The curious life of friendship...

posted on: Thursday, 21 March 2013

You recall how at high school there were always those girls who had lots of friends? I remember them walking the halls, surrounded by their entourage. I was not one of those. I had many friends at school and they split into two camps. One set were made up of girls, who on my first day I leaned towards, mainly to become one of said entourage. I was great friends with three really popular girls and I was always the quieter, bookish, tall one. Unconventional. Story of my life. The second camp was made up of the clever girls with whom I had my lessons. My first group of friends were not in my sets for lessons. These 'clever' girls were of a different sort; serious, bespectacled, they were the doers and always did well in exams, worked hard, were polite to teachers etc. They probably went on to become politicians. Or lawyers. Right now they are probably ruling the world.

Move on to University; the first-day introduction to kindred spirits. I think back now to that day we all met and can remember the near-gravitational pull of wanting to be friends with those girls. They became my bedrock of friends to this day.

Fast forward to motherhood; picture coffee mornings and baby singing. Amongst these tea and biscuit toddler groups I  met women who steered me through those troubled times of weaning and sleep routines. Acutely close through the commonality of babies.

Then my first fledgling years at school pick-up. In retrospect, I had the same awkward gangliness I had in school, but disguised it in power-suits and high heels and I acted as if I was altogether too busy to chat. It took me a long time to work out that this was a facade that saved me from having to engage with these women, whom I found wildly intimidating. Not because they were unpleasant but because  I had no start-point, no back story. Meeting new people is that leap of faith where you have to get past the 'do you like me?' stage. Of course over time, the boundaries came down and now I count those women as some of my best friends; when the chips are down, they are there for me.

There are kindred spirit, go-to-the-end-of-the-earth friends. It just so happens that these friends don't live anywhere near me and that takes its toll. We send each other random, middle-of-my-day-but-had-to-share texts and emails where we say: 'I MISS YOU!' 'WHEN WILL I SEE YOU?' They get increasingly desperate as we struggle to make arrangements six months, even a year ahead, knowing deep down that our commitments at home make it near-on impossible to guarantee that we will come through and actually see each other. But when we do, it is like magic. These friends are the ones who knew me when. Inside out. All of my foibles and oddities they know and love, and despite those things, they are still my friend.

I notice that I think about my friends a lot more than I used to and I have got used to carrying around that slight ache of missing them. I am not sure what can be done about this - I figure it is a common feature of busy women who have marriages, houses, children, jobs, parents, commitments. I never knew that all of the commitments that I spent my thirties accumulating would actually amount to so much of my time and energy. So my new commitment is this: I need to see my friends more. I know it's late for a new year's resolution, but there it is. :-)


  1. Having just lost one of my best friends less than a week ago, I so agree with you - you need to see your friends more. My friends have always been my rocks, but there have been times I hadn't seen them in quite sometime. These past few years, I have made it my mission to plan monthly dinners, weekly coffees, weekend trips to meet somewhere in between our homes as a few of my friends live faraway from me, Skype dates, phone calls and texting. Don't put it on the back burner, as you just never know what's around the corner. Girlfriends are the best and do necessary to our well being. xxoo

  2. I had to come back to comment on this one. I read so much of myself in this. It can be so hard to maintain friendships over distances and time and changing phases of life, but having people in your life who "knew you when" is so wonderful. I am thankful to have sisters who are also friends because they have known me through every single phase! I'm just beginning the "school mom" friend phase, and I'm watching friendships blossom right now. It's wonderful, and I'm happy and grateful to extend my network of friends, especially those that are close to home. But each friend is precious, and I do miss my dear friends who live too far away. I cherish each visit and each phone call or text, and you are right to make them a priority.

  3. Yes I completely understand all that you have said. I was that same girl at school, in the popular group but often sitting on the sideline because I couldn't stand all of the politics.
    Now days I still sit on the sideline and I kind of like it. It is quite peaceful. My 2 best friends live far away and we text and call too. I think this is the cycle of friendships really and life for that matter. nothing ever stays the same for very long. I love your post xo

  4. I think the great thing about friends like these is you meet up after many years as it is like time as stood still you are chatting like you are back in school/university.

  5. First I want to tell you how much I loved your last post Lou ~ my mother always said that if I could sing all my school work I would get straight A's!! I have using bloglovin to keep up with my blog reading but that means no commenting ~ so here I am. I too have different groups of girlfriends and I love getting together with them all. Love that quote. xo

  6. Oh so true... the whole post. I saw myself in this post and as I am living far away from both family and friends it is so lonely some days. I count myself lucky to be able to see my friends whenever I can and try to do so as much as I can. You need to make you and your friendships a priority. You deserve it to short.

    Happy belated birthday.