Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Old Friends


I used to have a best friend at school and we always swore we would stay friends for the rest of our lives. She was very tall, I was a shortie, she had very long blonde hair, I had a mop of dark curls, she was the cleverest girl in the school, I was the one who messed around in class (but not during English because I loved it too much), she didn't have very much, I was over-indulged - thus we were a perfect contrast.

I was there the first time she slept with a man - well, not actually in the room; I'd left home and various friends who had stayed on at school used to come and spend the weekend and pretend to be adults. My best friend was there quite often and grew very close to my landlord - and I got used to the sight of one or the other of them wandering round the house starkers. I was pleased they had become a couple, although once I went back home they drifted apart. After that she and I were both involved with the accidental burning down of a kitchen that belonged to someone who is a very famous household name today - if only that hadn't happened no doubt we'd be on the board of a celebrated company - oh well, who needs money and power anyway?

My friend went up to Oxford and quite a few years down the line got her Phd. I went through various phases - none of which she approved of (but then I was in a state of mind that things like that just didn't bother me). We stayed in touch and then got quite friendly again when all of a sudden we had a stupid row and just stopped talking. In fact it wasn't so much a row - more the fact of a drifting apart and lots of bickering when we met. I thought I don't need this - and vowed to sever all connections, which was a shame because she was quite close to my parents, especially my mum, but then all my friends loved my mum.

Over the years I thought about my former best friend. I watched her academic career really take off, read the reviews of the clever books she wrote and now and then would think about getting in touch again. Once I got on a bus and her mum turned out to be the lady sitting alongside; she gave me my friend's number but I never rang her. It had been too long. Then one day I yearned to see her, I got in touch with her publisher, gave my details and a few weeks later we met up. It was like we were children again. There were no recriminations, just lots of catching up, hugs and tears. I met her teenage son,she met Mr FF. We vowed to never lose touch again.



So, do you have anyone who you were once close to and fell out with that you would really and truly love to see again?

39 comments:

Jelica said...

I have a friend with whom I was very close at university--we were like peas in a pod, always together, true soulmates. We began drifting apart in the last year and when I got a boyfriend (whom she didn't like and vice versa) things deteriorated to the point that we stopped speaking. She's a facebook friend now, but not really a friend. I often think of her but I'm not sure if we could be true friends again, with so much time passing by--she must have changed a lot, and I have, too.

Henry the Dog's Mum said...

What a lovely post. I'm so pleased that you got back together and let 'bygones be bygones' so to speak. No. I don't have any old friends like that. There are people I cared about in my past and I lost touch with them, but I don't think I'd want to re-nurture those bonds because I was a different person then, and I'm not sure we'd get on anymore. And I can't think of anyone who I 'fell out' with. I suppose there is one. An old boss. We got on really well and even when I left my job we kept in touch and would often meet up for a drink. Then I met UHugh and my old boss fell out with me big time. I'd not realised he'd fancied me all along. I was sad to lose his friendship. I think if I met him now he'd be ok about it, and probably embarrassed by his actions. I do think about him from time to time.

Lulu LaBonne said...

Gosh - I want to know all about that fire.

Something very simlar has happened between myself and a girlfriend. She has also become well-known and very successful on telly since our spat and it's that that prevents me making contact

Steve said...

That's a lovely hopeful post. I have a friend - at one time my best friend - who I have lost contact with, mainly because he stopped making an effort to stay in touch amd now only contacts me when he's in trouble or needs help which doesn't really make me happy. I guess we just grew apart because of family life / kids but I often think back wistfully to how we were when we were younger. Unfortunately i can't see us ever getting that back - neither of us now has the time and there's been so much water under the bridge...

Not Waving but Drowning said...

How lovely for you both.

GG

PS Tell us about the fire!

Dumdad said...

Yeah, Kate Winslet but I don't reply to her weepy, begging emails. Move on, get a life Katie...

Lola said...

