In the past few years I’ve become very close to my daughter. We’ve become good friends. I know this is not unusual. Besides, she is my only daughter and as you know we live in the middle of nowhere, where making and retaining friends isn’t the easiest task in the world. (I know I go on about where we live, but as the nights draw in I’m getting increasingly fretful about the prospect of lonely nights spent in this rambling old house in the middle of rolling, deserted fields). So when I knew she was leaving home, I decided to make a real effort to find new local female friends. But, since I’m very bad at being sociable, this hasn’t been an easy task.
Plus I think I’m scared of women.
I have friends, several lovely women, some of whom I’ve known since we were at school together, but most of them live either in a different country (Finland) or somewhere else in the UK. ‘Haven’t you made any local friends over the 15 years you’ve lived in the country?’ I hear you shout. Well yes, I did have a very good friend once. And she’s the reason I’m afraid of women now.
We met when our sons were nine or ten. They were at the same school and we lived a few villages apart. We hit it off almost as soon as we met. She was vibrant, sexy, loud and funny. Everything all the other English women I’d met since I moved to Britain weren’t. She didn’t care what she said to whom, she wasn’t demure, she never compromised, she was as far from a delicate English rose you could get. And we shared a passion for shopping, particularly designer fashion.
She introduced me to New York, a city which I still remember fondly and always want to return to. Our trips to NYC became legendary, I could write a novel just about them. We took full advantage of the low Dollar rate of the early Noughties and stayed in the best hotels, ate in the best restaurants, went to the most exclusive clubs. We were Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda all rolled into one (or into the two of us). We were best friends for nearly five years.
But something happened. At the root of all the shopping and partying there was an underlying unhappiness in both of our personal lives and we reacted in very different ways to it. Suddenly she wanted us to do everything together. It seemed I couldn’t move without letting her know about it first. And she became aggressive and hostile for silly things; if I couldn’t meet her of an evening out or go to the gym with her. We had fights, real fights. The first time it happened we laughed afterwards and were truly puzzled how a couple of forty-year-olds could act like a couple of fourteen-year-olds. But then the fights continued and became more acrimonious and serious. I was trying to work on my marriage while at the same time being pulled to pieces by my so called friend. Even now, years later, when I think of the things she said to me I get upset all over again. And scared. Afraid to let myself care so much about a friend again for it hurt so much.
So now whenever I meet a nice new person, a potential good friend, I back off as soon as it gets more personal. I don’t want to get hurt again. The flip side is, now my daughter has gone, there’s no-one I can do silly girly things with, like gossip about the articles and fashion on Grazia, drool over the latest arrivals at Net-a-Porter, get too drunk at a party (OK, I DID NOT do that with my daughter BUT do frequently do it with another great good friend who shall remain anonymous – you know who you are) , meet for a quick coffee and moan about life, go shopping and overspend. Or go for lunch and end up making it for dinner and a late night out too (see above!).
My London friends keep telling me to move up and then I’ll be able to see them more often. But alas, the housing market is stupidly contriving against us once again. Besides, lonely and deserted as this place is, it’s still a unique house in a unique location which I’m not quite ready to give up yet. And I’m not sure I am ready for London traffic and noise after the peace and quiet of our current location.
So, lucky me, I found blogging! And today, my ether friends, I really need that cup of coffee and moan about life in general. Here’s my list.
1. It’s bloody raining. It’s quite warm outside but the house inside is freezing. How does that work?
2. I’ve finally after three weeks managed to get the windscreen man to call and replace a cracked one in my car and he turns up with one for the wrong model. I’ve told him to go ahead and fit it anyway and hope an extra antenna doesn’t affect the eventual re-sell price. I couldn’t face sending him back the mile and half country lane (plus some) to go and get another. Besides, it would mean another day waiting around for him.
3. I should be getting on with tax returns, but cannot face the most boring task of the year quite yet.
4. When I came back from Rome I decided to cut down on drinking and keep off the SB at least during week days. But, with son here to ‘look after me’ while his father is away on business (as he often is these days), it’s felt like I’m still on holiday and have only managed one measly wine-free day in two weeks.
5. Doctor confirmed today I have a rare virus which is attacking my immune system. Not dangerous, but just uncomfortable. That’s alright then!
Huh, huh, I feel so much better now…