Thursday 15 December 2011

My friends

Ah Christmas.  It’s a strange old time of year for me.  I go inwards at Christmas, more and more each year that passes.  Anyhow. It’s crept up again, as I was looking elsewhen.  Usually I splurt out a Christmas Gift Guide on the blog, in memory of the days when I used to trawl the shops for newspaper or magazine guides.  And, actually, I started popping images into a file a while back. Yet, funny thing, as I look in the file this morning, I find they are all of the same thing – friendship bracelets.  Those little strings that started out as childhood or teen tokens of bonding.  And I smiled…
What is a friend? How many friends have you got? How many friends do you feel you need?  Does it upset you when a friend leaves you, abandons you, walks away?  I’m not talking about lovers here but friends, just friends. 
In the last week two very different people said pretty much the same thing to me: ‘If you stick with me, you’ll lose your friends.’
And my response?  So be it. Because I know full well that I would never lose the people who really count. As for the rest? Let them walk. Because, see, I truly believe that if you can’t be who you are with people, if they can’t accept your true self, then that friendship is over. I am fiercely loyal to my true friends and I expect no less in return.
I think people come into our lives for reasons; I truly do.  Yeah, even the crappy people (as discussed before).  Friendships however come in many forms and I think that often we mistake the nature of some of them.  Sometimes people come into our lives very briefly, just to give a message. Others stay around for longer; sometimes burning very bright and then vanishing – almost in a puff of smoke.  And others are for life. 
Recently I thought I’d lost a life friend. And that hurt. I tried to rationalize it. Let’s be honest, I haven’t been an easy-to-be-with friend this last year.  Living half in other worlds, reneging on social niceties, absconding from the usual pleasantries.  And yes, I’ve lost a fair few friends but, to be honest, that was just fine.  It meant I didn’t have to keep justifying myself – why should I? Is that harsh? No, I don't think so. So often we keep up with friendships from habit; from expectation; from social mores, even when they have long passed their sell-by date. We grow out of clothes, we change our hair style, we move houses, we shift jobs - so why on earth should we keep friendships static, in aspic? 
But this friend?  Oh yeah, this one hurt. I could remember the first time we met, so so clearly. I needed a flat-mate and someone at work suggested her. For reasons too complicated to go into, I was expecting to open the door to a seriously trendy black DJ or musician. Instead there stood a small, very conservatively dressed, very small, very white lawyer. We shared a house for years. I screwed up her love life with a spell that backfired quite spectacularly – but she never blamed me. We laughed, we cried together; we mopped one another up after the usual life disasters. We used to joke that, when we were old, we’d share a house again and be mad bad witches again.
But then…silence. Long, long silence. And I figured, hey. Why would she still want to be friends with me?  She was hugely successful; her career trajectory had soared in reverse proportion to my crash.  But so be it.  Anyway, what could I do?  You can’t force people to be your mates, can you?  Sometimes you have to let go...
And then, just a few days ago, when I was at a very low ebb indeed, an email. Oh. And I replied saying, softly, 'I thought I’d lost you.'  And she replied:
“Baby I will always be here. Friendships like ours run so deep that nothing changes that. Nothing.”
And I smiled. And cried. And the world felt a little warmer.
You don’t need tons of friends. I suppose, if one is being brutal, you don't need any. But life is far nicer if you have a few people in the world who *get* you.  Or – and this is the clever bit – you have people who don’t remotely *get* you; who haven’t a clue what you’re about…who shake their heads and mutter “bloody woman is  barking nuts” but love you nonetheless.  And I have a fair few of both varieties, so I am truly blessed.
Will they stay forever? Who knows? If they do, it is meant. If they don’t, it is meant.  But for now, I’m saying ‘thank you’ to those who have stood by me and loved me even when I’ve been a very hard person to love.  You know who you are…no need to name names.  And so here’s my Christmas Gift Guide…a whole line of friendship bracelets. J


Nick Cook said...

Oh what a lovely blog entry, Jane. Really struck a cord for all sorts of reasons having had an "interesting" year myself.

You're right, people come into our lives for all sorts of reasons, but the keepers, the ones that you pick up the conversation as though it was yesterday, even if it's been years since you spoke, are the most precious.

And of course it's during the low moments in our lives, that we most appreciate them, and almost rediscover why they're so special to us all over again. :o)

How's that quote go... "True friends are the ones who walk in when the rest of the world walks out."


Unknown said...

Wise words for a mad woman. You always make sense to me. Great, warm post.
Big hug,
- Brian

Dump Him Love said...

a very interesting and philosophical post Jane and of course as usual I enjoyed reading it. I am friendly but I am not someone who makes friends easily. Recently I lost a friend through blogging. I wrote about a hiatus we'd had and she didn't like it. We'd been friends for 20 years so it felt sad. But as you say we change and we move on.

Sessha Batto said...

Friends . . . that's a tricksy concept for me, I fear. I've come to the conclusion that, in the real world, at least, I'm singularly unlikeable ;) Thank kami for the virtual world where Sessha can, it seems, make friends (or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof)

Alison Cross said...

Totally agree with EVERYTHING you've written. Lovely blog!

I do think that you ARE mad though :-D

Facebook has been great for catching up with people that I haven't spoken to for years. One in particular. I have missed her a great deal and we are just chatting like we've never stopped....


Ali x

Zoë said...

I can count my friends on one hand. I am one of life's awkward people, so hard to love.

Even so, I feel blessed for the friendships I have.

Wishing you a cool yule xxxx

Anonymous said...

You know the whole saga of my lost friendship so I will pass that by.
It has been an interesting year, in terms of extremes, and I am not entirely certain I'm going to get to the very end of it and see in a new one.
But friends, yes. here's to true friends.

Potty Mummy said...

Great post Jane. You've inspired me to write one about a particular friendship I had & have linked to yours, hope that's OK. x

Greta van der Rol said...

I've never, in all my life, had many friends. I guess that says a lot about me. To be honest, all my friends are online. I've met some, never will meet others but they are the folks who understand me, who share with me and for that I am profoundly grateful.

Kim said...

Phew. It's not just me then ;-)

Unknown said...

Thanks for 'getting' me :)