This week I was asked to go and see a new production of a play with my friend. I have noticed that recently I struggle to find the time to fit in good time with my friends and I know I’m mostly to blame for it. As we get older, people are harder to draw together and track down. I feel like I’m still in the loop because of the constant feed of their social media but it just isn’t the same. At a friend’s party in February I tried to do the catching up thing with an old friend and we both realised, over a couple of gins, that we already knew the trials and tribulations of each others lives because of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and our blogs keeping us in touch. FaceTime can’t compare to face time.
We met in the pub, the best meeting places for friends, particularly when one is stuck in traffic and the other is me and has a healthy supply of literature and lager to hand. It was then he confessed the play wasn’t on until ten. Bloody thespians, we both had work the following morning. What was this 10pm nonsense. The arts should be confined and curfewed to meet my demands.
We eloped to a nearby Italian restaurant and for the next two hours we caught up on everything that had been happening in the couple of months since we had last seen each other. It is crazy to think how much my life has changed in the last three months. How I have gone from questioning what I was doing and who I was doing it for to feeling in the best mental spot I’ve been in this year at least. I’ve written at length in the past about my history of anxiety and depression and to be in a moment of clarity like the one I am enjoying at the moment is blissful.
We sat and we talked and we laughed. We tried to work out whether the waitress assumed we were a couple. We both ordered tiramisu and coffee and I realised that it didn’t matter how long the time in between us seeing each other was, we were still able to jump in on the friendship. I’m fortunate to have that capacity with a number of my friends. What was there stays there.
After the play, which was excellent, and watched from behind a bassist, we joined two of the cast for a quick drink and then high-tailed it out of Islington for the long drive home. This was where things became interesting. There is something beautiful about two friends with a common destination (home) bearing down upon it in a great car. Train journeys are best railed solo. Planes need entertainment but you sit me in a car with a good friend and just watch us fly. It explains why there are so many great stories which take place between buddies on road trips – The Puffy Chair, Little Miss Sunshine, Easy Rider, National Lampoon’s Vacation, The Stamp Collective.
With nothing but the strobing streetlights, the long A13 ahead of us and one another we started to tell stories. They would meander and overlap and we would get caught up on stupid details and then come back to the crux of the matter but when we pulled up outside my flat I wasn’t ready for it to end, even if I did have to be up for work in around four hours. There’s a lot to be gained from putting yourself in close proximity to someone you truly enjoy the company of. I’ve done what I can to preserve to anonymity of our conversational content because we would both be for the high jump but I’m glad I got to be that particular navigator.