You can't just *mention* the fire and not develop! Namedrop, go ahead. Touching story, I love reconciliations.

justme said...

Yup! I want the fire story too.
I don't think I do have anyone quite like that in my life. Mostly, when I have lost touch with people it is because things have changed and moved on. I did have one ex lover who refused to speak to me for 10 years after we split up. I was really happy when we got back in touch, but sadly, now another 15 years on, though we are still nominally in touch, I hardly see her. Not sure why.

LadyFi said...

I want the burning down a kitchen story!! I'm quite an expert at it too..

Loved your story - and it had a happy ending.

I'd love to know what happened to my best friend Nimet, who came from Kenya.

willow said...

This was a beautiful story of friendship! One we grow older and wiser, we can embrace our differences. The internet has been a wonderful tool to reconnect with lost girlhood friends! I've found several and it's been so much fun catching up. Nice post, FF!

Elizabeth said...

I think I've kept in touch with almost everyone I've ever known....
what a pathetic hanger- on- to-the- past I am....
I just can't bear to part with people even though one blows hotter or colder at intervals.
Yes, the internet is wonderful for finding old friends.
Of course we are all dying to know who your important friend is......

French Fancy said...

Jelica - I wonder how often it is men that have divided these female friendships - and likewise in gender reverse. The friend I blogged about also didn't like my ex-man - with hindsight she was absolutely right as well.

Henry's mum - If the bond is truly not there then meeting up with an old friend can be quite difficult and awkward, after the initial exuberance when you first meet again. Fancy you not realising your old boss fancied you - I can always tell :) (well I used to be able to)

Lulu - I might spill the beans about the fire another time - it is a very very famous person that is involved.Re your friend - yes, when they hit the stratosphere the balance of power is so shifted that future attempts at palling-up are bound not to work.

Steve - isn't it a shame to lose touch. The Accidental Fan recently blogged about how he would like to see his old friends occupying the space at the end of the dining table and I feel the same way- but only on a flying visit, not staying for a month or anything like that :)

NWBD - it is nice because Mr FF and I also have a sort of relationship with her son as well - I grew very fond of my mum's friends and I'm hoping her son will get to feel the same way about us. We don't really have 'youngsters' in our life and it's good to have them by proxy.

Elizabeth - it's very disciplined of you to have stayed in touch with everyone. It does take a lot of time and effort to keep friendships alive.

As for my friend - well, he definitely isn't in the present tense - we knew him for a short while and of course after burning down his kitchen friendship was off the agenda. It was lucky he never came after our parents for compensation.
Dumdad - funnily enough when she texted me the other day she asked if you were still blogging. I said stick to Sam, Kate, he loves you.

Lola - Probably I will tell all - watch this space.

justme - The friend I got back in touch with was my very very best friend for many years - I'm only sorry I didn't do it sooner. Pride and all that - silly eh?

Ladyfi - do you ever try and search online for your friend. I've got another one I'm trying to trace who moved to Bogota - I've not got anywhere yet though

willow - I've recently and belatedly joined Facebook to try and track down people from my past - well only a few. It's quite interesting

French Fancy said...

how strange - it messed about with the order in which I replied. Blogger is strange sometimes

cheshire wife said...

I don't think that I have fallen out with anybody except my brother and a succession of neighbours but I have noticed that I have fallen off some Christmas card lists. I am not sure why.

A Super Dilettante said...

A lovely post about friendship. I'm at the moment in the phase of drifting apart with a certain friend even though I love her. I don't think one can break one's relationship. It's like an invisible threat that is continuing all of our lives. We can only alter the relationship but one can't break it. But with some friendship, it's getting stronger but others are fading away like the paint on the old canvases. They just fade away with time.

Mama said...

