When I was a teenager I found a friend at a train station and I brought her home with me like a little lost puppy. She had run away from home and she had no where to go. I knew her from some of my classes but we weren’t really close friends. Not yet anyway. She was hurting and so we chatted over stolen cigarettes and cans of coke. She told me she didn’t have anywhere to go, so I said, ‘just come home with me, then.’ And so she did. My mother took her in and that began one of the most important relationships of my life to date. This beautiful young woman moved into my room along with fifty three Michael Jackson posters and a thousand shoe boxes filled with little sparkly fairies and feathers and high heeled shoes. She brought with her drama and laughter and joy. She cleaned like a madwoman and loved me and my brothers and my mother and breathed life into all of us. For the next four or five years she lived with us, on and off. We moved house several times, and eventually in a new house she had her own room (inside) and I lived outside in the shed (by choice, of course).
We shared some of the most formative years of our lives, and now we are grown we don’t see each other enough. We live two hours a part these days and most of the time we may as well be in different time zones… or on different planets. Life is busy and hard and we live very different worlds. In so many ways we couldn’t be more opposite, but that has never mattered. When these three blond haired lovelies arrived on my doorstep on Tuesday afternoon, my home was instantly filled with family and love and laughter and warmth. And as always, it was like no time had passed at all.
There is something very precious about old friends. We’ve known each other for what seems like a thousand years. We know each others quirks. We have seen each other in our very worst times and we have celebrated in the very best times. We have written countless letters, covered in glittered pens and scribed with love and secrets of boys and stories that would otherwise be long forgotten now. We have spent many nights dancing to the thumping sounds of drum and bass, we have spent long weekends and short weekends and weeks and months and years in each others company. We have spent years and lifetimes apart. We have been together and far, far away from each other and none of it has made a damn bit of difference. You know you have a friend for life when you can go for a year without speaking for no other reason than your lives are heading in opposite directions and then when one of you picks up the phone it’s like no time has passed at all.
I’m very lucky to have a few wonderful friends with an incredible amount of history in my life. I don’t get to see any of them on a regular basis. All of them are distant and living fabulous, exciting and wonderful lives of their own. Some close by and others in the far off corners of the globe. But always when we do talk, we are teenagers again, curled up in each others words and lost in stories of our past. Friendships made in some of the most tumultuous times of our lives. Friendships that survived the rocky and somewhat toxic teenage years. Friendships that flourished with love and support and joy and sadness and great times and terrible times and the best times of our lives.
There is something unbelievably joyful watching our own children form friendships of their very own. Finding that they too have something in common, watching as they develop their very own relationship together, totally separate from us. Listening to the waterfall of laughter from the back steps as toddlers and babies come together in play without any guidance from us at all.
It’s mind blowingly amazing and it’s something we (ALL) need to have in our lives more often.
Because life is made up of the people that you choose to surround yourself with, and why not choose laughter?