I adore this post by Sophie. Flat out LOVE it. I won’t witter on lest I write my own post to introduce it but suffice to say, Sophie, you’re hilarious and honest and ace. *fist bump of solidarity*
Reading an article about the film The Other Woman last week, I came across a quote from Leslie Mann saying something along the lines of “my husband’s alright, but it’s my girlfriends I couldn’t live without”. Not for the first time, not even the 100th, was I prompted to think about how I fit into this phenomena of bff’s. Something I’ve always known, but that only emerges more obviously as I get older, is that I am somehow missing the best-friend gene. Or at least the instinct that chick-lit and date movies would have you believe all women possess.
My best friend is my husband – tied up with all the cliched sentimentalism that implies, but it feels so intrinsic to being in love, and happens so unconsciously, it barely seems to count. (Though Leslie Mann’s somewhat overlooked husband might not agree there)
What I’m talking about is other people. I have a slightly sprawling, occasionally disconnected group of friends who I think are the bee’s knees, the dog’s whatsits and all that is brilliant about, well, human beings. Despite a dizzying combination of backgrounds, outlooks, personalities, quirks and flaws, they all have the most crucial things in common. They make me laugh, they really do care, they are patient and encouraging in equal measure and being around them is fun and easy – two days or two years since the last time. And I hope they feel I offer just the same back.
The thing is though, wax lyrical all I like, my friendships never look like they do in films. I think there are three main things going on here:
1. I am almost pathologically useless at picking up the phone to call a single one of them. I remember in a particularly dull school holiday saying to my Dad that I wasprobably going to call someone, I was just working out who I’d get ‘good phone reception’ with. This was in about 1996 and on a landline. Worst excuse ever. But 30 years of a very odd habit later, it’s a tricky one to shift. Once I’m chatting away, I’m happy as Larry, but getting there’s the thing. As meeting up face to face gets harder, and What’s App messages don’t quite make the grade, I rely on the continued understanding of my friends that its not me being anti-social or uncaring – just a bit phone-averse (ie funny in the head).
2. A change creeps in once you’re reluctantly settled into your twenties that you are never warned about, but is by turns liberating and heart-breaking. People you used to drink Bacardi Breezers with, the ones who you used to MSN message all evening then natter to all day at school, aren’t all your friends anymore. Even the friends you made at your last job drift away. We seem to shift in the way we see the world over time – the way we treat people; our habits and behaviours; the way we communicate and socialise. So sometimes we start to grate on each other and if the annoyance doesn’t lessen we eventually let go. Sometimes you only realise after-the-fact and feel a sudden loss. Sometimes, worst of all, it’s one-sided. A twisted kind of unrequited love that leaves you in a horrible mind-tangle, whichever side of the fence you happen to be. All of this is damn hard. And strange. The people in your life chop and change and it makes you think about the one’s you really must keep hold of. Hence this blog I suppose.
3. The crux of it: I’m just not that girl. I’ve never confided the gory details of my lifes and loves to someone else because that’s just not what I do. I’ve always enjoyed having a varied group of friends around me because that’s just who I am. I’m happy with meeting up infrequently because that’s no problem when I’m in it for the long haul anyway. I probably don’t let my friends know how much I love them until we’re all drunk, because I’m that cliched. But aren’t I meant to spend every single Friday night with my best girlfriend, drinking Pinot, waxing our legs, laughing about embarrassing sexcapades (awful word, sorry, but that’s my point), crying about nasty bosses, venting about lazy husbands? God, the thought makes me cringe. As for the real-world version of best friends, well I can see the appeal, I honestly can. Having a go-to person who goes-to you in return. Never having to realise there’s a big thing going on that you haven’t asked about in a while, that you haven’tthought about in a while, because there’s a News24 style ticker tape of fun updates making your phone trill every day.
But I’m not built that way. My friends and I will muddle through I know. Hopefully this is old news to them anyway, just a status quo they’re perfectly fine with. But people like me – not a Carrie Bradshaw, not a creepy hermit, just something in the middle – are a little under-represented out there. And it sometimes makes me worry. But maybe there are there more ‘me’s out there? Does this sound at all familiar?