call “sister,” that I can just call “family.” As build season looms ahead I am reevaluating my friendships and I am realizing that my real friends, those that are not purely acquaintances, in this institution called “The Cooper Union” number few and far between. It is hard to find common ground, when all of them regard robotics as something “weird” despite this being an engineering school; it is hard when they all regard me as some sort of “alien” because I am actually interested in engineering, and not just in the full scholarship awarded to each and every student; it is hard when I realize that a lot of my “friends” just want help with their programming assignments so that they can go party later that night. But I’ve come to realize that this whole lack of real friendships at my specific university does not really matter. It does not have any significance because throughout my four years at high school, regardless of the lack of friends from that specific school, I have formed many close relationships that have hardened like cement and are now close to inseparable, untouchable by outside influences. These are lifelong friendships that I will hold dear and cherish forever.
I have only been a part of this community, for four years, and a part of this family of close-knit friends for closer to three. And yet…when I find myself thinking of the future, and I reach an alternate reality where I no longer have a part in FIRST; where I no longer can keep in contact with my FIRST friends, my extended family: I find myself lamenting the loss even before it happens; I find myself contemplating how disoriented I would be without this community, how helpless I would be without this family, and how depressing life would be without this program and everything gleaned from it.
Friends of the moment and friends of a lifetime: each have their own specific place where they can contribute to your life and quietly mold you. Both are good and fine, but friends of a lifetime are something special, and those, you should fight for no matter the cost or sacrifice. For close friends are like balloons, once you let go, they never come back. I plan on tying these friends, these brothers and sisters, to my heart so that they cannot get away; so that if I, at one point decide to try and let them go, they’ll stop me and remind me of what I’d be sacrificing; of what I’d lose; and of how empty my life would be.