It is said by many that the mark and measure of a true friend is being able to go for months without talking then picking up as if nothing has happened when you do see them. I half buy in to this theory, surely in these days of mass communication it’s not that hard to stay in touch – but at the same time I have many of these friendships myself. Mainly by virtue of having lived in some far flung places and having friends that still live there and also because I really, really, deeply loathe speaking on the phone. My phone is always on silent and nowhere near me. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you. I just don’t want to talk to you on the phone. Let’s get a coffee, let’s DO something. And if that’s not practical due to geography then send me an email. I’m better in email.
You can edit what you say in email. You can embellish events to make them sound interesting, because here’s the thing – when you haven’t spoken to one of your true friends in six months how do you make it sound like you have achieved something in half year? I spoke to a friend of mine the other night. He has a very exciting job. I don’t know exactly what he does but involves a great deal of dashing and daring and living in numerous foreign countries. He also has a love life and is very happy. I have no love life which immediately cuts my conversational material in half and whilst my job is fun and I enjoy it a lot it mainly involves being in an office rather than wrestling tigers whilst holding a bayonet between my teeth.
Now it’s not that you have to hype your life up to gargantuan proportions and I’m sure he didn’t ring up to hang on my every word as I recounted tales of dashing and daring – I’m pretty sure it was more of a catch up. But when your life is reduced to six months of ‘you know, going out and stuff’, it does being to sound like you are sitting home night after night rocking and talking to a special teddy bear friend called Mr Trousers.
Of course the second I got off the phone I remembered I had been away, I had done quite a few things and was actually ticking along quite nicely and there was no need to plunge head first in to the existential crisis I was heading for. However it would have been beyond weird to ring him up and suddenly start listing what I had been doing and doing so would have doubled my allotted phone time for the month (about twenty minutes). Therefore yes there are friendships where you can pick up and carry on and I love those kind of friendships and am grateful for them but you really do need to pick up and carry on and not try and summarise your life so far. Either that or you have to overcome a hatred about talking on the phone.