Life-long friends . . .

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to spend time with people that have known me for more than half my lifetime. Friends like that are a rare breed. People come and go all the time. Some friendships are fleeting, others last a little longer. But not many have been with me constantly for decades.

The special thing about these particular people is that we all began our careers together, fresh from Law School, back in 1989.

And this wasn’t just any old job.

When I walked into that office building on 4th September 1989, in my interview suit and a pair of heels that were already pinching, it represented the pinnacle of my endeavours thus far in life. I had decided to become a solicitor in a dull music lesson when I was 14, had been striving towards that goal ever since and now, finally. I had arrived.

But it wasn’t me standing in the reception of Booth & Co, fresh-faced and nervous, that morning. There were ten of us. A whole team of articled clerks, ready-made mates, conspirators, congratulators, commiserators. I was embarking on this adventure with a gang.

Fast-forward thirty years . . .

and of those original ten pioneers I am still in touch with four and I would consider two as close friends. Our paths through life have diverged over the years – I left the law entirely after all – but we have stayed close.

So, why am I telling you this now?

Well, it made me think about why some people stay with us as we progress through life and others get left by the wayside. It’s not difficult to drift away from friendships. Very often our roads split apart. People move on, get married, (or divorced), change their outlooks or move away and yet, despite all this, we still hang onto those special few.

I reckon it’s because those people know where the bodies are buried!!

I don’t mean that in a sinister way. I don’t have any bodies buried anywhere – honestly! But the friends that have stayed important to me over the years are often there because of our shared experiences of life. And of those, the ones that were with me as a teenager or young adult are the most precious.

For me, it’s all about those shared firsts. First drinks, first loves, first heartbreaks, the first time you really mess something up at work and think that you will be shot on sight. These experiences stay with you as you move through life because the emotional response that you had to them at that time, the first time that you had to deal with that particular issue, remain fresh.

And the people that you confided in, who held your hand, (or your hair!), who talked you down from the edge – those are the ones that I feel a need to hold onto.

They are the friends that understand you, who know how you tick. They can hold you accountable in a way that newer friends might not. They see straight through you if you’re trying to be untrue to yourself. They let you laugh at yourself because they know where your journey started and they know which parts are funny.

And that is why we met up to celebrate thirty years of friendship, older, wiser, definitely greyer but still just as close as we were decades ago.

Because, for me, friends like that are worth their weight in gold.