It was my best friend's birthday this week. I didn't see her. In fact, I didn't even send her a card. This is not just because I'm utterly rubbish (although I am). She's moved recently to New York, and I don't (or thought I didn't) have her new address.
But it's got me thinking about our relationship, and the likelihood that it will be a very long time before I actually see her again for all that we are regularly in touch, and from that to how many friends I am going to lose over this move...
But back to my best friend. To be honest, that description's a bit of artistic licence because she's not really my best friend any more, although she's still special to me, and I hope I am to her. We were inseparable at university after we bonded over a pair of rubbish boys (one (hers) now married to another mutual friend, and the other (never actually mine, but I lived in hope) missing, presumed somewhere in the UK.) But since university we've gone our separate ways. She's had to work exceptionally hard, and often anti-social hours, to get to the successful place she is now, and I was doing all the mundane mummy stuff that fills up your day and your mind without you knowing, and the result is that our lives have just drifted apart, as they do. We both know this, and although it is sad, I realise that that is the way things go.
But now, it will be even less likely that we will see each other. She will be in New York, I will be in Scotland. When she comes back to the UK it will be to London where her family and many of her friends are, and if that doesn't happen to coincide with when I'm here, we are unlikely to meet...
In a way I'm not too worried. We will stay in touch and when it matters we will make that effort and we will see each other.
But what of the others? What of the people I have worked with for the last ten years, or the women I have shared the first few years of our children's lives with, or the neighbours who I have got to know so well living in this house?
Because a lot of them I will say goodbye to in less than four weeks' time, and then I will, literally, never see them again. Oh, we might send Christmas cards, or keep in touch on facebook, or if I'm very brave I'll give them this blog address and they can keep in touch with my witterings that way, but it's not the same. These are people I've seen four or five times a week.
Now there are lots of people that I know I will see, because they are lovely, and I love them, and they have already booked in their dates to visit us, or we have plans to see them when we are down, or we will be on the phone and sorting something out just as soon as the first boxes are unpacked.
And there are other people where I realise that our friendships are superficial, and we would have slipped apart anyway. Someone said to me the other day "Well, I guess we won't see each other again, good luck". I stood there, mouth agape, unsure what to say. It seemed so final. We're not that close, and I'm sure there are other people to whom I have been closer and with whom I have lost touch. But to say it, out loud, seemed almost violent.
But at least it was honest. Is it better to do, and be, that than to make promises of keeping in touch, calling regularly, making efforts to see them when I'm down here, when I know in my heart of hearts that there are a (largeish) handful of people who really fit into that category and the others, well, I am very fond of them, but there just isn't going to be time...? And how do I choose? How can I tell? Because I suspect that there are some people who I will lose despite my hope and efforts.
Realistically, I know that this is just the same, though happening over a quicker time-frame, as what has happened between me and the best friend. Friendships change, we change, we move on or away, we have different interests, and different friends for different stages of our lives. But this feels different. These are people who I'm not drifting away from. I am breaking these relationships and walking away from them deliberately. And I'm not just doing it to my friends. L and A and S, but particularly L, all have friends here, and some of them they too will never see again. And how on earth do I begin to explain that to them?
On the upside - if you're reading this, and you know me, and you've secretly been wanting to get rid of me for years...now is your opportunity.
This sculpture is actually entitled Welcome Home and it's at Fleetwood in Lancashire. I didn't take it. I found it at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Family_waving_goodbye.JPG
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