There are very few people I’d actually volunteer to spend time with repeatedly. Even fewer whose company I’d actively seek out. By and large, I find social interactions thoroughly exhausting and the majority of humanity torturous to be around. I am aware that sounds reasonably dramatic; it’s not them, it’s me Well, no, it’s them. People are the worst. What I’m trying to convey is that I’m picky about company. So when I say I like these four people, you should know I don’t bandy that about lightly. You know the sort of people you can’t really imagine – or remember – being without? The people who’ve always just been there, for all of the stuff. Outside of my family (and, frankly, that ranking can depend on the day), these are the four people I would consider, as the kids would say, ride or die. My guys. Four humans, unrelated by blood, with whom I can be my absolute, terrible, authentic self and they can be theirs. They call me on my garbage and they lift me up. They make me laugh, effortlessly, and occasionally cry, but generally in the good way. On February 14th, we celebrate Non-Romantic Life Partners Day. In November we have Friendsgiving. We share fake memories of being at events in our lives that we weren’t actually present for, which can be very confusing – both for the thinker and thinkee. I’m pretty sure we worry some people because, if you’re not one of us, we don’t often make a lot of sense. Our significant others (The Others) have a shared bond of their own over being utterly left in the dirt when we’re together. Seriously. There are two cars. They’re not getting in ours.
We’ve been a 5-some since… 1999… (can that be right? Note to self: we’re going to need a 20th anniversary celebration next year) when we were ‘persuaded’ to take part in a school Pop Concert (shut up, it was the 90s) to raise money for the 6th Form prom. We were Steps (and S Club 7. And Britney’s backing dancers) and we bonded over a mutual love of Eddie Izzard and arsing about. We spent our last year at school driving about the countryside taking trips to McDonalds (five McFlurry’s, please), camping in each other’s gardens, inventing pizzas in a basement cafe and trying not to be left in specific combinations in establishments that provide alcohol. Over the past 19 years, we’ve accumulated 5 weddings, 4 dogs and 3 children and yet when you put us together we are still, immediately, idiots. It’s that kind of friendship.
As life goes on, which life tends to do, it’s harder and harder to align our calendars and actually see each other. The last time we were all together was the penultimate wedding (in 2014), where I had a three week old baby and one of us was getting married, so the dynamic wasn’t quite what it used to be. Since then, we’ve managed various combinations (including the finale wedding, last year, which I didn’t get to as I had another baby. Stupid procreation) but being busy and important people, it’s mostly flying visits where we try to crowbar ourselves into other plans. It also might have something to do with the fact that since 2012 we’ve been operating on a one-in-one-out policy where someone must be resident in a foreign country, which, to be honest, makes things logistically difficult. I miss them. So, because I can’t be a normal human, I’ve come up with a plan. It’s called: Five Things. The idea is that I will see each of them, individually, no spouses, no kids, just two of us, for one, specific ‘thing’, during this year. One meet up each to see where we’re at. Who we are now. What’s going on in our lives. The past decade has incorporated a lot of change for all of us and though I’m incredibly proud of each of them, it feels like we’ve grown apart. It’s understandable, and I’m not mad, but I am sad about it. I’m pretty sure we don’t interact the way we used to. It’s hard to share your life in text messages and pit stop cups of tea on the way past. It’s easier to misinterpret, misunderstand, skim the surface. We’re the same people, but we’re also completely different people now, and I find myself wondering if we’d still be friends if we met today. So here we are. Five Things.
The astute among you may have spotted that there are four of them and five things. This is not a mathematical oversight, rather the fifth thing is set to be all five of us together. It’s a bloody nightmare to organise, I can tell you that. But if I have to kidnap the bastards, it’s happening.
I can’t speak for them, but it feels like a good plan to me (more the ‘things’, less the kidnappings) and they are duty bound to shut up and accept it. They can roll their tiny, emoji eyes in the group chat later.