Friend and Land: Quiet Nostalgia

Writing from London.

Pre-pubescent me read far too many Jaqueline Wilson novels about imaginary types of magical friendship in which best friends ran away together and became sisters and told each other their deepest secrets. I’m not sure if it’s the pseudo-Victorian, horrifyingly awkward and seemingly-superficial-but-genuinely-nice nature of British people that meant I never really found (nor really properly sought) this type of friendship in while living in England.

My friends here, in all their splendidly dorky Britishness are irreplaceable; to come home to them is paramount to my happiness and my feelings of security as the free-wandering Sagittarian spirit that I am. To always know that beyond the Atlantic Ocean lies a (relatively) unchanging gaggle of high school companions, doing a myriad of great and brilliant things, yet always returning to this dreary suburb for no other reason than love, is heart-warming at the least.

For a while I was confused by these friendships – we were close but not inseparable, not do-everything-together, not spend-hours-on-the-phone and not lovey-dovey-carving-names-into-trees types. We were more (and still are) laugh-’til-it-hurts, binge-drink-on-weekdays, camp-in-the-garden type friends.

It’s only now, five years since moving away from this small and rather inconsequential part of the larger bustling metropolis, that I realise the beauty and rarity of what we have and what these friends mean to me. So many international students that I’ve met have travelled abroad at the sacrifice of their friends back home. When they go home, they have family but no friends to return to. Without friends, those who’ve known me for 10 years or more to come home to, this city would hold so much less value. The streets would seem bare and unfamiliar and old hang-out spots would draw a sad nostalgia instead of a warm familiarity.

Today, I’m so happy that I have unlearned my childish expectations of friendship and broadened by understanding of what life-long companionship can mean. Some friends are not meant to hang off of your every word and be at your side in every event and be the holders of your darkest secrets. Some friends are meant to be quiet pieces of your past; sweet reminders of why you are you. They are meant to be little interjections into your routine, small hellos to counter every hard goodbye, spells of immaturity at the end of adolescence and friendly eyes over a pint of beer.

Friends don’t owe you their entire selves, just a piece to help your heart get by.


Friends, circa 2009



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