I love happy endings, what a beautiful post FF, your mum sounds like she was a very lovely lady, you must miss her a lot, I keep in touch with a best friend of my mums even though my mum and her drifted apart, I don't really know why they but she's like an aunt to me really. Of course I want to know the burnt down kitchen story and who the very famous person was (whisper it to me, I promise not to tell her/him :-). Glad you liked San Fra/Sausalito I actually looked at houses to buy there when we first arrived here oh how naive I was back then. my best friend moved away and is not famous or anything, as least I don't think she is, we used to love hopscotch, maybe, I'll google her, you never know.

Anonymous said...

You've done what many have wanted to do. The most difficult of old friends to locate are women friends (not necessarily girl friends) because of the name change with marriage.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Very lovely post, FF. Good friends are like that - You can pick up where you left off even after years apart.

My BF is like that - We have had two periods where we have been sadly distanced by her mental health issues and she just shuts down... My door is always open for her.

And, a really good friend from College just got back in touch after around 6 years, while her son was growing up - She lives in London, and was my son's godmother, so I am very pleased about hearing from her again and we intend to meet up when I'm next in the city.

Life just sometimes gets in the way of friendships, doesn't it, FF, and you turn around and years have passed...

The Accidental Fan said...

A friend who doesn't mind you burning down his kitchen? Must be rich.

I could hazard a guess..... I think. Who has all his friends on the board of directors.... ....British....

Oooh tough one.

Pickle anyone?

French Fancy said...

cheshire wife - I've cut down my christmas card list to almost nothing these days - I think it happens to all.

ASD - it's very hard work maintaining regular contact with close friends - but, as you say, the thread is perpetual.

Mama - what a shame your mum and this lady drifted apart. I seem to be going through a real retrospective with my relationships - I think it's this Facebook malarkey - it rakes up the past. Go on - google your old friend

Anon - hello - you've hit on one of my problems - I have another old friend with whom I lost contact and of course she has a different name now. So - if anyone knows a Diana Bartram who was a probation officer in London about 20 years ago - please tell me.No, she wasn't *my* probation officer.

AWONI - 'the years have passed' - oh that sounds so poignant. They are racing away and since becoming half a century last year I'm now older than middle age. I seldom think about it actually - I just hope I stay compos mentis at the end.

French Fancy said...

TAF - who said he didn't mind? The Fire Brigade certainly did.

No names no packdrill (what on earth does that mean?)

claire p said...

Yes and no. I had a friend right from primary school and we were inseperable until our mid teens. She went to a diffrent school then and changed in ways I didn't like. I no longer recognised her. And she had started copying everything I did or trying to go one better. I have never understood why because we had never had a competative relationship before then. It may have been those she fell in with at her new school but she became spiteful and not very nice. When we started to loose touch I didn't try to stop it. She has been in touch once or twice, but only when she has wanted something from me. So I don't really want to get back in touch with her.

Go on tell us whose kitchen it was.

bindu said...

That's such a nice story! Glad to see the happy ending. I am in touch with all the close friends I ever had - right from when I was 5 years old! I have lost touch with some, but not because of any specific reason, and would love to get back in touch.

(Very) Lost in France said...

I'd love to get back in touch with my best friend from school who moved to Australia with her Aussie husband about 15 years ago. The marriage broke down and so did she and after that she burned her bridges with all her UK friends and suddenly letters went unanswered, phonecalls never returned. I'm godmother to her son, who was 4 when I last saw him. Recently found him on Facebook and he's all grown up but I respect her privacy - for the moment at least. VLiF

Ian Lidster said...

I was just thinking today that I have two former wives that I actually miss on occasion and wish I could in conscience connect with at times. No, not in that way. I am grateful that is in the past with them. But, they are part of my history and the good parts of my life with them are missed on occasion and I know I cannot get those good parts back.

French Fancy said...

claire - Isn't it funny (well weird) how people do change so much -if they are weak and around horrible people they become horrible as well, they soak up nastiness like a sponge.

bindu - how lovely to still be friendly with people you knew from the age of 5. I've never heard of that before and it says a lot about you - you are so lovely that people did not want to lose your friendship

VLIF - how tempting would it be to contact her son and try and regain your friendship with her? I have some cousins in Canada who I thought about tracing through their kids being on Facebook. Go on - if you do it then I'll do it.

