Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Sometimes I feel like I only notice a forward momentum in life through the finding and losing of friends. These movements are the landmarks that are important, and when I look back at the last few years they are things that matter; relationships dissolved or renewed, opportunities found or lost. Sometimes people edge out of view for long periods of time, absences dictated by circumstance or preference. People stand just out of sight. How close are they? Will I turn a corner and encounter them or have they raced faraway? How strong are the threads between us?

Sometimes I really jolt with the feeling of missing people – I miss my cousins, who I don’t see enough. I miss my bandmates Andy and Ali, who I see irregularly and yet with such great enthusiasm when I do that it makes a mockery of how infrequently I talk to them. I miss Pete and I miss the fact that Pete had Sandra and doesn’t any more. I miss Natalia, who is wonderful but is abroad and suddenly out of touch. My friend Sam will shortly head off travelling – I won’t see him for seven months. And Dustin is going further, moving right across the Atlantic. I hardy ever see Michi or Eleanor, and am so bad at staying in touch.

At the same time I make new friends and it makes me either dizzy with excitement or soothed. I like the slowly shifting patterns of friendships, the way that without deliberation Dave has became one of my closest confidants, the way that Ant has become the person me and Andrew walk home with after the quiz, or the first person I discuss recording songs with, or the mystical power of vinyl. Or how a chance encounter with someone whose blog I read suddenly leads to the exchanging of mixtapes and long conversations which I replay enthusiastically in my head afterwards, refreshing my email hoping for a new message.

When you look back at the key moments in life, the arrival or departure of other people in your life is far more important than anything else. The most important things that happened to me in my twenties were, in order, meeting Vic, meeting the friends with whom I formed a band, meeting Sam, meeting Dan, meeting Nat, meeting Dave, breaking up with Vic, staying friends with Vic. All other considerations – jobs, money, health, even creative achievements – really pale into insignificance.

I think I should make a resolution to not let the people who will be leaving my life in the next few years do so permanently.


Stephen Newton said...

This melancholy is a feature of modern life; some argue that pre-industrial revolution, we didn't lose friends in this way. We rarely travelled and lived in the same village for our entire lives, which we and our contemporaries lived in much the same way.

Anonymous said...

a nice post jonathan but there is a friend i think you're forgetting. the one common friend that all your other friends share, and without who we would all be nothing more than strangers passing on the street.

*adopts a m. parkinson style voice*
and here he his, a warm round of applause please for your friend and mine .... beer.

jonathan said...

haha. yes!

Ben said...

Good post.

I like meeting new people but find it really hard to let go of others when you've both clearly moved on - I can't bring myself to delete people's names from my mobile or my email contacts list, even though the chances of me getting in touch with them again are minimal at most. It feels like having to close the file on that part of your life.

As you say, friendships are so often down to circumstance. I've moved around quite a bit in the last two or three years, and each time, as well as meeting new people who've gone on to become good friends, I've seen more of existing friends and got to know them better, which has been great.

Not so long ago I would have found the whole concept of the sort of friendship where you don't speak for months and then meet up and pick up right where you left off as a very strange one - but I can now see there's nothing wrong with that. Someone who at times in the past I've considered my closest friend came up from Portsmouth for the last Bank Holiday weekend after a long period of hardly being in regular contact, and we had a great weekend together - just like old times, as old gits say. Of course, our mutual friend beer had plenty to do with it too...