Thursday, 10 June 2010
When I realised I was going to be away from the internet for almost a month, and started thinking about how to keep my blog going in my absence, it occurred to me that this would be a perfect time to feature some guest posts from my readers. So, over the next couple of weeks, you'll see my posts interspersed with a few words from my guests. I hope you'll make them all welcome.
First up is Kirsty, who's working on her first art installation, and blogs about her progress over at Night of a Thousand Cranes. I didn't meet her through blogging, though - I've known her since I was eleven (before I'd even heard of the internet!). I'd tell you all about our friendship, but she's done it more eloquently than I ever could. Suffice it to say that Kirsty was always the girl with the big dreams - she was telling me that she was going to be a writer back when I was letting careers advisors tell me that it wasn't a valid career path. Her dreams may have changed shape a little, but she's still busy making them come true.
by Kirsty of Night of a Thousand Cranes
While Rachel is off gallivanting, I offered to write a guest post. I said I'd write about origami, as that's what my blog is about, maybe a quick tutorial or whatever. Then when I sat down to write this, I couldn't think of what to say; nothing I wrote flowed properly, and all I kept thinking was that it wasn't good enough for Rachel's blog, which I hugely admire. So, I stopped trying to force it, and completely changed my thinking. Now, this post is a love letter - to friendship.
You see, me and Rachel have been friends for years. Since we were eleven. We met at school, though I can't remember how, and held each other up through crushes (in one memorable case, on the same guy), tantrums (mostly me), crises of confidence, arguments (again, mostly down to me) and all the other "life-changing" events you have when you're a teenager. Most of my high school memories contain Rachel - many a time she read my (bad) poetry, or I slept over at her house, or we hid under the desk in class together (we did this more than was probably healthy). Passing notes wasn't just a way of communication; it was a way of life, and I still have a whole boxful of them. Here's an actual page from my 'homework diary' (that was never used to record homework!) – see if you can spot Rachel's comments:
We had fun in that way where at the time you just can't stop laughing, but you look back and can't understand why. I could tell you a thousand stories about throwing ink cartridges at each other, l'escargot club, how our German teacher was Superman... but they wouldn't interest you. They've probably brought a smile to Rachel's face though.
It's funny how friendships are formed and maintained. I often think of people I was 'best friends' with at a particular point in my life, but that I haven't seen for years. How the person you ate lunch with every day at work disappeared off your radar the minute you handed in your resignation; the flatmate at university packed up as neatly as your books when you graduate. How at the time, they were the one thing that got you through the day, and now days go by without you thinking of them at all. How nearly every memory I have has a person imprinted on it, and how many of them I haven't spoken to in years.
We grew up. Rachel went off to a different college to be clever and smart and bloom into the person you know and love, and I went off to do performing arts and become even more angsty and obsessed with boys. We tried to keep in touch, but letters dwindled to Christmas cards to…well, nothing. We drifted apart.
Sometimes, I imagine what my "past friends" are doing now. I think of them living the lives we said we would lead. A parallel world where nothing has ever got in the way, where everyone's dreams came true. Where the pictures of my 30th birthday will show the same people as at my 13th.
Through a mutual friend who'd managed to keep track of us both, we got back in touch and Christmas cards were exchanged and plans mooted but never firmed up. Then I found Rachel's blog. I can't remember how, but somehow, without her expressly saying "read my blog," I wandered across it, read a little bit, then read a little bit more. I marvelled at how my friend, who campaigned for girls to wear trousers at school, now loved pink and knitting; I boggled when she dropped in anecdotes about how she used to make waffles for a living or had written plays. The girl I knew, who translated Eurovision entries for us for fun (she always was the clever one), had a wonderful life, and above all else, was happy. It wasn't anything like what we'd thought it would be, but then again, neither is mine (I never did make it on Broadway). I was so proud, and so thankful that I counted her as a friend.
I'm sorry for the years we lost touch (not least because I missed out on waffles), but I am glad we found each other again. Rachel's been super supportive of my blog, and what I'm working on in my life right now, and I'm always interested in what's going on in hers. We haven't seen each other since we were 16, but we have firm plans for October, if not before.
So to finish this post, I'm asking you to think of your friends. To think of the ones that you treasure now, and the ones that you treasured once upon a time. If you can get in touch, try to take ten minutes out of your day to make that call or write that email. Think of the friends that you loved and lost. Imagine them, in that happy world, where everyone gets their dreams, and everything's like you thought it would be when you were eleven. Because every time I think of my friends, Rachel ranks up there high. They say you never forget your first love – and that includes your friends.
I'm in Greenland! I promise to catch up on comments, and come round and visit you all, just as soon as I get home. I'll try to keep in touch via Twitter and my Facebook page.