I sat in the Wetherspoons at lunchtime eating my burger and looking about. It's newly opened in the 'town' and quite the talk of it. It's always full which always leads me to wonder where all these people used to go to drink and eat. Did they just stay at home?
My eye alights on one of the booths where there are 6 ladies in their 40s and 50s sat. Wine buckets are on the table, sharing platters in situ. They are all talking at once, several conversations overlapping and get periodically louder as excitement levels reach fever pitch.
It's not really the sight I want to see when I'm feeling so alone.
I wonder if that will be me in 10-20 year's time. Will I have made a tight group of friends by then (please god)? Will I still be friends with the people I'm friends with now?
I wonder where it all went wrong. I'm in the minority of people who are not still close to the people they went to school with. I'm not even that close any more with the people I went to university with (American Girl and American Boy in exception). It feels like it would be silly to blame anything else but me - I'm the only common thread. But then I get defensive. I could blame myself for not making an effort, but then others didn't make any either. Plus we're at the point where lives begin to drastically diverge - as people get married and have children I've watched the friendships they have slowly diminish - there's less time for friendships, and even less time for friendships where the other person doesn't have a baby and "can't understand what my life is like right now."
It must happen to others, I can't be the only one.
I wonder if I'll ever get to sit around that table with a group of gossipy friends.
And then I realise.
I do sit around a table every night with a group of gossipy friends. It's called the interwebs.
I show my face on Twitter every single day and more often than not pipe up in a conversation that's being had on there. I ask questions and offer up solutions. I exclaim with delight at photos of cats and share pictures of what I've had for tea that night. They're only the small things, but it's the small things that make a friendship - it's the random snippets of information that we share that give us an insight in to each other's lives.
It shouldn't really have come as a surprise that I've made a return to blogging. Because it's where a lot of my friendships now come from and are based on. I've been talking to some of you for years and years now, how weird is that? I tell you things I would never tell the people that I work with, or even some of my 'real life' friends.
'Real life'. That's a weird phrase isn't it. I've just gone back through this post and put quotation marks around each time I've mentioned it (hopefully). I still make the distinction to people when I talk about the people I know online. When I told people about going to Norbury Manor I got myself in a pickle trying to explain who I was going with when really I didn't need to. I just needed to say "I'm going away with some friends."
I couldn't have written an e-mail to my friends that contained within it the words that I wrote in my post last week. Even if I could have I wouldn't have experienced the plethora of comments and Tweets that I received. Sometimes it is about quantity and at a point where you're feeling quite alone, to realise that there are people out there is all you need to decide that maybe getting up in the morning won't be so bad after all.
And yes, of course, eventually, there will be new friends. I will get a car and I will be able to join the groups I would like to join and I will meet new people. And yes, I can try to rebuild and repair the cracks that have appeared in already existing friendships. But also I will make every effort to remember that some of the friends that have got me through this past year are you guys.
And I would like to thank you for that.
Here endeth the mush.