Sunday, 28 June 2015

Friendly reminder.

I know this post may stir a few pots.
Some pots may bubble over with a sickly yet bitter spitting stew, which will only burn throats and leave ugly smelling smoke. Other pots may finally fill with that perfect blend, a light and lively lift that gets things going, wakes us up and starts things fresh.
Yes, I started this post with cooking pot metaphors. It can only get better.

For years now (and I do mean actual years; a couple of cold Christmases, uneventful Easter times and unsuccessful summers) I have been constructing this post in my constantly baffled, technically damaged yet forever optimistic little mind. 

Effort. I could be utterly arsy and post the dictionary definition of the word 'effort' right here, but I'm not that blogger. I'm not that guy. I mean, I did just sit down in a very action-stations manner and I did just sweep my hair up into a businesslike bun before flipping my laptop open and breathing out sharply when pulling it onto my lap, but that's just how I do, okay? Okay. Now. Let's break it all down.
Effort is something I seem to be forever searching for. I'm not talking love-wise, I've done my fair share of bitching and moaning over the years about not being called back or being left in bed alone the morning after (you'll notice no complaining in that respect has happened over the past eighteen months, yippee for me!), no this is about friendship. Making the required effort in a friendship.
Once again, no terribly cliché blogger moves here. No online definitions. Maybe just a few classic examples of making an effort in a friendship. A guide maybe, to those wondering what I mean by 'effort'. Here are some Effort Examples...

I blogged delightedly about this little outpouring of effort when it happened, unfortunately but not unintentionally sending a message to my lazy alleged lady-besties at the time; one of my main mates from uni who I met in my first year, while drunk obviously, had come all the way from Poole to super-South Sussex on the train to see little old me for a few days. That's four hours on the train, and nearly fifty quid for the ticket. To sleep on a camp bed on my bedroom floor and just hang out with me around the shops and in pubs for a few days. That's effort. 

A perfect example occurred just as I reached my peak while writing this post - as in, just as I collapsed after writing the fifth paragraph, copying and pasting a little, and refreshing the preview page... My darling colleague (the one called Misty for no reason whatsoever) suddenly lights up my phone with a FaceTime call. We then chat for an hour or so, and I realise how much I needed this nice little impromptu giggly love-sharing session. 

One of my dearest friends who I may mention far too much -- but c'mon, she rocks and we have the best story about how we met -- she came to my Grandma's funeral (and the gathering afterwards, with the very chatty older gents and questionable buffet dinner) for Heaven's sake! Literally, for Heaven's sake. My Grandma would have hugged her and got two lines of coral lippy on her cheek (my friend's angelic mama, too!) for always being there for me at the worst times. For sitting with me and drinking orange juice out of wine glasses at our little table and cheerfully chatting with the aforementioned chatty folk. 

Last year when I was staggering through my first bout of post-op recovery (thinking foolishly that it would also be the last) one of my favourite humans from uni, who must be the sassiest and most down-to-earth yet purely angelic individual, decided to visit me at home, as in home-home, home town home, y'know? Which was a big deal, as she drove to us all the way from the Reading area. She sat with my mama and I in the garden, we all tucked into a picnic lunch, and she painted my nails the happiest yellow. I couldn't help but feel we should be taking her out and seeing the sights of the town (the park, the Abbey and maybe one not-too-appalling pub) if she drove all this way -- but no, we were all happy to just sit in the sunshine and have a chat about this and that. 

Okay, I've done enough terribly specific praising and butt-kissing now, so I'll add in some easy tips to be a top notch friend. At least, by my standards -- which are actually rather tame, I mean I once embraced a boy as a bestie when he sent me semi-reliable links to watch the latest series of Scandal online, this of course being before I embraced Netflix... 
Right, here we go. Handy hints for tip-top friendships. Friend Tips! 

1. If you live right near a friend, maybe take some time to knock on the door as you go past. Not every day maybe, don't be a nuisance -- but every now and again maybe, if you think they'll be in and up for a natter. This may only be the case at uni for some; when living in the halls or when we'd all moved to the ex-council estate which may as well have been renamed 'Student Estate', I'd always knock on a friend's door or have others meet me as they walked past mine when we were all on our way to lectures in the morning or training in the evening. The thing was, we'd just about work out our friends' schedules and when the best times were to knock, then the semester would end and timings would change for everyone... 
My grandparents would wave to their neighbours from the garden, or stop in next door for a cuppa now and again. I have two lovely friends across the road and round the corner from me, and we've knocked for one another a few times over the past twenty years. Well, maybe at the beginning of these two decades our mums would knock as we were too short to reach even the letterbox, but still. 

2. Texting back. Or even sometimes, and I am so sorry this can be the case at times, texting me first. Recently I haven't been texting much, or blogging, because text on a bright screen hurts my eyes in my damaged head a little too much. Normally I am a texting and social-networking freak and fiend. Just ask any boss I've ever had who cannot get me to put my phone away while on shift...
Texting is, I'm afraid to say, a very important part of maintaining a friendship. I can tell who my nearest and dearest are simply by looking back over my iMessage inbox, my Facey B conversations, or my latest Whatsapps. They're all there. And for the first time maybe ever, I'm actually not holding out for the ones who never message until the madness in their day-to-day life has 'blown over' and they're 'able' to talk to me again. A text takes two minutes. Looking at my inbox, in fact, on average I write four texts within the same minute (*blows smoke off fingers*). I get that not many people are as quick on the touch screen as I am, but there's almost always time to send a text. You can send a text while on the toilet, for goodness' sake. Don't you shake your head, everyone does it... 


