"Now then, where were we?" Some friends are forever. You don't meet that many of this kind, but the ones you do meet are worth their weight in gold. During last week, I have been thinking about the different types of friendship there are in this world. At least in my world - I might not speak for everybody.
As a little girl, I used to play with the boy across the street. We were the same age and had great fun together. He was rather lively and full of energy - and mischief. I was the reflective and calm one. His mum used to say he always came home in a different mood when he had been playing with me. So she encouraged our friendship. We would play corner shop (using leaves and stones as currency), have secret 'clubs', make jam from non-edible berries (!), run around the block, play hide and seek, build snow huts, cut the bark of branches with our little pen knives, play indians and cowboys - even "The White and Red Rose"...
And so came the Big Day. We were seven that year and - school started. Due to some new, bureaucratic Council rules at the time, it was decided that our street formed a border. As we lived on different sides, this meant I was going to one school and my best friend to another. This was clearly not on. We protested. My friend said he would refuse to go at all unless I could be in his class.
After some telephone calls, made by our dear mums, and some swapping around - we ended up in the same school and the same class. Order was restored.
Enter peer pressure... Even though my friend came to pick me up every single morning for school, we went separate ways once we reached the school gate. He walked over to the boys and I joined the girls. We were still friends, but not "in public". We couldn't have rumours going...
I still find that very sad. Our first experience of sexism, albeit on a very local and personal level.
Another friend was a girl from my class. During the age of 9-12 or so, we were constantly together. Looking back now, I think we were pretty creative in the way we made up new things to do, innovative - and somewhat crazy - plays to play. Once, we told each other to have a "password" every time we met. Just IN CASE we weren't whom we seemed to be. (I guess we had been watching too many spy films.) The password procedure was a quick, yet important introduction to our daily activities. We swore to each other we would continue this in adult life, as well - just in case.
In fact, I met this girl recently - after many, many years of silence. Our first words? Well - the password, of course! She remembered.
Another boy in the class was the cause of my first, real crush. We were ever so serious and he gave me a ring he had made in the wood- and metal work class. His words: "I know it's made of copper. But when I can afford it, I intend to buy you a silver one." Now - that's love...
Later in life, I met other people who have all been very close and always there - in good times as well as bad. Some share my adolescent past, it was all about growing pains, partying, music, politics, "Inter Railing" and - love.
Another dear old friend brought his wife over and came to see me recently, here in England. Great when that happens.
One particular friend shared my passion for Paris. When we weren't actually in Paris, we would be on the phone for ages, each with a map of Paris in front of us and just go for a "pretended walk" together, along the boulevards, Montmartre and the Seine... or meet for a coffee and a "sandwich au jambon", looking at old photos. She has become my ultimate best friend who knows my feelings about just about everything. We can laugh, even without laughing.
All these old friends are still present in my mind, and will be until the end.
Then, there are new friendships. I have never been a great fan of Facebook - although I am on it. But I must admit, Twitter has given me many new friends, many of whom I wouldn't want to be without. Some people think Twitter is about checking out celebs. It couldn't be further from the truth. I follow quite a few people - or 'tweeps', as us Twitterers prefer to say. The strange thing is, you get to know each other's habits, mood swings etc. to the extent that they feel almost equivalent to your old friends.
I find myself thinking: "Oh, he's up already, even if he went to bed so late last night." "She seems as if she needs some support today, something is not quite right." "He's in love." "She needs to get a life."
I have met some of my "tweeps" in real life, too. It is a strange feeling when you meet and you already know quite a lot about each other. You can cut the 'small talk' and just go straight to what it is you want to say.
I would not want to be without any of my friends. Old or new. Friendship is hard to define and - sometimes, it can be mistaken for something else.
I only know that with real friends, you can just take up the conversation where it stopped - even if that means going back 20 years or so in time. Real friends are forever - like bricks in the wall of life.