I am very fortunate that I am still good friends with a group of girls I’ve known since school. Scarily, that means our friendship now dates back over twenty years. I’m not quite sure how the time passed so quickly, but it is an extraordinary privilege to have people in my life who’ve been around for such a long time, and since such a formative stage.
We’ve seen each other through innumerable bad haircuts, unfortunate clothing experiments and unsuitable crushes. Of course, the nature of our friendship has changed over the years. Twenty years ago I knew their wardrobes and make-up bags like my own. I could tell you every boy they’d ever kissed and exactly who they fancied right now. We would spend all day together at school and then the second we got home be on the phone to do the equivalent of a post-match analysis. This was pre-mobile phones, and (as far as we were concerned) pre-internet, so all these crucial conversations were conducted in furtive whispers on the landline in the corner of the living room. One of the happiest days of my teenage life was when my parents bought a cordless phone. They may have regretted it, of course, because it then vanished into my room and they didn’t see it again until I left for university. I suppose they and my younger brother must have resorted to carrier pigeon for any communications with their own friends.
Inevitably that level of intimacy doesn’t survive into adult life. Geography is one factor – I see less of them than they see of each other, because most of them still live in Liverpool. Our lives got busier and more complex; careers in completely different fields, relationships, houses, babies. I no longer have time (or inclination) to spend an hour analysing which Body Shop lip balm I should buy. My go-to person when I have a problem to discuss, or good or bad news to share, is now my husband. From being each other’s entire world we now have much wider and more diverse groups of friends from university, work, NCT classes etc. Sometimes months go by with little more contact than a couple of emails or an exchange or two on Facebook.
But when I do meet up with them, as I did for the day on Saturday, it is always, instantly, as though we saw each other the day before and the last fifteen years haven’t happened. Saturday was an especially lovely day as they’d all come to London to hold a joint baby shower for me and one of the other girls, who is expecting her first baby on New Year’s Eve. My husband took Anna off for a day of quality Daddy time and so, despite my enormous bump, I instantly felt carefree and ten years younger. We had a long, lazy pub lunch, a spot of vintage clothes shopping, and then retired to the Air B&B flat the girls had rented for the weekend to eat our own body weight in cake and for J and I to be totally indulged and spoilt by enormous numbers of thoughtful and generous gifts. We had a huge catch up, and decided that with two babies expected very shortly, and quite a lot of broodiness around, the next few years would be a blur of child-rearing, and so lazy and relaxing get-togethers would be few and far between, but we pledged that we would save up, and make sure we organise the restrictions of pregnancy and breastfeeding sufficiently so that we can have a weekend away together to celebrate our 40th birthdays in around six years time.
So thank you, ladies. I had a wonderful day on Saturday, and feel so lucky to have you all. And to have experienced pinata in cake form…