3. Snapchat -- wait, stay with me! I was doubtful at first, too. However, I have a huge group of friends who are scattered all across the country, some of whom I haven't seen since I graduation. These friends are all living their lives; travelling here there and everywhere, diving into the professional world, having lazy days off or hitting the gym, etc... I get to see all this, even if only for a few seconds while my thumb is pressed on my phone screen. I get a view out to sea from the sandy shore, I see the office and the many cups of coffee required to make deadlines for the boss, I almost taste the pre-workout snacks or creative concoctions behind the bar (the latest being well-seasoned super-snappers L&D, who made whiskey ice lollies and now they are all I can think about). I see what my friends are up to and I'm still kept in their loops! I get to converse with them via silly selfies, so we're basically sitting next to each other right?!

4. Coffee dates are miraculous. These days when we don't pop round one another's houses for a play-date as we once did, or we're not pre-drinking and doing make-up for one another before venturing out to that one bar/club type place, coffee dates are a perfect safe option. Even before I drank coffee I'd go out to Costa (before I knew better, obviously) to meet with friends and we'd both have a large hot choc and I'd refer to it as a 'coffee date'. I learned early. These days I help out with hundreds of coffee dates per day, and they always make me so happy. I see friends catching up or the odd casual date occurring, and it's perfect. I cannot recommend coffee dates enough -- in fact I adore them so, I wrote a blog post about them for the lovely 'Oh No, Not Another Blogger' *puts plugs away*. 


5. Offer to drive. This is the pettiest pickiest problem, but it is so relevant in some cases. Since passing my driving test at seventeen, I find that my popularity sky-rockets when I offer to drive. If a few of us are sitting around feeling a bit lethargic (and more often hungover), we might decide we need a specific snack from the supermarket up the road. We'll all discuss this snack or beverage we are after oh-so longingly for some time, before I finally say 'well, I can drive us up the road...'
For a couple of years while at college I'd go out on the town with friends, happily have just the one Jacky D and then five hours later drive everyone home, dropping people off en route. I'd go to pick friends up 'just for a drive'. I'd even pick those friends up and bring them back to my house just to hang out. I'd also drive friends home from college when their home was a good twenty minutes out of the way. Also, I've never accepted petrol money donations, and I say that when I've only had it offered to me once by a friend's boyf.
Admittedly, some of these friends could not drive and only a few were learning, but then there were some who just wouldn't offer up their cars for supermarket runs or aimless adventures. I found last year when I had surrendered my licence due to my operation, a few friends faded away because I was of no use to them, and some just could not get the bus to meet up although I never minded getting a lift or a train to them. 


6. Send parcels of love. I am so guilty of this one; I hardly ever actually post a card or package for a friend's special occasion, in fact recently I'm forgetting even to pop a card through a door because I live right near a friend who's celebrating a birthday! I always was on top form posting those tiny Christmas cards you get for everyone when at school, because I'd carry them in my school bag -- they took up more room than my textbooks -- and give them out to each recipient as I saw them. I'd then apologise when I gave one to a friend and forgot the friend standing right next to them, so I'd then go home and add a card for that person to the pile for the following day. It was a full-time occupation. But now, with friends scattered every which way and only Snapchat able to bridge the distance, I just have no motivation to send things in the mail. That changes now! I've realised how much I love receiving cute cards and thoughtful parcels, and would love to make those happy feelings happen for others. *throws envelopes in the air and twirls* 

So actually on that last little tip I found something I need to work on when it comes to putting in the effort -- nobody is perfect, I'm afraid. No friend will tick every box all the time and make more effort than you ever expected possible every single day.
In actuality, it's the friends who tick zero boxes that you'll pick up on after a long while -- and unless by some miracle they read this post, it hits them smack between the eyes and they sit back in their chairs and make a solemn vow to the universe that they will change their ways... Then you have to let them go. Don't make excuses for them; don't keep on hoping for the coffee date that they'll suggest and arrange with you by text, or the care package they'll send to your house 'just because', or the time any day now when they'll drive by in their own vehicle and knock on your door. Those things 
won't happen any time soon, and it's time to, well, stop spending time on them. Make room for your more mutually dedicated friendships! The relief of letting the less bothered ones go is so unexpectedly massive and magical. 
Or, okay, if you're less cynical and fed up as me, give the lazy absent friends one more chance. One date they have to arrange themselves maybe, or if you have a family occasion coming up, see if they come along for support or to wish everyone well. See if they bring you a card. As for me, I'll be sharing this blog post on social media and seeing if the friends I'm referring to actually read it. I know I know, I'm just wicked sometimes. Best of luck - and I genuinely hope your friends prove me wrong!


3 comments

  1. You are such a good writer, your words are so effortless and beautiful to read!! Besides the message of the blogpost that I absolutely agree with, I totally envy your eloquence :-)

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    1. Hey you utter angel! Thank you so much, you've made my week! I highly doubt I'm all that great - I've checked out your blog and it's so beyond awesome! I cannot imagine being that wise or expressive. You now have a new Leo follower, sweetpea xoxo

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    2. Oh my god thank you so much !!! And you put me on top of your favorite blogs widget!!! That is incredible I feel so honored :-) (i love leos btw)

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