Thinking Your Way Through a Labyrinth of Contemporary Issues
It was 2008 – prior to the social media world, I and my friend were at the Wendy house in Leeds (UK) this was essentially a gothic nightclub. Me and my friend who we shall refer to as S were having the time of our lives. Sure he had his girlfriend with him and other people were there but there was such a mystic and magic to our friendship that it felt that nobody else was in the room. We regularly saw each other in our retail jobs where we first became friends. The friendship was not dependent on anything. The friendship was not based on point scoring or condition based – on seeing each other outside of work all the time. It simply was a friendship that was just pure. Eventually around 2012 we lost contact for quite a while, S left the job that we were doing and we went our own separate ways. It was purely circumstance – getting a ‘proper job’ was essential for both of us. We had both been underachieving for quite some time. He started living with his then- girlfriend and we just lost contact.
A few years later I would get a friend request on facebook from my long lost friend. We reconnected and things went well. He told me of this difficult situation he had had with his ex-girlfriend and I told him my story about when I was out of work for such a long time. We soon arranged to meet up, we had nights out together again and we were going to concerts and he did manage to let me meet his new girlfriend and things were never better. One year I confess I was guilty of letting the friendship slide, I had several arguments with my girlfriend which was due to the nature of where I would meet my friend – around town with all the nightclubs and so forth. The imagination does understandably run riot for some people and it certainly did for my girlfriend. However in mitigation, this particular year that I had not met up with my friend, I had changed my jobs and I had to do intense training for my new job. I also had a bereavement which posed its own challenges. Nevertheless there were opportunities later in the year to meet up. Though as mentioned the arguing with my girlfriend about going in to town with all the nightlife meant that we would not get the opportunity to meet up for quite some time. After relentless persuasion – that everything was going to be okay by myself going into town at night-time to meet my friend and myself also taking a stance about me not meeting up with my friend – my girlfriend eventually relented.
The opportunity to meet up was there. My friend had been having a busy time as well. He moved into a house with his girlfriend and this was something that I was genuinely pleased about. I made myself available for a Friday night and things were looking good. We were having our first meet up in nearly a year. I was given the opportunity to stay at his house. I drove to his house on the Friday with much anticipation for how our Friday night would go, what sort of nightclubs would we find, what could we reminisce about and what we could drink whilst we were out. I had already met S’s new girlfriend on two occasions. I was pleased to meet her and to this day I am glad that he has found someone to his liking who I believe it well matched to S.
I got to the house and was very impressed with it; it succeeded expectation I was grateful to be given the opportunity to stay with my friend and his girlfriend (in different rooms fortunately). We had the inevitable conversations. I was the moaning swine that I can be. My friend has always been aware this is a caveat of my personality. We did nonetheless have a good laugh together and S’s girlfriend made me feel very welcome by cooking some food for me and S before we went out. A conspiracy would later emerge from this though. The conspiracy was that my girlfriend believed (that having told her about the night) was that S’s girlfriend made me and S some garlic bread before we went out as it can have a repugnant smell and thus the opposite sex would find us repulsive. Looking back I find this pretty funny either way, as there was never any intention from either my friend or myself to stray from our partners while we were out. But going on this conspiracy – we would not have had much chance anyway as we had several slices each of garlic bread not realising the odour that would emit from this. While speaking to my friend later that night I brought up that we had previously discussed that we would have our meetings once a month without fail, regardless of whether it was just for a meet up in a coffee shop, another night in town or anything else. When I mentioned that this is what we must do, my friend S was backtracking saying that he won’t be able to meet once a month. I understand that the pressures of being a new home owner and wanting to potentially start a family may change your outlook but I felt let down. As mentioned I had been guilty of letting the friendship slide over the last year but we did both say before we met each other on this particular Friday that we would make sure we had a monthly meeting. Twelve times a year is not a lot when you consider that there are 365 days in the year.
I understand that there may be a month where such a circumstance presents itself and that it is simply impossible to have a meet up but the idea being there, that we would meet once a month was good and in my view how it should have been. There was a genuine sense that my friends new life was going in an entirely opposite direction to me. Many will point out while reading this that ‘growing up’ is what happens and as a consequence a friend may not see you that much again. I will be honest now, I am looking at this through the lenses of someone who has had their own property before but is nonetheless now dividing my time between my girlfriends and my home base (parents for clarity). Perhaps if I were to be in his position I would probably be thinking the same but I disagree with this hypothesis. Through trial and error in relationships I have realised that for quite some time -losing one’s identity can send you down a chasm of despair. I gave up my identity to spend all my time with my ex-girlfriend. The relationship ended and I ended up in a void that took me a long-time to get myself out of. This was all down to giving up on all the things that made me who I was such as my friends. My friend also realised this having been through a similar situation.
I confess I did mention some perhaps controversial issues in front of my friend S’s girlfriend and while she seemed to partially agree with me there was a sense that I was this person who had an entirely different outlook to this couple. For myself no topic is ever off limits and perhaps this is why I can offend people. My friend S who is normally so agreeable with me found himself on one particular topic struggling to agree with me that much. There were no arguments, just perhaps a slight unease in the way that I spoke about a particular subject. When speaking with my girlfriend the following day she was firmly in the belief that what I was saying was right, however she did say that it could cause offence to other people as the topic was regarding relationships.
Going back out the night in question we were eventually dropped off into town, stinking of garlic bread- unbeknown to us. We went in the first club we saw and we had some discussion but it did not feel anywhere near the level of conversation we would normally have together. In previous meet-ups when we met up we would put the world to rights and though we had different views on subjects we always had this way of seeing each other’s viewpoints. The talk and discussion that I thought was going to be so in depth – having not seen each other for a year, just did not happen. The night that had started out so promising just did materialise.
S soon decided to get a taxi booked and we were on our way home. We went back to his new house that night and I sat on my made-up bed on the sofa pondering about this friendship. There had prior to this always been a wealth of suggestion that we would be able to maintain our friendship and it would be good again and we would never lose the vision we had of remaining friends in a way that was worthwhile. People may say that any true friendship does not have to rely on seeing each other but I believe this is all based on context. My friend has never lived nearer to myself than he does now, albeit not within walking distance. We are not in the same job anymore so we don’t see each other this way. The combination of feeling that my friend was no longer as interested in the friendship anymore along with the way we just seemed to be going in different directions made me think that this is the beginning of the end.
I feel that my friendship with S has changed in such a way that I find it difficult for us to be engaged on the level we were before. Times change and people can change. Yet I feel on this occasion that all we had discussed about putting ourselves first and not letting the friendship fall by the wayside were now wasted. The friendship that started in 2007 feels like it has run its course. And while I find this sad, I feel that we have to make the most of our lives and that accepting that things won’t be the same again is easier rather than trying to regain past glories. Moving forward has to be the only sensible decision.
Oliver W (2019)