What is friendship now?
Friendship is a funny old thing, especially how it changes over the years. When you’re younger and at school you see your friends all day, every day, and they are so much more important than anyone else in your life. You can’t even imagine a time when those people won’t be your whole world.
For some people that friendship carries on right into adulthood and through parenthood. But for most of us it falls by the wayside, as we move away, get married, have children, and change.
I started thinking about friendship recently, when two old friends from my bar-tending days in Nice, back in the summer of 1998, came over for a night out in London with me.
Although we’re all on social media a lot, and so know what’s going on with each other’s lives, I hadn’t seen one of them for over 3 years, and the other one I see maybe 3 times a year.
Despite this we had a great night, and picked up from the olden days of working in expat bars on the French Riviera until 3am, and going out drinking until long after the sun had come up. It was really lovely to know that the friendship of our early twenties, when we were footloose and fancy-free, has translated itself to a (slightly) more mature, but still fun, late thirties version, taking into consideration the 8 children we have between us!
After they left, I sat with my hangover and pondered friendships I’ve had over the years and where I’m at now.
Whilst I had some good friends at school I lost touch with most of them when I went to university, and then moved to France. With the advent of social media, and Facebook in particular, I am back in touch with many old school friends. Even if I don’t meet up with these people it’s always nice to see what they are up to. Some of them have also given me amazing support with this blog, and Franglaise Cooking, as well as sponsoring me in my Sport Relief Honkopoly challenge back in February.
I was lucky enough to have made some fab uni friends who, 20 years later, I’m still good friends with and who I still meet up with frequently. Our husbands/wives know each other, our kids are friends with each other. Despite the distance we have managed to come together yearly, to have a weekend all together, just catching up, eating, drinking, talking, drinking some more, talking some more, and just revelling in our lovely, comfortable friendship.
Not nice friends. Nice Friends. Friends I made when I moved to Nice, France. I lived in the Nice region from the age of 22 to 34, which was a period of such transition – I arrived as a fresh graduate and left as a married mum. So my friends whilst I was there reflect that – I have expat friends who I met when working in an expat bar in the old town of Nice, I have French friends who I made through work, through my first French boyfriend, through Hubs or neighbours. I have friends of all ages and all nationalities from this period of my life. Friends who have seen me through dating, relationships, break-ups, a wedding and then a marriage, a miscarriage, a pregnancy, a birth, L’s early years, house buying, house selling, setting up a business, closing down a business, and massive life-changing decisions. The highs and the lows. And with social media the vast majority of these global friends can be in my life every day, even if I can’t physically be with them.
I have had some interesting old jobs over the years (working for a man who worked for the Russian Mafia and was arrested for fraud, working for a self-proclaimed witch who was apparently burnt at the stake in a past life just to mention a couple), and what would work be without friends that you make there. When I first started working in London I loved the social life that came with my job, Friday lunches out and after work drinks were all the norm, not to mention camping trips away together with our families. I can remember some hilarious moments with work friends over the years, making the day-to-day so much more fun.
School mum friends
When we moved to London, L started nursery school and I discovered a new friendship, that of the school mums. School in the UK is far more sociable than school in France, with the parents regularly meeting up for coffee mornings or pub nights out, and I’m lucky enough that the mums/dads at L’s school are really lovely. And very sociable. And like wine. And partying. Need I say more?
About a year and a half ago one of our neighbours set up a neighbourhood watch group in our road, taking us from a street of Londoners who might smile good morning at each other, to a group of friends who have street parties, go to the pub for drinks together, and have our own babysitting circle. It’s wonderful to live in a big city but to know, and be friends with, your local neighbours.
Having missed out on NCT first time round when I had L in France, I decided that it was something I really wanted to do for my second pregnancy. Cue me meeting 7 wonderful women who helped me get through the early days with a (second) new baby. Despite most of our group being back at work now, we still manage to meet up (with and without kids), and to keep our friendship going.
And what about the most controversial group of friends?
Blogger and online friends
For those people who don’t blog, and don’t do social media, the idea of being friends with someone who you’ve never met, and who lives miles away, is a very strange one. For those of us who blog and who are on social media, it is the most normal, natural and wonderful thing in the world. Since starting on my blogging journey I have met the most amazing people. Brave, funny, talented, wonderful people. Friends who I see once a year, maybe more, friends I often have never met. These people know me, know (sometimes quite private) details about my life, and these people get me. Non-bloggers often ask me if the blogging world isn’t quite a lonely one. But it’s the opposite. It’s the most welcoming, friendly and open community. And sometimes those online friends become real life ones, and those are often the most solid friendships of all.
This blog post is dedicated to all my friends – online, offline, new, old – thank you for being in my life and for making it a better place 🙂