I’m lucky enough to have a collection of fabulous friends from many different epochs of my life. Kindergarten, school, college, different work places, projects, countries – usually, a lasting connection is forged with one or two people, and although we may not be in touch much of the time, somehow, we continue to be part of each other’s lives with varying degrees of intensity and frequency.
I enjoy these bonds immensely. A distinct constellation of reference points exists with each individual, which cannot be replicated with someone else. They’ve borne witness to a specific episode in your life that turned you into the person you are today. Once that person disappears from your life, you’ve also lost that touching stone to your past. Of course, a lasting friendship needs a bit more cement than just a shared stretch of the past, which is why we do not keep up with probably 99% of the people who were once a bit more than mere acquaintances.
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this… Well, my ‘oldest’ friend Martina is coming to Toledo tomorrow to spend a long weekend with me, and I’m excited about it. Normally, I only see her once a year when I return to Germany for a family visit, and we may only speak to each other on the phone four or five times a year. You see, she has three children, a business (which involves baking and selling cakes!!!), a cattle farm and some high-powered part-time job in the German equivalent of the NHS, so it’s hard for her to get away.
Martina and I made friends in kindergarten at the tender age of four. We grew up in the same village, and we went to school together. Our younger brothers, incidentally, are also good friends, and I even remember her mother being pregnant with her brother. Although our lives over the last two decades could not have been any more different, our friendship has endured for 37 years.
We can go trawling, without a trace of reticence, through our most sordid of family scandals, and there’s no need for lengthy explanations. She’s seen my father in Tyrannosaurus Rex mode, and, boy, I know just how doolally her mother is. We each understand why the other one is so uniquely fucked up, and also why we are strong and driven in very different ways. And, most importantly, we can laugh about it all 🙂
I should really not be sitting here and wasting time on writing this when I’ve got a flat to clean. A flat that’s not up to German standards of cleanliness, not by a veeeeeery long shot, and I’ve not got a cat in hell’s chance of covering up my domestic inadequacies in front of her. I’ve never cleaned the outside of a window in my life. And the bitch is bound to spill the beans to my mother…!