By Kerry Thomson
My throat is scratchy, I have almost lost my voice – every bone in my skull aches and even my teeth hurt. I have sore feet. I have had three hours sleep since Friday. Flu? No…but I am ‘dosed’, as we say in Norn Iron.
But I feel great. You see, I have just come back from one of the funniest, most heartwarming and much-needed weekends away to Glasgow with old Uni friends. The sort of pals you’ve shared make-up and break-ups with, held hair back for (okay, we’re talking as students here don’t judge), and who just have to raise an eyebrow and you know exactly what they are thinking. I feel exhausted but high as a kite. I laughed so much my face aches, my feet hurt from all the walking around the city together, my voice is gone from late night chats. I’m dosed –with a big bout of friendship!
It got me thinking about friendships as I get older. The reality is (tiny violin plays in background) I probably have fewer now than I did 10 years ago. I relocated countries, changed job, moved house three times and had two children under two –all within less than two years. To say I’ve been ‘rather busy’ is like saying Elf on the Shelf is a little bit annoying by the time you get to double digit December dates.
As I get older I can (only with hindsight) see that I have sort of shaken off acquaintances not because I don’t care, or even because I made a plan to. But because in the parenting/work/life/pet-owning/internet of things blend, you often find you have washed the dog, answered 73 emails, sorted uniforms, built an Egyptian pyramid from Weetabix boxes, dyed your hair, ordered four Christmas presents, hoovered and ironed the collar of your work top with your hair straighteners (you’re welcome –game changer) all before breakfast. Finding time to ‘grab coffee’ with someone you once met at your third cousin’s wedding reception gets harder. And I don’t even feel that bad about it.
But what I do feel bad about is when I don’t make time for the real friends, the good eggs, the keepers. The ones who have been there through thick and thin (literally in my case…a University bestie rescued the first meal I ever cooked for a guy I was madly in love with at 19 when I foolishly poured a whole pan of lovingly homemade cheese sauce down the sink while trying to sieve out the lumps. Reader he married me –cheesy but true. She gave me a jar of Dolmio and we had pasta that night instead).
As the festive flurry approaches, here’s five types of friends who keep me ‘well dosed’ whatever the season.
- The Keeper
She’s reading this, because she always does. The friend who has seen you at your best and your worst and vice versa. Her best advice: “No matter how rubbish things feel at this moment, it will get better, 60 seconds at a time. And you can always manage a few chips.”
- The Visitor
I don’t see this pal very often, literally every few years. But when I do she energises me beyond belief. She’s super smart, witty, honest and ridiculously stylish. And when she visited me in hospital after my babies were born she brought me Vogue instead of nappy cream. I kissed her.
- The School Mom Friend
I have more than one of these friends. Everyone needs someone they can share a ‘help’ text with when it comes to organising nativity costumes and finding a petrol station that sells snowman-shaped buns the night before the school fair.
- The Work Friend
There’s a brilliant scene in the US medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. Cristina and Meredith are work friends. They work long hours and they are conscientiously tired and wired. But they are more than work friends. Yes, they sometimes disagree, they have hurt each other without ever meaning to, they’ve even pulled hair (just for clarity I’ve never done that). Google the scene –the line, “you’re my person”. I’m lucky to have that. It’s the work relationship where you always check in no matter how busy you both are. You’ve always got each other’s back. And you laugh far more than is reasonable. You have a mutual sense of perspective on organised chaos of working/parenting. You can tell each other when you’re being a pain in the…and she will genuinely tell you if your bum looks big in this.
- The New Friend
Okay, scratch what I said about the circle getting smaller. This is the important bit! And a note to self, ‘never become so busy that you forget to see what’s in front of you’.The new friend. I made one quite recently –across our garden fence. A new friend is even more precious as you get older, because do you know what? They’re busy too. They’re also juggling it, living it, working it, winging it, making cereal box models at 1am. And if you’re lucky enough to make their list – grab them with both hands this Christmas! (Not literally, that’s a bit weird and not how to make friends). But tell them they are special. And be thankful for friends – old ones and new. I know I am.
Now pass me a tissue, I have something in my eye. I must be getting a dose of something…