“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
I would add to that ‘and there are still fewer whom I trust completely.’
Scrolling through the WordPress ‘Reader’ yesterday I came across this ‘Daily Prompt’ post:
The prompt was about ‘best friends’ – how you met, how the friendship has survived etc. I’m not particularly happy with the phrase ‘best friend’. It’s a bit ‘primary school’ and playground bitchiness for my liking. There’s a few people I love without liking very much and barely trusting (mostly Mum’s family), a few of whom I think well and trust in certain circumstances, and some of whom I think highly, love and mostly trust. It’s a continuum between strangers, family and friends.
And then there are the friends who become family of my heart, whom I love greatly, trust implicitly with everything about myself, and of whom I think very highly. These are my dearest friends. I have six of them.
F. I met at secondary school. The form tutor decided we were both too quiet and put us on the same table. According to F. it took her several months to get more than one word answers out of me. We’ve been close ever since. She’s the only person who will shout at me when I’m being ridiculous, and doesn’t mind when I shout back. At sixth form I went through my first serious depressive episode; I was obnoxious. I cried all the time, wouldn’t talk to people or shouted at them. It’s amazing I survived. F. was the one everyone went to to find out what was going on with me, she was the one who yelled at me when I was being very awful and she was the one who listened when I finally told her what was up.
Over the years she’s got very good at interpreting ‘written Rosie’; she can work out the tone of a comment I’ve made in a text or on Facebook. Some people have trouble differentiating between me being sarcastic, funny, insulting or suicidal. When other people are trying to keep me sane she keeps quiet and then when we meet says ‘Well, I knew you wouldn’t do anything silly. So I left everyone else to talk you round.’ The implication being, if she thought I was actually going to hurt myself she’d have been on the phone talking me down.
I never want to have to get to that point. I owe F. a hell of a lot.
We’ve been friends for almost twenty years now, we’ve grown up together, and I intend to stay friends with her until the day I die. Which with any luck will be a long time from now. I made her a ‘congratulations, you’ve put up with me for seventeen years’ stuffed felt medal. We’ve got to the point where birthday and Christmas present buying has become a nightmare, not because we don’t know what to get each other but because we’ve bought each other every conceivable gift. We buy vouchers now and make something.
We’ve managed to survive this long as friends because we’re quite different from each other, and yet have enough in common. We try to meet up at least once every couple of months. She’s temporarily between permanent homes which makes it more difficult to see each other. It’s just awkward me going round to her parents’ house, and mine isn’t adapted, so we try to meet up in Grimsby for a meal or coffee and stroll round the shopping centre. I haven’t seen her since before the New Year, but we talk fairly regularly, and actually I’m meeting her at half twelve today. We’re going to be ‘Ladies who Lunch’. We’ve got so much catching up to do.
SN I also met while I was at school. She’s my baby sister’s best friend. She’s also the first person I considered an adopted sister. SN. lived at our house during school holidays, she is responsible for us liking Supernatural – a twelve hour marathon springs to mind. She also claims she used to have to act as a buffer zone between my sisters and I. We weren’t that bad. Okay, we were. Our fights were somewhat legendary. SN was referee; because we were brought up to be polite to guests we also tried to curb the fighting when she was visiting.
SN nearly died while I was away at university. Gods that hurt. She was so sick, we all worried about her so much. But she’s well now, and just finished her own university education. Like the sensible person she is SN stayed in Cambridge after getting her degree instead of coming back to Immingham. I really need to go and see her. She works two jobs though, so finding a time when we are both free is difficult. I last saw her at Download Festival 2013. We had a good weekend, though I think she had more fun than I did. She still hasn’t sent my birthday presents from last year though…(Hint, hint if you’re reading this madam).
We text now and then, and message each other on Facebook. She’s a massive fangirl – we have a lot of fandoms in common and she’s introduced me to a few great bands. I’d never have listened to Shinedown if it wasn’t for SN’s recommendation.
E. of all the people on this list, E is the one I see most often, usually twice a week. I’ve written about her several times. We met because of archery. She doesn’t remember the first time we met, when she was still shooting eight years ago. It was before her son was born. A couple of years later I came back from an archery competition with her Dad and had Sunday dinner with the family. We tentatively renewed our acquaintance. And we haven’t looked back since. I’m not actually sure why she tolerates me. Seriously, why does she put up with me? I have terribly irritating habits – like getting distracted in the middle of a sentence and not finishing it, being a bit insensitive, which to be fair is because I can’t read emotional queues, I can be a bit of a snob by accident. And apparently I inhale food.
