I think its been discussed to death on this blog that I don’t make friends easily. I’m naturally very shy and even with a few wines down my gob when chatty Jen emerges so too does one of two personas:
- Weird Jen that evokes lengthy silences whenever she speaks (I don’t know, it made sense in my head)
- Or the sadly-more-common-these-days-Jen who is painfully BORING and gives stock standard responses
Boring Jen is more regular these days to avoid a repeat of the whispered, “she’s weird” experienced all through my high school years. There were lots of hang ups I left high school with (teen Mum and drop out anyone?) but the only one that’s lingered after more than 10 years is “she’s weird”.
Anywho! Back to the actual topic of this post.
I think we all have friends from high school who we remain friends with largely due to nostalgia.
For my hubby the friends he made in his teen years he shares the strongest bond with, and though work mates may come and go he will stay in contact with his mates from that period in his life until he’s old and grey.
I was a loner in high school. I only really had one friend and that friendship formed primarily out of us both being a little, “odd“.
We kept in touch over the years (bar one falling out after a night drinking when we were 19) and caught a chick flick a few times a year with some guilt free popcorn and chocolate munching for good measure.
Then as you all know we moved to London, thousands of miles from friends and family and there were no more girly movie nights to be had.
I’ve kept in touch with my friend via Facebook and its the message history there and long chats with my hubby and sister-in-law that have lead me to this dilemma.
Am I holding onto something that hasn’t really existed for years?
I’m thinking back to all those movie nights over the 9 years before we left Australia and for the most part it was always ME asking HER if she wanted to catch a movie and then following up to make sure it happened.
This kind of feels like my revelations about my relationship with my parents all over again, only on a much smaller scale this time.
On top of it always being me doing the asking:
- I was always the one offering to drive to her nearest cinema (we’d normally meet up at her house and then drive the extra 10 minutes to the cinema together), it only strikes me now that it was never on the cards for her to drive in my direction or us to take it in turns….she lived (and still does) with her parents, I had three kids and a husband
- I was always the one making conversation on the drive to the movies. Asking about her work, boyfriends, had she spotted anyone from school recently or heard any goss?
- She never took any interest in my kids. I’m all for separating fun from the drone of family life but someone who you’ve called your, “best friend” for years surely should throw you a question like, “how are the kids” every once and a while…right?
- She constantly made it clear she didn’t like my husband. Not because of anything he had done in recent years but because she didn’t like him in high school…at all
- I always reshuffled my life to free up the dates she was available, never the other way round
Please don’t take this as a bagging out on my friend session. We didn’t have a falling out, in fact it’s the absence of anything that has me thinking. It’s kind of a shock to me that I never noticed the balance of power was always on her. How could I have been so blind?
Does it come down to me clinging to a friend I have a nostalgic connection with despite it clearly not having progressed from high school to an adult relationship? Or is it in reality an even sadder truth, that I’m afraid to abandon that one friend I’ve managed to keep over the years? What will it say about me if I give up my last physical (i.e not text on a screen…not that there’s anything wrong with that!) friend other than my husband?
The penny dropped when we got to Australia for a holiday. As a side I had made it really clear with status updates and what not that we were about to leave London and travel to Aus for a holiday. Mutual friends of hubby and I’s contacted us weeks before then asking if we could catch up whilst we were in the country. I replied back and we organised a date BEFORE we had even boarded the plane. I gotta tell ya, its nice catching up with friends who actually make it clear they WANT to have the pleasure of your company.
Back to my friend from high school. I told her our travel dates in April. APRIL! I asked if she wanted to catch a movie or two whilst we’re there. She of course replied saying she’d love to catch a movie and was looking forward to it. I sent her another message a few weeks before our holiday in August/September and didn’t receive a response.
I didn’t want to be pushy and we were very busy with family stuff once we landed in Australia so I just left it be hoping she’d reply to me soon. Things didn’t pan out as well as I’d hoped financially and we couldn’t afford to rent a car. My mother-in-law was lovely and let us borrow her car on a number of occasions if we organised it with her in advance. I however couldn’t drive it because I only have an automatic license (goodness knows I’m an atrocious driver without having to take one hand off the wheel to change gears) and we were restricted by my sister-in-law needing surgery and naturally needing her mum by her side during our stay.
Long story short. I contacted her yet again but as hard as I tried I couldn’t organise a night where someone could drive me to my friend’s house to catch a movie on one of the nights she was free. There was never any offer to come and pick me up (I felt uncomfortable asking her but I did make it clear that the problem was transport and lack there of) and when I contacted her she acted surprised that I was in Australia and the responses were very short (if I let the crazies get to me I might have sensed a bit of an annoyed tone…but I won’t go there).
Note: For any one outside of Australia (and more specifically Ipswich/Brisbane) the public transport is shite and unreliable. Unless you live in inner-city Brisbane you really need a car to get around reliably.
I felt so guilty for letting her down when I couldn’t arrange transport to meet up with her. At the time when I was mulling over how bad I felt about the whole thing, my hubby and sister-in-law were snorting at what a terrible friend I had and gave examples of the effort they themselves and their friends go to for each other. I shrugged their comments off:
- We have a different kind of friendship, we’re both a bit “odd” so allowances have to be made.
- But wait a minute, wasn’t I always the one making allowances?
- Wasn’t I always the one doing the asking, the reshuffling of my life, the driving over 40 minutes after getting my kids to bed to come and see her?
- Was I the only one in this friend ship all these years?
- Maybe I’ve been pushing my way in where I wasn’t wanted?
- How could I have been so blinded by this desire to keep a Nostalgia Friendship alive?
Now as an adult, if a close friend (not that I have any of those apparently) was coming to London and they wanted to meet up I’d have written down their travel dates (or kept a mental note that I could find them on facebook). I’d have asked my friend if they needed help getting around. I wouldn’t sit and wait to hear from them, I’d get in contact with them. Does that make me needy and over the top, or is that how this friendship thing is meant to be done?
The whole thing is a little depressing to say the least. I’m not depressed to realise this friend was never really that into me (glaringly obvious now) but because I can now no longer say, “I’ve only got one proper friend, but…”. As of now all I’ve got are three adorable kiddo’s and a husband who is my best friend.
It’s both wonderful and frightening for your husband to be the love of your life and your BFF all rolled into one. That’s a lot to ask of one person.
So dear readers, what about you? Do you have Nostalgia Friends? Are they worth keeping around to revisit every few years and fill a void or have you had to call it quits at some point during your adult years? Maybe your Nostalgia Friend is your bestie and you still get along like you did that first time you met when you were 7?