I consider myself a reasonably friendly person. I’m not shy, I’m happy to talk to strangers. I’m lucky that I’ve gathered a group of friends at every stage in my life.
This incident sums me up very well: Me, aged 8, at my primary school open day. Prospective kids were milling around with their parents. I rushed up to this one girl, and stumbling over my words said, ‘Hello! I’m Betsy. This is Ciara and Alice. Do you want to come and play with us?’
I have friends still from that very primary school; friends from secondary school; friends from university; friends from various jobs; friends who’ve materialised through other friends; family friends; the list goes on; and Facebook (arguably) has only made it easier to keep in touch.
But there are some friends that I’ve lost. In some cases, we went on to different schools; in other cases, we moved to different cities; or simply drifted apart. Some, I must admit, I’m not that bothered about losing, and equally well, I’m sure they don’t lose any sleep over me. However, there are others that I miss dearly.
For me, university was a halcyon time. I ended up part of a group of six girls, who all studied English. One tutor nicknamed us the ‘comitatus’ (a Germanic friendship structure – it was a Medieval literature module…). We all lived within minutes of each other. In twos, threes or as a six, we studied the same modules, went on nights out and to the theatre, celebrated birthdays, commiserated break-ups, and generally lived three years of our lives in each others’ pockets.
And then we graduated.
Obviously life moves on, but sometimes I wish it didn’t have to. Five years on, and I’m still in touch with all of them, but it’s not the same. How can it be? One is my darling Miss S, who resides in Dubai. The rest of them (bar one) all live in London, and have very busy lives. It’s hard to pin each other down. Phone calls are missed, texts left unreplied to, emails unread. And gradually, in my case, the fear begins to set in – am I being dumped?
It’s not just boyfriends who break up with us, friends do it too. I’ve suffered several friendship break-ups, and they’ve all been horrible. Of course, we change, lives change, circumstances change, and the very things that once united us, now draw us apart, but knowing this doesn’t make it any easier.
I’m just about to reach that stage in my life when friends are beginning to get married, and someone once remarked to me that your wedding is indicative of how important specific people are to you at that particular moment in time. Your maid of honour is your best friend, but perhaps, ten years down the line, and you might hardly see each other.
If I were to plan my wedding now (chill out, Mr T), the guest list would look different to how it would have looked even a few years ago, and that makes me sad to a certain extent.
But then, you’ve got to see the bright side, and there are many new, and closer, friendships that I’ve also gained over the last years. People I hung out with at school sporadically have become best friends, and that really is a gift.
I’m always very aware of my friend, Mags, who passed away at a time when our friendship had drifted. And when I think about the other friends who have slipped away, and the thought of anything (heaven forbid!) happening to either party, and I’m suddenly filled with the urge to get in touch.
So, if you’ve made it to the bottom of this, and you can think of a lovely friend that you haven’t dumped, and would actually rather like to hear from, reach out to them. You will never ever regret it, but you may regret not doing so.
Now, excuse me while I run up a revoltingly big phone bill. And please, if you see a missed call, call me back!