We have a lot in common and a few differences. She’s spent the last six years training me not to make Yorkie jokes. I’m neutral on the subject of royalty, she’s a republican. I will tolerate some people that make her fly into a frothing rage. I am quite happy to stare down a group of impudent, ill-mannered teenagers while she’s rather walk past with her head down ignoring them. It’s quite funny, we’re very close and in Immingham that means we must be lesbians. We aren’t but it’s fun winding the yokels up. E quite enjoyed the occasion she met my great aunt in Farmfoods and told her she was the one responsible for corrupting me. She was referring to the music we like and fandomy stuff, but hey if people want to make assumptions that’s their look out.
E. introduced me to so much, things I’d never heard of, we’ve travelled together, been to concerts, the theatre, London. We make plans and then try to carry them out. We’ve been through several bouts of depression together as well. We’re our own little support group. Sometimes we have to be very drunk to talk but eventually we do, and things get sorted out.
I hate seeing her in pain. I hate not being able to do anything to take that pain away. She knows more about me than anyone else in the world. We’re going to be the techno-grannies disturbing the old peoples home by listening to Metallica late at night while surfing the web on the latest technology, probably looking for crochet patterns.
N. I met N. in 2004. She was in some part-time classes I took when I got home from University and couldn’t get a job. We bonded over our mutual love of nature. I’ve seen her girls grow up into beautiful young women. She’s listened to me rambling about my parents divorce, losing my job, she’s got me drunk, and we’ve been rambling together. Almost every Midwinter for the last few years we’ve been out to collect greenery for her house together. I celebrate a few seasonal festivals with her, we lend each other books and DVD’s, and generally just chat about life, the universe and everything. We text now and then.
I’m really bad at keeping in contact with people. It seems to work though, because none of them have told me to get lost yet. I’m always conscious that friends will find me a nuisance if they see me too often, or hear from me all the time.
A. has been a friend for almost two years. I first met her at an Echelon meetup in LIncoln that she had organised. She was this delicate looking scrawny thing in bright orange jeans, all of nineteen. We celebrated her 21st birthday with a trip to London. We’re no longer a part of the Echelon but we are still friends. She’s completely cracked, but in a good way. We don’t see each other much, since she move to Leeds last year, but we try to talk once a week at least. I think the longest we went without texting each other was three weeks, after we got back from London, because she wasn’t feeling up to communicating. I wrote her a letter instead. Along with E. we have nicknames based on the Sherlock Holmes stories. I’m John Watson apparently, because I’m the sensible one. It really confuses my mother when we get post addressed to J Watson.
Last but certainly not least there’s SH my mad, adorable, wonderful friend in Finland. I also met her online because of 30 Seconds to Mars. This is another case of ‘no longer Echelon, still friends’; we have other stuff in common. Generally we like similar music and books, she’s obsessed with Emmerdale while I find soaps repetitive, we’re both medicated for mental health disorders. We both want to visit each others countries but can’t afford to cross our own to catch cheap flights to those countries. I’ve known SH for three or four years. We write to each other every couple of months, talk to each other by What’sApp or FaceBook a few times a week, and generally try to keep each other up to date with what’s going on in our lives. I also want to torture her ex-boyfriend. When he’s being particularly obnoxious I send her pictures of a big stick and suggest she use it on him. That usually gets a laugh. Gods know what her other friends think, I hardly speak to any of them.
These six are my kind of weird, they’re all different in their own way and I trust them implicitly. To lose any of them would kill me.
The ladies on this list are, well, ladies. It’s not that I don’t like or trust men, it’s that I don’t socialise, and ever since I stopped going to archery I haven’t really had opportunities to get to know many men. It’s a shame really, I had some decent male friends at university and among the archers I used to socialise with, but I hardly speak to any of them now. I miss hanging around with blokes. The sensible ones were good human beings who didn’t treat me like an idiot because I’m female.
And now I must go, I have that lunch with my oldest friend to get ready for.