It’s really important to have a circle of great girl friends, right ? For crazy nights out and gossipy nights in. Because when the shit hits the fan, it’s your girl friends you can rely on. Or so we’re told.
Is it a media cultivation? Boots adverts to the soundtrack of ‘Here Come The Girls’; Sex and the City; an infinite number of movies and TV series. It’s a highly stylised version of female friendship – dressed up, linking arms, strutting down the high street. Is it a reflection of your life? (if it is, that’s great ‘Good for her! Not for me’) But it isn’t a reflection of mine. Not since I was 19 anyway. And don’t get me started on groups of women being referred to as girls. (#feministkilljoy)
I don’t have a lot of friends. I don’t have a ‘group’ , not any more, rather a smattering of individual friends. I live in a country I moved to in my twenties. Most of the jobs I’ve had here have been in small companies , with not much opportunity for friend making . With kids I don’t get to go home as much anymore , so maintaining closeness with old school friends is hard, and I definitely don’t have the time or money to travel to various cities in the UK to see university friends , who are across the country.
So I have , literally , a handful of friends. And they are good friends. So don’t feel sorry for me, I’m fine with this. I’m an introvert so love spending time on my own. I don’t excel in groups and prefer a more intimate environment. I find myself great company, to be honest. It’s only when I turn on the TV, or read a magazine that I think I’m missing out.
I’ve recently been dumped by a friend who I haven’t seen for a year now. Emails with suggestions of times to meet have been replied to, but then there’s always a reason why she’s busy. I get it, I’m sure she is. We all are. So whilst I’m sad and , yes, a little hurt I can chalk it down to experience, and if she wants to connect again at some point, I’ll still be here. I’ve had some amazingly close friendships over the years , which , for whatever reason, have not lasted the course. Sometimes people are only in your life for a certain period and it’s hard to maintain multiple friendships when you’ve moved to a different country. And I don’t do Facebook, so maybe that doesn’t help.
Through blogging and Twitter this year, I have found some new friends – I just haven’t met them, yet. I hope I’ll meet some of them , soon. Sometimes I think the friends who live in my phone understand more of what’s going on in my life than some of my real life friends. Not through their fault, it’s easier to show yourself to people when you’re starting fresh with them. People who’ve known you for years have expectations which arent always easy to change. That’s probably why I’ve only told a handful of real life people about the blog .
Still, despite this I do sometimes miss the idea of having that friend you can call in the middle of the night. Or maybe I do have those friends , I just haven’t had to make the call yet.
I was out at the weekend with a friend I met in work. We worked in the same office for a couple of years, and got on well but I would have described her then as a ‘friend from work’, not a friend. Then I went on maternity leave and she moved to a different job in a new department , which meant we didn’t work in the same office anymore. When I came back from leave we started to meet for lunch two or three times a week. Those lunch breaks became my sanity in a difficult couple of years. We were both unhappy at work and bonded over that. On days when I felt low I looked forward to those lunch breaks , and weeks when she went on holiday felt interminably long. We gossiped, we laughed, we complained. We talked about books and TV and ideas . We shared stories about where we had been and how we didn’t know where we wanted to go next . This year, we marched for choice together.
After our night out this weekend, when I got home I realised here is someone who knows me as well as my closest of friends. We are similar , but different. I could tell her anything, and not feel judged. Not just a friend from work, a good friend, a best friend. Obviously I’m too repressed to ever tell her this directly, and even though I hope I have no reason to make it, she is my midnight phone call.