A stark contrast was the time I spent last month with two friends from my high school years who both now live in Florida. I saw each of them separately, meeting one for lunch and the other one for dinner. Being with them was a joyful experience. All of me was in attendance, and I wasn't worried I would offend. Partly because of our shared history, and also because it's impossible to offend a native New Yorker no matter what you do or say, I was completely relaxed in a way that I never am with newer friends. Maybe in time I could be, but we'd all be over 100 by then and how much fun could we have?
Despite political differences or personal tastes, old friends see through all the accumulated protective layers to the essence of who you really are. There is simply nothing like them.