Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Tangent: Friends, old and new

Me and Rayna - South Africa - December 1984

Being an Aquarian, which is known as the 'friendship' sign of the zodiac, I find it very easy to make friends. Or should I say, I seem to 'collect' people who consider themselves my friends, like others collect stamps or theatre programmes.

Everyone is drawn to my cheery nature, my enthusiasm, my youthfulness and my energy (their words, not mine), as well as my 'always there for you' personality. I am a real chatterbox who loves the odd bit of gossip; okay, okay, I love the whole bit of gossip.

Mostly, I suppose, I rely on the 'when you laugh, the whole world laughs with you, when you cry, you cry alone!' principle, and this makes me a people magnet, specially those who need to cry and cry and cry. They get some sort of internal message that I provide a good 'shoulder' for anyone and everyone.

But as far as considering them my friends, there are very very few.

My 'old' friends are not those old in age, but in longevity of friendship. I met Priscilla (who I've mentioned before) when I was 4 and she 5. They lived in the house behind us and it was 'like' at first sight, and 55 years later, we are still very much 'in like' with each other.

My other dear friend, Rayna, who I met at 20, is still my dear friend after 40 years. I shared a flat with her the year I started teaching and we used to talk and giggle late into the night. We have recently re-connected after many years, and it's the same as back in 1969.

Nowadays I seem to be drawn to the younger generation, making friends with Christine in Kuwait, she at 30, me at nearly 50, and now I have a new 'best' friend, Lorraine, she at 30, me at nearly 60.

I find it exceedingly hard to keep 'floating' acquaintances for too long. They are linked to me usually by rather a weak, common link, e.g. work, or an art course or a short holiday meeting. But, when I do make a true friend, it is for life.

Maybe it's because most of us live continents apart from each other, that we have remained friends.

My definition of a good friend is:
someone who is as interested in me, as I am in her.
someone who says she cares about me and means it.
someone I feel I could ring in the middle of the night if I were in trouble and she would drop everything and come.

So, here's to you, Cilla, Rayna, Chris and Bev! Quality, not quantity!

Me and Rayna - London - December 2006