The best kind of friends:
pick up after a long time of not chatting as if no time has gone by
allow you to invite yourself for tea
tell you when you are being a total idiot
continue to like you anyway
help you to choose an outfit/updo/set of accesories
talk to your kids as if they are people
take you for coffee
recommend books that they think you’d like
pass on the link to the great deal
support your work – especially your side hustle
forward opportunities in your field (if they are in a place to see them)
compliment you on the morning school run even though you look a mess
tell you it will be OK
do hugs (if/when you want them)
let you cry
let you be angry
laugh with you.
Christmas anxiety. A wash of feelings, pulling and pushing in opposite directions. I’m a sociable person, I love my friends. Now it’s December and I’m all ‘hopefully we can catch up before Christmas?’
I invite, or accept invitations, with joy, and then approach the days themselves with dread. Will I spend hours on my return, mulling over a throwaway comment I made, seeking malevolence in words that were not meant to hurt? Deliberately sabotaging my own friendships, and my own fragile resilience?
So last year, I stopped saying ‘let’s meet up before Christmas’ and started saying ‘have a lovely Christmas! See you next year.’
To anyone reading this who feels anxious around Christmas, I just want to say: you don’t have to see anyone, if you don’t feel like it. Look after yourself, OK? And I’ll see you next year.
It’s the little conversations I remember.
With Linda: ‘We’re such creatures of habit. The other day I said “but Anna, we squish our teabags!”’ Conversation, circa 1994.
With Anna: ‘I find it’s best to shake them off first, and then use the hand drier.’ Conversation, circa 2003.
At the time I can remember thinking ‘these are odd conversations. Words I won’t remember.’
But Linda lives at the end of a long road now, and Anna lives over the other side of the world. I see them a lot less than I drink tea or wash my hands somewhere with a drier. It sucks.
So every time I make a cup of tea, and squish my teabag, I’m glad to remember my friend Linda.
And every time I shake my hands before I dry them, I’m glad to remember my friend Anna.
Today I have been thinking about…waving.
I’m just back, and was driving through the village when I got stopped at the only set of traffic lights. As I sat and waited, my friend, her husband, their son and their dog crossed in front at the pedestrian crossing.
By the time I had managed the soft beep, rather than
the hard parp that is easier, all but the husband had disappeared through the doorway to the woods.(Yes, in our village, we have a doorway to the woods.)
But I waved, thinking, ‘I’m in the wrong car, I’ve got sunglasses on, he doesn’t know me well. Hi!’
He looked, and then waved back. And before the lights went green, my friend had reappeared, waved, and her son had popped his head back through the doorway and waved too.