There’s changing room friends, brunch friends, weekend walks and girls’ night out friends. Friends in the same town that you chat to constantly. They’re present for important decisions about skinny jeans versus boyfriend cut, and know exactly what happened that night at the club. They’re part of the furniture of your life and you love them for it.
And then there’s the old pals that you don’t see much of. Instead of casual trips to the cinema, you meet up for occasional weekends, or have irregular mammoth sessions on Skype. It’s their bird’s eye perspective on your life that makes them really special.
Checking in occasionally, they’ve got snapshots of your life, the big picture. They can confirm home truths like the suspicion you’ve had that your new haircut is exactly the same as the misbegotten chop you tried out fifteen years ago, or that you’ve been at your ‘new’ weight for nearly a decade.
They’ll go through your kitchen cupboard and pinpoint your life and times since you’ve last caught up through the dried goods in stock.
‘Sardines? You only bought them for the fancy tin. Hmmm, oatbran. Dukan diet. Egg white powder. Atkins as well? Protein shake? Unopened. You’ve never liked shakes.’
It’s simultaneously comforting and galling to know that they’re right. Same thing goes when your long-distance friend asks you the hard questions about whether your relationship is really right for you, because they’re not part of the day-to-day chat about how things will be much better once you’ve gotten over this rough patch.
They know you well enough to tell you bluntly that you’re in a career rut, or in danger of burning out. Or that no matter how passionate your current interest in archery is, it’s likely to go the way of line dancing, kickboxing or that hot yoga that you were obsessed about last time they were in town.
Of course, you’ve got the same insight on their lives too. Catching up is mutually cathartic – and once you’ve sorted out the world together, you’ll both feel better for it. And when you part ways again until the next transatlantic call or Christmas pint, you both know that no matter where you are in the world, your friendship is strong.
Jenny Coyle @missmitford is a London-based writer. She makes up stuff in her head and turns it into books, tweets pedantically about misappropriated commas and knows a lot of David Bowie lyrics. She helps big companies sound more human when they talk to their customers too. Her first book ‘Big in Japan’ is published by Lilliput Press.