Teenage girls fight with their friends. I think. Maybe it was just me and my friends. Terrible fights. Mostly scribbled on notes which were passed around in class. I can’t remember what one fight was about. But it was never-ending. My diaries from those days are a long list of who was not speaking to me and who I was not speaking to. When we weren’t fighting with each other, we were sending each other notes with hearts and xxxs. Pretty strange when I think about it now.
Nevertheless, I still have friends from those years. We don’t fight a lot these days, but still send each other hearts and xxxs, now on WhatsApp. Friendship is a funny thing. We have friends from very young ages, so it must be instinctual. But we don’t pick our friends based on who is good in a fight or who is good at hunting. Rather, we choose people who we like. And why we like them is a mystery, really. I mean, not that they are not very nice people, but why one and not the other?
I was very lucky to have built-in friends, in the form of cousins. My cousins have proved to be lifelong partners in crime. I have a younger cousin, four years younger than I, who I liked to dress up. I have many photographs of her: dressed as a bride, a witch and a pro-tennis player. That same little cousin flew to Thailand to see me when I was travelling there. We spent a manic time touring the islands and a bit of Cambodia. I say manic because that’s the best way to describe it. We laughed, then cried, sent up fire balloons in the air and crashed scooters (a number of times). It was a thoroughly good visit. She said to me, before she left – “listen to your own wise self.” That has stuck with me over the years and I think of those words often when I am faced with a difficult choice.
There is a saying that goes “When days are dark, friends are few”. This has not been true for me. When my father was dying, my friends were at the hospital with me. They carried me through my divorce. I have a friend who joined Facebook (against her highest principles) in order to find me when I was alone and scared overseas. That same friend held my face in her two hands and told me that everything was going to be ok and that she loved me unconditionally, when I had first left my ex-husband and was living by myself.
Another friend introduced me to Bitmoji, at the age of 45. She advised me on how to set mine up and now we send each other Bitmoji’s of ourselves. We do this a lot. We laugh about our lives too. No matter how bad things have become, she is always there, to empathise and giggle with. One of my best memories is of us driving around Scarborough in the Western Cape together, getting lost and laughing.
A word on male friends. When I saw When Harry Met Sally I agreed with Harry. Men and women couldn’t be friends because the “sex part always gets in the way”. In my life post-divorce, I have changed my mind. I have two male friends who I consider to be two of my best friends. When I am acting crazy over a guy – my one male friend urges me to “be cool”. It never fails to bring me back to my senses. He takes my calls at strange hours while I cry on the other end of the phone, because I have been dumped or ignored or a guy has just been plain mean to me.
I may have have been unlucky in love, but I have been incredibly lucky in friendship. They’re nice – friends. Easy, uncomplicated (nowadays) and full of mutual appreciation. A fan club of my very own.
C.S Lewis said that “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” My friendships have been full of joy, mostly, and a lot of hearts and xxxs.