I met with an old friend today. We started meeting up every so often to catch up and subject each other to a glorious two-hour session of awkwardness.
It shouldn’t be awkward. We grew up together, we were friends for years until we grew apart as teenagers. We have a great deal in common, or at least we used to. Years of sleepovers and camping trips and shared experiences.
And there we sat, two women, one slightly older than the other. She was as pretty and composed as she’d always been and I sat there feeling nervous and on edge and wishing I could think of something more interesting to talk about that my university.
The thing is….
The thing is that she knows me. Not in the way that she knows what I’ve been up to recently or the issues I’m having with personal relationships at the moment. No, she knows the bits of me that are a little more constant. She knows the screw-up, the ditz, the girl who specialises in being unreliable. The friend who forgets birthdays, gives rubbish presents and isn’t capable of focusing on more than one person in her life at a time. She knows the girl I was before I learned to start hiding things properly.
You know, deeply internalising emotions like a proper adult.
So sitting there in front of her sipping a hot chocolate I am acutely aware of the fact that I am the screw-up friend. I went to college not university. I’m still single, my academic record is…spotty and I sit there babbling on about the first things that come into my head, fully aware that she’s looking, slightly unfocused, over my shoulder.
I wondered to myself why we bothered with these meetings, even as I promised to contact her in a few months. Why do I desperately cling to a relationship that’s long dead? Do we gather in Memorium? Am I looking for the ghost of the love I once felt for her?
Who am I kidding? I’m still going to dress up to meet her. Still going to gloss over as many of my screw-ups as possible. And I’ll stare her down across a cafe table and wonder if this is really the only friend I have that I actually trust completely.