My oldest friend messaged me last night for the first time in a while. I can’t tell you why because, even with my level of candour, it’s way too inappropriate. But that’s pretty much how our friendship goes. We don’t chat for a few weeks then it’s either an essay length catch up or a few crazy dark texts that literally make no sense to anyone else. We’ve been friends for almost 20 years and I’m pretty sure you can tell as soon as we’re together.
We met when I moved to her area when I was 9. From my memory, she basically forced friendship on my because I had dogs, but we definitely clicked straight away and she was definitely a nightmare from day one. People constantly asked me why she hated them, and my only defence was “no no, that’s just her face all the time”. She routinely bought a block of marzipan from our local shop (with a different friends money), had one bite, then threw the rest away. There was the time I kicked a shampoo bottle on the pavement, fell flat on my back, and got whiplash which lead to strangers standing over me asking if I was okay while my friend basically wet herself laughing. Then there was the time that we were playing hide and seek with a bunch of kids that we lived near. We were squashed into a random hedge together when I said something, probably mildly humorous at best, which of course she reacted to like it was the first and funniest joke she’d ever heard (because that’s how she reacts, to this day, to almost anything remotely funny). Laughter, once again, lead to the standard response of her bladder almost loosing control, so we rolled out the hedge as fast as possible and lost the game. I’m pretty sure I still have a scar on my arm from the scratches of that one. I’m pretty sure I have a few scars I can attribute to that girl.
I’ve also got a lot of figurative scars that would still be full on, gory, horror movie style wounds if it wasn’t for her. She was the first friend I had that really knew all my issues, and I knew hers. I mean, it’s pretty unbelievable that we made it through the stuff we went through collectively and ended up as remotely sane human beings (up for debate, sure, but 27 and not one forced institutionalisation between us so I’m taking that as a win!). She was the first friend I was truly vulnerable with, and she taught me how to be brave anyway, despite our differences on the surface. Think her in a matching grey tracksuit, hair scraped back and me dressed in black and studded belts with far too much eyeliner. I used to ask her all the time why we were even friends, but it was never a real question. We always managed to cut through the superficial bullshit, even in our angstiest teenage days. Our relationship wasn’t always simple, but we always had each other backs, and she was the one that set a standard for friendship for me going forward.
I’m not a sentimental person particularly. I don’t hold onto history like it’s the only thing that matters. I would rather focus on the values that are more present and relevant. There’s nothing wrong with admitting when you grow apart, and I have had many very close friends that I have drifted from. Over the years me and my friend have been through a million life changes, moved across the country and could have easily gone our separate ways, but that hasn’t happened. Strangely, in a lot of ways, we have come to the same decisions and understanding about life, even though we may have taken very different paths. That’s not history at work, it’s something deeper. We don’t talk every day, and sometimes when we do talk, it’s just a few inside jokes that promise us a VIP spot in hell, but I love her. Whatever happens in my life, whatever changes good or bad, wherever I end up, I always know that she’ll be there with me. Probably laughing too loud and nearly wetting herself.