Over the years I’ve met countless people. Some have come and gone, others have remained a part of my life from the day we met. There are those I thought would be friends forever but have ended up drifting away over time. There are others I barely noticed, or who barely noticed me, to begin with, but our paths crossed at a later date and we’ve now become firm friends.
As I’ve grown older, friendship has become increasingly important to me. I didn’t enjoy school at all, and on leaving I couldn’t wait to disassociate myself with the place. I did leave with one particular friend, but took her friendship for granted as my social circle grew and being ‘popular’ became the be all and end all for me. How naïve I was, and how telling that my school friend is the only person from those days with whom I still have contact today. Throughout the years I was in full time employment my confidence grew along with my social life, and decisions I’d thought were right for me suddenly came into question quite starkly. I’ve made some horrendous mistakes along the way – who hasn’t? However, not everyone has to take two attempts at matrimony before they finally decide that the whole ‘Mr and Mrs’ thing doesn’t suit them. Like most people, I’ve learnt from my mistakes and they’ve helped shape the person I am today. They’ve also helped me realise how important friends are – true friends, I mean, not the hangers-on I once considered to be my whole world, but whom I haven’t seen for 30 years now. There’s nothing like a time of adversity to find out which friends are true, and throughout the messes I’ve made in the past my friends have come through with flying colours.
Before I start getting over sentimental, I’ll rein myself in and get to the point. Two years ago, as I’ve probably mentioned before, I was made redundant from a job I’d been in for over twenty years. That hit me hard, even though it did give me the opportunity to go on to make a living doing something I love. Leaving my job hurt mostly because I had been lucky enough to work with some of the nicest people I’m ever likely to meet, and working with them had been amazing fun. There were days I’d get home from work having laughed all day, and I felt like the luckiest person ever, getting paid to spend time with my friends. It could never last. We parted company at the end of March 2012, promising faithfully to keep in touch and get together, ooh, at least once every other month.
Last night, two years on, we finally managed that get together to celebrate a 60th birthday. The birthday ‘boy’ is one of those rarities in life: the kind of person EVERYONE likes, and so we gathered en masse for his surprise party. It was like we’d never been parted as we circulated and chatted, reminiscing about the glory days at work when we were all youngsters, and catching up on each other’s news now we’re all – ahem – a little older! It was great. It was a fabulous evening, a timely reminder of the importance of friends from the past, and we won’t be leaving it another two years before we meet up again.
Coincidentally, during the course of the evening I enjoyed another mini reunion as someone I haven’t seen since my schooldays also happened to be in the pub. We spent ages chatting, swapped numbers and, now she’s living in Cambridge again, we’re going to have a proper catch up soon. Funnily enough, she hated school too.