Ian - crikey - all that alimony. I don't envy you at all. Isn't it a shame when love turns acrimonious? Maybe one day when you are all little old people you will be in the same retirement home as them :)

French Fancy said...

Re the fire in the kitchen - one of these posts has a very big clue - from someone who knows me very well indeed.

Brother Tobias said...

Thank you! Now I can stop wondering!

If you haven't tried this site, its use of different search engines can be helpful http://websearch.about.com/od/peoplesearch/tp/free-people-search-engines.htm

It is usually inappropriate to go searching for old girlfriends/ boyfriends when you're happily married, but that's a shame. With time most of the angst and pain of the partings has dissipated, and it would be fun to find how they had fared and see if you still had things in common, free (one hopes!) of the imbalances of rivalry and aspiration.

French Fancy said...

BroTob - well spotted, eh?

I'll try that site -it might just do the trick. There are two I'm searching for -one was my original gay best friend years ago and the other is a former very very close friend who moved away when she got married and we lost touch. Fingers crossed.

I agree with your last para. Things that grated or hurt at the time do dissipate and one is just left wondering how former lovers are faring.

Lucy Fishwife said...

I went through a stage of thinking that if you lose touch with friends then you never had anything in common in the first place, etc etc.. Possibly true if you drift apart but I had a very good friend at school with whom I fell out badly (aged 17) when she slept with my First Boyfriend (we were on a breeeak!!). Got back in touch with her two years ago and realised that I'd forgotten how much she made me laugh, and what good fun generally she was. We even laughed about the then-boyfriend - I also got in touch with him and he turned out to be an embittered git with too many issues to count. Proof that sometimes you back the wrong horse!

French Fancy said...

That must have been so very rotten at the time though - for her to go after him like that (how sexist am I to lay the blame at her feet - well, a bit higher up than her feet really).

Have you got over the holiday blues yet? Assuming you had them in the first place?

Contemporary Troubadour said...

I do have a childhood friend whom I wish I could get in touch with again. I located her e-mail through the web and wrote her a few times when I started college; never got a reply. We lost touch after I moved away from our hometown when I was 9. We did keep up some letter-writing in the first year or two after I'd left (no e-mail at that time) but weren't consistent. She was the best playmate when we were little girls -- wild imagination that took us all kinds of fun places.

French Fancy said...

ContemTroub - I bet she thinks about you as often as you do her. That's what the friend I blogged about told me anyway. Old best friends should always meet up later in life. I hope you manage to do the same.

Mary Elizabeth said...

Thanks to god for the reconciliation!. Keep always in touch with her.
I moved from country -or best to say from Continent- 3month ago, and came here so…sooooo Down under, my best friend and I are still crying by skype every day wondering if we will keep always in touch.

Congrats for nomination of Post of the Day @David’s blog.
From Now and Then.
Mary Elizabeth.

introspection said...

I am over from David's POTD. Congratulations.
It's beautiful post. Reminds of the estrangement between my husband and my family. He just wont talk to them no matter what.
I wish he would see that we only have a Single life...!

I am glad you met up with your friend.
Cheers..!!

French Fancy said...

Mary Elizabeth - thanks for popping in. Missing friends is what I do a lot of out here in France and Skype, emails and Facebook do not really compensate.

introspection - hello and thanks. A shame about the estrangement but there are also bits of my family I have fallen out with - nobody too close though, odd cousins here and there - sometimes you just can't got on with relations.

Moannie said...

As someone said elsewhere in this comment box, true friendships have an invisible connection, formed by some mystical chemical that makes it unbreakable. It stretches, sometimes to a thread so fine as gossamer [I love that word] with a bit of elastic in it.

So glad that you got it back, that intimacy.

Cheffie-Mom said...

True friends last a lifetime. Congrats the POTD Award from David's Authorblog. Great job!

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