Author’s note: This article was originally published on Wait A Minute Now in 2018. It was written before the world came to a standstill and I was in my mid-twenties and still said things like “my heart was full”. While so much has changed since then, I wanted to share this piece as a reminder of how magical friendships can be.
As I waited for the bus on Regent Street, my heart was full of love and magic that only my friends could have ignited. I was high on it.
It was a sweet evening filled with food, wine, desserts, and laughter and conversations that one only has with really good friends. From my two and a half years of full-time travel, I knew that moments like these were scarce and rare.
I had just introduced two of my closest friends to each other, one getting ready to leave London, whilst another just arriving – and me, as usual, just passing through. There’s always something satisfying– like brownies oozing the perfect amount of chocolate – when two of your closest friends meet up and get along.
Having made countless long haul trips, each lasting 3 to 5 months at a time, I’ve grown accustomed to meeting people on the go, adding them on Facebook and liking their pictures on Instagram for the rest of my days. None of these day- or week long experiences, though amazing, could ever replace friendships built over years. Years in school, years at work, years hanging out with the same group of people, years made up of 365 days, years that were hard, years that were crucial in shaping me into whatever I am today. All those years and all those experiences cannot be replaced by a glimpse of me in Chiang Mai or Amsterdam or Berlin.
In the age of one-click deliveries and immediate gratification, these friendships seem that much more precious.
When I was younger, I always wanted a close-knit friend group, like the ones you see on Friends or New Girl, but life never gave me that. Sure, I had close friends but over time, we grew apart. We never lasted for as many seasons.
As a child, no one told me to guard my heart against girl friends, no one told me that my expectations might not always be met. It wasn’t until much later that I found that not all friendships are equal and not all friends will care about me as much as I did them. Those years were brutal and sometimes, they really hurt.
Today, as I’m older and a fraction wiser, I’ve found a few good girl friends who I can count on no matter what (and I hope I do the same for them too). I celebrate when my friends achieve greatness and weep with them when they get hurt (or curse their dickhead boss and volunteer to key his car).
I’m so happy I get to show my friends how much I care for them and truly love them, without sounding overbearing or like I care too much. It’s not a sign of weakness or softness to care about somebody. I believe the world would be a lot better if we gave more fucks about the people we claim to care about.
I sometimes send postcards with illustrations that remind me of a particular person, and I sometimes receive chocolates during a hard day at work. A friend sends me a meme over Instagram she thinks I might like, I reply with a sparkly heart emoji. A friend sounds upset in her text messages, I ask Why and Would you like to talk about it.
Sometimes, it’s just a text saying Hey, I know you’re busy but I miss you and am sending good vibes. No reply expected.
When my two friends met, we inevitably talked about our work and careers and lives and our futures, seamlessly switching between topics and rarely needing to explain jokes or phrases. It was easy and it felt like home.
It’s funny how they both shared the same concerns and excitements about my life, having never met each other before. High fives were exchanged when they shared similar opinions about the men in my lives, raised eyebrows were exchanged when I shied away from tough questions about my future. Isn’t it normal to not know where you’re headed until you get there?
They could barely conceal their high fives and eyebrows, and I couldn’t ignore them because my friends couldn’t care less about being tactful if they thought I was making a big mistake. It was like having a HD mirror that reflected every part of my life back to me, even the bits I tried to sweep under the carpet. Sincere, honest-to-god care for someone else that isn’t a romantic other is what my girl friends have found space for in their big hearts, even if I sometimes drive them up the wall (as all really good friends do).
It’s like we all take turns to champion and to fight for one another while we find our place in the world. These girls are my loudest cheerleaders and the fiercest fighters for my happiness. I’d do the same for them on any given day.
My 20s have been pretty unconventional so far, sometimes frustratingly so. I have no idea how I would’ve survived had it not been for my ever present and ever giving friends. They’ve entered my life at different stages and under different circumstances, and while some have exited, there are a treasured few who are just a text away.