Not that kind of friend

As kids, we had to move countries thanks to the child-friendly pastime called war. I lost a few friends while the adults who lead the world squabbled like adults who lead the world. Many other friendships were lost in translation, literally; it wasn’t easy to learn 3 new languages to keep up with the other 7 year olds in India.

While teen years are the most confusing to most people, I was at my cockiest best. I was making friends while walking from the water cooler to the library. Back then, conversation came as easily and frequently as awkward silences do these days. I could write a whole post on my school friends! Oh wait, I did.

If the number of ‘Miss Friendly” sashes I had earned by the end of my school years was anything to go by, life was going to be a breeze.

And as promised by my tone, it was not a breeze.

The rules of adulting were chucked at my face in quick, migraine-inducing succession.

Once you cross 18, tomboys are called butch. There’s no such thing as just texting. There’s feminine and there’s masculine, and you need to choose – now. You’re either politely submissive or an ice queen bitch; you need to choose – now. Pick a clique. You will be judged, adored and despised for reasons beyond your control. Just don’t be a bitch about it.

Fark me, these are the rules against which all of us get measured. Lucky for me, I stopped giving a shit.

Needless to say, I haven’t been winning any “Miss Friendly” sashes in the last decade.

Grown-up-ness also marks the switch from multiple best friends to multiple friend circles. Work friends, family friends, husband’s friends, old friends, mama friends and miscellaneous.

Even within these circles, I sometimes find myself trying to find my self. My fellow former refugees and move-ers may correlate. We don’t have much in common with a large group, our interests are as flaky as our thoughts, and we intermittently drift far, far away. When the friends are great, the place isn’t. When the place is good, you miss the friends. It’s not that we’re dissatisfied, we just want everything. Is that too much to ask for? We honestly want to belong, but seem to have misplaced the ability, somewhere in transit.

Fitting in was never easy for me. Perhaps I wasn’t trying hard enough – or trying at all. It’s not that I didn’t want to; there were several times in my life where fitting in would’ve made life much easier. Instead I invariably, and inevitably, turn into a bumbling, awkward and confused mess with incomplete sentences dribbling out of my gaping mouth.

Luckily, I always find a fabulous bunch of misfits. Our rough edges, broken corners and missing parts make us a noisy bag of spares.

I don’t meet them regularly, don’t share my deepest darkest secrets and don’t know their families like my own. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy their company like a dehydrated person enjoys an ice-cold Slurpee on a wildly hot day. (Yes, it needed all those adjectives.)

Our complete lack of rules and structures of traditional friendships means that no one feels let down or left out. We discuss to great depths our current joys and trials. We celebrate each other’s lives without reflecting on what it means for the future or past. We laugh, cry and over-share. We drink, dance, and then return to our best friends and soul mates and childhood friends.

Every day I miss these ridiculously kind and funny people I call my friends. The very thought of them makes me feel pure happiness of having known them.

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Then, there are people you can’t call friends, because as heart-warming as the word is, it isn’t big enough to carry your love for them.

No matter how distant I feel in a room full of friends, I know I’ll never be lonely because I have 2 of these people. My soul people. I’m the best version of me, when I’m with these beautiful humans.

I must confess something at this point. While this post is an xoxo to the fantastic friends I’ve made over the years, I do have an ulterior motive. This post is also an ad for new friends, of the face-to-face variety. (I have a head-start with my school friends; but we bonded as 17 year olds, and are too busy reminiscing. Leave us alone.)

So here I stand. 32 years old, and starting all over again. I’m calling all misfits and crazies. Old friends and new. I’m open to coffee, frozen yoghurt or all-you-can-eat buffets. I’ll talk, listen, laugh and cry – not necessarily at the appropriate times, but I’ll work on that. I won’t break any promises if you don’t make any. It’ll be a breeze, I promise!

I want my “Miss Friendly” sash back, goddamnit.

Re-encounter of the girly kind

At my first job, I was treated like a child. They couldn’t fathom that I had only just passed out of school 4 years prior. Now I’m the one who reels in horror when people say Barney Stinson put Neil Patrick Harris on the map.

Today I met few of my fellow old-timers, and we were young ‘uns once again. They say boys will be boys, but I reckon that’s limited to video games and childish behaviour (not being offensive, but that’s when you hear it being said by the above-mentioned boys). But girls will be girls in many more ways. It should totally be a thing. Some of us at today’s micro-reunion were married, some mums and some working. Conversation oscillated between updates, adventures, you-won’t-believe-it and remember-that-time. From this torrent of information, one thing was clear – among us were stay-at-home mums, doctors, bankers, writers, engineers and travellers – among us were 30 year olds, going on 16.

Life has changed us in different ways: broken hearts and overflowing hearts, well-travelled and well-settled, weight of the world and weight on the hips. But a few minutes of opening up and you see the young girl who shared her packet of chips and a joke with you during class.

Whether it was 5, 10 or 15 years since we all met, it took us roughly 2.6 seconds to burst into loud, unbridled laughter and no-holds-barred conversation. We were freely sharing stories that a new friend would have to pry out of our private hearts. We were reminiscing, repenting and losing our minds at how cool/absurd/silly we used to be, and very quickly realised that we were still cool/absurd/silly.

We went to an all-girls school and loved the bonding and freedom that came from it. It was like having a sister you didn’t have to share your space with. Like a sister who wouldn’t tell on you. Like a sister you didn’t have to see all day long. My real sisters and I share a very powerful bond today, but back then I would’ve gladly traded them in for my friends. There were around 120 of us in our year, and we either knew one another or knew of one another. Maybe we didn’t get the memo that girls were catty and bitchy and back-stabby (Yyyep. Just making words up as I go). Not that it was all giggles and luv-u-4ever’s, but even the darkest of animosities was generally short-lived.

But we did miss having boys around and so crushes were cherished and shared. Some of them came up in conversation today. We died of embarrassment and then we died of laughter.

Spending 4 hours catching up with the girls today reminded me of the 8 years spent getting to know them. Most of my best friends weren’t there today, but that’s the magic of reunions – you see a face that sparks a memory, and just like that, everyone’s there. These lovely ladies helped shape me into the girl I was 15 years ago and the (girl-acting-like-a-) woman I am today. I’ve been loved and I’ve been hated; I’ve loved and I’ve hated; And I’d do it all over again.

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