You don’t appreciate it until you have it.
Tonight I spent five hours with a group of people I’ve known for over twenty years. A couple of them I hadn’t seen in a very long time. We spent our University years together, our young years, our experimental years.
It’s interesting how, no matter how many years have passed, an old intimacy quickly establishes itself. The times we spent laughing together, learning together, screwing and getting drunk together, have bonded us in a way that is irreversible. We meet, we recognise each other, we accept what we see and old times become new again.
The years have aged us. We are all thicker around the middle, wiser around the eyes, greyer around the temples, yet we are all familiar to each other.
‘You haven’t changed a bit!’ we cry unanimously.
But we have. Time and experience has impacted on us all. Our age makes us mutually blind to the changes that are there. We all carry scars. Broken hearts. Broken bodies. In some cases, broken minds. All of which have been mended in some way but never without leaving a mark behind.
Each little habit is so familiar to us it’s almost reassuring to see it. One is late. We know she’s late because she’s looking for a free car park. When she finally arrives we are all on our second drink. ‘Did you find a park?’ we ask. ‘Yes,’ she says. ‘Was it free?’ we ask. ‘Yes,’ she replies and we all laugh knowingly. Some things, in the people we know well, never change. And there is something endlessly comforting about that.
Conversation flows, save for the occasional lull. We slot back into our roles with ease. Each of us knows our place with the other. Familiarity is not faded by years apart, by the tides of life, but draws us together in a dance we all know well. We look at each other in amazement, all of us thinking the same thing, ‘You are so the same. You are as I remember you. I am myself with you.’
The stories of our missed years fill the air. We laugh and laugh with each revelation of the time we have passed without each other, our behaviour still reminiscent of the twenty something’s we once were.
Honesty is the gift of intimacy. ‘Your boobs are bigger than I remember,’ – this from the man to whom I lost my virginity more years ago than I care to remember. ‘I looked up how to make a cross bow with my son on the internet and shot an arrow onto our neighbours roof,’ this from the man who used to scale sheer cliffs dangling on a thread of rope. ‘X and I tried to count the number of men we slept with once and we stopped because it got too embarrassing,’ this from a fellow repeat offender in the search for the ultimate sexual relationship.
Who we are is set upon us from birth. I know this now, not only from observing my daughter, but from observing myself with my long term friends. Nothing can buy the history that defines us as who we are. It can’t be manufactured or invented. It evolves with the time we spend together when we are young. The way we learn to live and love in our youngest adulthood sets us on the path of our future selves. We discovered who we were together, then took that essence out into the work, into our futures and it became cemented in us. When we meet again our lives are all the fuller for the reinforcement of what came naturally when we were young.
Tonight, with a skinful of red wine, I am grateful for the history I’ve shared with these people. I have not been there for all their darkest moments, nor have they been there for mine. But there is an acceptance, a knowing of each other, an intimacy with each other we earned in the years we spent when our passions and bodies were young and strong, that has lasted, will continue to last, all our lives. Without it, I believe I would be a lesser person and the world would be a lesser place.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gillian
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 08:31:47

    Hi Kate
    I liked this one! You haven’t been stifled by the government yet!


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