It's been a slightly emotional week for a lot of reasons. Boy stuff. Friends stuff. Stuff, stuff, stuff. All far too boring and tedious to talk about here, but all a bit distracting in it's way.
The upshot is that I've had a bit of a Facebook cull, and it was, I can report, extremely cathartic.
Facebook is a strange thing to me. It's put me in touch with some people who I'm truly sorry that I've lost touch with. Just last week, an old friend looked me up. I'd thought about her a lot over the years, and tried to look her up myself, with no joy. It was great to piece together some of her life from snippets of news and a handful of photos. And other friends - people I've kept in touch with, but rarely get to see or talk to - are now more accessible. Maybe I only have a one sentence update from them every few days, or a couple of photos from time to time, but they are now part of my everyday life again, in a way that everyday life otherwise really wouldn't allow.
But there are other people too. People who are not really friends at all, but who have identified me a a friend only in this strange and hypothetical world. I am extremely lucky to still count amongst some of my closest friends, people I went to school with fifteen years ago, and more. We meet up from time to time and share stories and gossip and news, and they are always very easy people to drop back into a patter with. But other people I went to school with have also become Facebook friends, and this is strange to me. These are people who I would never send a Christmas card to, who would probably not stop and talk to on the street, and who I hardly spoke to at school. So why do they want to label me as a friend now? Just a numbers game really, isn't it? Those people were, I'm afraid for the chop.
I have learned some valuable lessons this year about the difference between people I know, and friends. Real friends, I mean, who root for you, and who you will root for. It only really counts if it cuts both ways. I've realised that, if, when the chips are down, the person you are calling on to put their money where their mouth is actually shrugs and walks away, then you can't count them amongst your circle anymore. If, when you ask them to be your friend, they aren't, well then ... there you have it. And it's hard to come back from that point. Once you know that they are only a fairweather friend, it's hard, in my experience, to make the effort again to do the everyday stuff without feeling slightly bitter. Those people have also been dropped. I've been very cut-throat about this, haven't I?
But then, it needs to be about more than support in times of trouble, doesn't it? I mean, let's be honest, we'd all hope that actually, we'll never need to call up the support network, but actually be able to just enjoy our friends. A very good pal (and reader of this 'ere blog. Hello!!) told me this week that a girl in her immediate circle of friends had cooed at her, "you're my best friend", and she'd replied, "no, I'm not," for she had noticed that if said friend needed a favour, she would be the first on the list, but that if she wanted to go out on the town, she'd call everyone else first. I know that they say "a friend in need is a friend indeed", but you want these people to be around for a sneaky G&T and a laugh in between times, no?
I've always shied a away from the phrase "best friend". It makes me squirm a little. Firstly, there is a need for that kind of accolade to be mutual, and things don't always work like that, so there's always a risk that a nose will be put out of joint. But also, it rather smacks of putting all your eggs in one basket to me.
I don't want one best friend, and a host of runners up. I want a network of fabulous friends who I love, and who I want to be available to always, and who I can socialise with, play out with, and enjoy entirely. I want to know that I can trust, and am trusted by these lovely people, and that this is the basis of our true and valuable friendship. It's about the quality and not the quantity, to me.
Doesn't sound like too much to ask, does it? So do this one small thing for me now. Go onto Facebook, or look down your Christmas card list, and identify one person who you know doesn't deserve you ... and delete them! I promise you, it's a beautifully liberating experience! Go on ... you know you want to!!
house of eels: july 2017*
1 week ago