Friends

On Friday afternoon, with me half-way through a staff training session, and nursing a mild hangover, something utterly bizarre (and entirely unrelated to either of those previous facts) occured. I logged on to my Google homepage, only to see an email from Facebook: ‘Jodie Pitman has added you as a friend’. The hangover was blown straight out of my ears, my eyes expanded to the size of the sun, my jaw bounced off of my knees; I simply could not believe it. Jodie Pitman. Jodie bloody Pitman. Well well well.

Earlier that day I’d had another, very similar message. This time, it was Alastair Cosbie. Again, shock, amazement, and a big grin. I’ve know Cosbie since I was 8, pretty much. Except when I disappeared off to uni in, ooh, 1998, he pretty much disappeared off the planet. I didn’t know where he was, what he was doing. And now I do. He’s back.

And so is Jodie. I haven’t heard of or seen her in 12 years. I was 17. She was 14. And I was completely in love with her. We were in a play together. Under Milk Wood, it was. She played my wife. We got to kiss. It was heaven. She’s all boyfriended up now of course, and with kids. But that’s not the point.

This internet place is bloody weird. People you think are dead, people you wish were dead, people you entirely forgot about, people you could never, ever forget about, just appear, out of the blue, while you sit at a computer terminal half a world away.

I remember when Warwick moved to Cumbria for a couple of years, climbing trees and the such. He just vanished off, and was unheard of until he turned up on my doorstep two and some years later. We smoked fags and drank beer, and we chatted. And it was like nothing had changed. Like no time had passed. The same happened after Alex got back from Australia at the same time as I returned from India. The same thing happens every year with Steve. And Laura I didn’t speak to for years after we split, and yet now I’d like to think that we’re good friends. The Cosbie and Pitman things aren’t quite like this, particularly in the case of the latter, but it’s pretty similar.

An ex recently sent me a lovely email (as was her wont) telling me why I had no friends. She said something along the lines of ‘when was the last time you emailed Steve or Alex or me (the last one clearly being some kind of joke, I assume)? She emails her friends 7 or 8 times a day, as far as I can gather. I, on the other hand…well it depends. Once a month, maybe. Maybe less. Does this make me a bad friend? Do you have to ask about every aspect of a persons life in oreder to demonstrate that you care about them? Do you have to divulge every detail of yours? Do you have to seek constant reassurance that they’re listening, that they remember you, that they don’t forget about you?

Personally, I don’t. I know my friends pretty well. They know me pretty well. I know that if I don’t write to them every week, they aren’t going to forget about me or think less of me, because they aren’t the kind of friends that would do that. I wouldn’t want friends like that. MySpace friends, mostly, randomly add you and then say precious little. I remove them from the list. I’m not interested in quantity, just quality. And the few close friends I do have, they are quality. Amanda, from Canada, who I’ve never met. We’ve been chatting online for years now, and only ever every month or so. And yet we still do. Because we’re friends, and that’s just the way it is. When she asked once why she thought that was, I think I said something like ‘because you’ve never wanted me to be anything other than exactly who I am, and I’ve never wanted more from you’.

I’ve met a lot of people here in Quito now. Do I keep in touch with them all? No. But the ones I do keep in touch with are the same type as my other friends. Kelly and Michael, who I’m going to visit in the summer in the States. I rarely speak to them. Carolina. I see her once a month, maybe, even though she lives just up the road. And yet I know she’ll not forget about me, or vanish through boredom. Because I’ve never wanted her to be anything other than she is, and she’s never demanded more from me.

I’m not sure what my point is really. I just got spurred on by a couple of emails from freinds and about friends and it got me thinking. That’s all. I think it might have something to do with appreciating people for their inherant value rather than having expectations and requirements of people. And that it’s great when people you know who have those qualities, and who value, and who you miss, reappear, just like, deep down, you probably knew they always would. Because that’s the kinda friends they are.

See you soon xxxx

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