Recently, I've been thinking a lot about friendship and the way it changes over years. The picture above shows me and A., my dearest childhood friend (in psychadelic 1980s colours) with whom I was pretty much inseparable between the ages of 1 and 18. We lived in the same apartment block (my family on the first floor, hers on the ground floor) in Klagenfurt for those 17 years. My parents then moved into a house, her parents first relocated to Budapest, then also moved out. We had a lot in common: she's less than 2 months older than me, we are both only children, both my parents and her father used to be teachers (all retired now) and our dads actually got to know each other when they had summer jobs with German Wagon Lits in the wild 1960s. A. and I never had a fall-out or notified each other that we would basically not communicate any more, but just grew apart despite the fact that we both studied in Vienna and both remained there after graduation. We don't even exchange birthday wishes or Christmas cards anymore, but when we bump into each other every few years, like at my granny's funeral or recently at my Mum's "gallery open house", we get on really well and chat like the old friends we were.
I guess that you have friendships that fit different stages in your life, some of the friends remain close to you for decades, other friendships undergo various cycles of "promotion" and "demotion" without them necessarily being synchronous for the parties involved.
So A. was my first friend and sister substitute, but we already started to grow apart when we attended different high schools. In that phase, I became friends e.g. with Frida and the Mermaid, the Pampered Princess and her sister, all of whom are still good friends of mine whom I see regularly.
In my first years of university, I made some friends with whom I have no contact whatsoever now. It was only in my last two years that I got to know Amica and the other book club girls better and later became friends with them. I actually met Prefab Babe on my first day at university, but again, we lost sight of each other after graduation and only rekindled our friendship when she temporarily lived just across the road from me during the week.
At Coma HQ, I spent so much time with my colleagues, whom I liked a lot, that it was one of the reasons why I ended up staying there for 9 years. I seriously thought I would never get to work with such nice people again. Now, 6+ years later, it is actually Meticulous M, the colleague I least considered a friend among those colleagues, to be honest, who turned out to be the most loyal.
During the 11 years I went out with Mr. TD, I got on well with his friends as well and it hurt quite a bit that his best friend whom I liked a lot cut of off relations with me out of solidarity after our break-up.
Now at the Firm, I first found the Empress a scary robot and gave her a wide berth, but as regular readers know (love declaration here
on the occasion of her imminent move to France) things changed and I have visited her 3 times already in Paris. In fact, visiting her in Paris reminds me a lot of visiting L'Italiana (a friend I made when on Erasmus in Dublin) when she still lived in London and just like with her, we might not have heard from each other for ages, but immediately click and it's as if we had not been apart. I joined a new team last year and again, I really get on well with all of them and the only other female team-member and. We share the same kind of humour and get on like a house on fire on business trips.
Recently, however, I've become a bit depressed with two of my besties "biting the dust", i.e. being pregnant and thus diminishing my already rather sad excuse for a social life even further. Don't get me wrong, I am very happy for them, but the selfish part of me knows from experience that gone are the days when I can count them in for any spontaneous social activities and they will choose to spend the little free time they have with me rather than with their (new-found) friends who have kids the same age. I would totally be the same in their shoes. It really got me thinking that my partner-less, childless stage might be one reason why most of the friendships I formed in recent years are with considerably younger people (well, colleagues, mostly). Not only do they share many of my juvenile interests, but they remain potential partners in crime for spur of the moment activities unlike my "settled" friends who need to coordinate their social calendar with partners and babysitters.
Speaking of depressed, I noticed that this blog has actually contributed to my lack of face-to-face interaction with people: When I originally started it back in 2005, none of my real-life friends knew about it. Nowadays, most do and about half of them claim to be regular readers. Some of the latter see it as a convenient way of finding out what I am up to and, moreover, where I currently am. A way of checking on me. This means that they don't need to talk to me to find out what's going on and I often find myself mentioning something and the other party interrupting me with "Yep, read that on your blog" as if I had told a boring joke again or had early-onset Alzheimer's. Please, dear friends of the World Out There, I don't know how often you stop by on this humble site of mine, but I do like talking to you in person. Just humour me and pretend you don't know where I have been and what I have bought in 1 out of 10 cases. Thank you.