Saturday, 15 August 2015

Of Friendship and Feet

 I’m not sure how to say this without it sounding like a pathetic cry for help… or an attention seeking teenager’s lament. It is neither. It is what it is. And it’s something that’s been bothering me for a while now, gathering momentum, growing obese and knocking other stuff around as it travels. So I’m setting it free. For it’s own health.

And mine.

I’ve never had many friends. I was never one of the popular kids, never a cool girl, not someone to be seen hanging out with. I’ve never been part of a sporting team, or one of the arty crowd, nor even queen among dorks. I don’t think I’ve ever had a tribe.

Like most people, work-me and social-me have often blended. Work colleagues have become the people I socialise with, and some of them have come to be what I might call friends. That’s usual, right? Because most often it’s those with whom we spend the most time that become the source of our circle of friends…. Isn’t it?
Is it?
Is it a truism that our friends are drawn from the group with whom we spend the most time? And that who we have as friends, therefore, changes as our life-situation changes? 
Is friendship transient?
Or do friends meet in unexpected ways? Untold spontaneous ways? 
And stick.

Like when you comment on a blog that speaks to you from another part of the globe, and you end up connected to someone you’ve never met. The way pen pals used to be connected. The way women once wrote to random soldiers just so they knew someone at home was thinking about them. 
Words connecting lives through space and time.

Over the past few years, I’ve been consciously reaching out to people who I
once called friends. People with whom I spent a great deal of time. People with whom I shared many experiences, thoughts and conversations — one I spoke to almost every day while our children were young, another loomed large during our adoption journey, a third was once a regular companion on outings. And there are others. People who have known me for decades. People I thought would always be my friends.  

Almost all of them have dropped away.

They were pleased to hear from me… or seemed to be… when l reached out to try to reconnect. I believed they were happy for me to travel to their homes when I asked if I might do so. And travel I did. But that was where the contact ended. My visits were followed by silence. 
The same nothing.
And I find myself damp with the fug of rejection, wondering just what friendship looks like.
Then dampness chills to brain-freezing realisation that the common denominator is me.

But I asked someone I don’t know if she’d knit me a pair of socks as a physical reminder of the unfathomable way in which words can connect lives. And she said, ‘How big are your feet and what colour do you like?’

And better still, she knitted herself a pair too.
In the same colour.
The colour of friendship.