I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. This is mainly because I’m leaving the town I grew up in, and am faced daily with the question of ‘aren’t you gonna miss things?’. If I’m being honest, leaving Bournemouth has always been a fairly easy decision for me because other than my family, I haven’t felt like I have that many other ties to this place. I’ve quite honestly felt like I’ve had no friends in Bournemouth for quite some time now.
I was one of the only people in my group of friends who didn’t go to university after sixth form, and I maintain to this day that that was the right decision for me, but it did mean I isolated myself quite early on. Even before we left school, I was getting a bit sick of hearing everyone talk non-stop about what uni they were going to, sorting things out etc, and although they’d probably never admit it, I know that my friends judged the decision that I made in choosing not to go.
So I left them drift away. I kept in touch with a few, and there would be the occasional gathering when people were back at Christmas or in the summer, but again I tended to steer clear for fear of that inferiority feeling I would get around them. Just over two years ago was the last time I went to a party with these friends, and to be honest, it was great, and I was starting to feel a little more confident about being around people again, but then a personal situation messed everything up, and I pulled myself away again because there were two people in the group that I couldn’t face seeing again. I’m still in a group chat with all these people, but I stay silent, and I can’t bring myself to show up to any of these gatherings.
But that’s just back story, and not what this post is really about.
Yesterday I ran into an old friend in the supermarket. He was one of my best friends during my last few years of school, but he went off to uni and although we’d occasionally chat on Facebook, it’s been about 2-3 years since I saw him last, and even those times would have been fairly brief.
So when I saw him in the supermarket my head went two ways. The first was ‘oh my gosh I need to go and talk to him’, and the other was ‘he probably really doesn’t care about seeing me’. Luckily, the first won out. We stood and caught up right in the middle of an aisle in Sainsbury’s, and d’you know what? It was so good to talk to him again.
We talked like old friends, which is exactly what we are, but it wasn’t one of those conversations you have with someone you used to know, where you just blurt out whatever’s happening in your own life and don’t really pay attention to what they’re saying back, it was a proper conversation. Old jokes from years ago were being thrown about, nothing was fake or forced and I walked away at the end of it with the biggest smile on my face.
I guess through all the recent years where I haven’t felt like I had that many friends, I forgot about the friends that are still there even when you can’t see them. The true friends that no matter how many miles are between you or how many months or years go by will still always consider you to be a friend, and treat you like a friend, and sometimes it just takes an unexpected moment to remind you of those things.