A couple of weeks ago I was bumbling along a street in London on my way to a meeting when I heard someone shout my name from behind.
And when I spun around like OH GOD NO WHO HAS SEEN ME IN THIS SWEATY STATE, I laid eyes on someone I love very much.
Someone who I have known for 14 years. Someone who has sat with me and drunk tea in the sunshine when it felt like my heart was breaking. Someone who used to quietly ask me how my bulimia was and if there was anything she could do to help. Someone I have got drunk on the streets of London with, discussed Grey’s Anatomy with and eaten profiterole cakes with.
And yet someone I haven’t seen in nearly two years.
Because, y’see, the thing with growing up is that you leave people behind, regardless of whether you plan to or not.
It’s often not a conscious decision, or something you even pay much attention to at the time. But suddenly you’ll be bumping into each other in the street and hey whaddya know when was the last time we grabbed a wine and had a catch-up?
If you’re really lucky, you get to touch base maybe once or twice a year through Facebook ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY! MISS YOU, LOVE YOU XXX’ messages, or shared Facebook memories that remind you that each other still exist.
But for the most part, life goes on and you exist without one another.
I spent my teenage and early twenty years as part of a hideously large friendship group. A friendship group that was never made to stand the test of adulthood because as soon as we entered the real world and stopped being drawn back to our parents’ homes, we lost the ease of meeting up that made us so close in the first place.
Admittedly, whilst a majority of that friendship group eventually moved to London, I made it harder for myself to stay in touch by moving further afield to Suffolk.
And I miss them. I miss them all.
I miss the nights out that no-one can quite remember. I miss the hangover days watching documentaries and making nachos. I miss the barbecues on the beach and the house parties and the late night drives.
I miss my people.
But I am also aware that those memories and those experiences belong to a different life, and not to the life I live now. That they belong to a life before commitments and a settled relationship and a career.
Without particularly realising I was even doing it, I handpicked the friends from that group who I’d known the longest and made them my into-adulthood-friends. The people I would go above and beyond to see regularly, the people I would text daily and send ugly three-chin selfies and pizza order confirmation screenshots to.
And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The reality of having a lot of friends, is that you spread yourself thin and actually it’s pretty bloody hard to be a good friend.
This way, I get to be there for people. I get to love them harder and appreciate them more than I ever did before. I have a handful of people I would drop everything for, and in return I have a handful of people who would do the same for me.
If twenty-eight-year-old Hannah wanted to be friends with as many people as eighteen-year-old Hannah was, then she’d either have to take up ‘being a friend’ as a full-time job, or she’d have to constantly be letting people down. And I don’t want either of those things.
When I announced my pregnancy a few months back I was completely overwhelmed (and yes OK maybe a teeny eeny bit teary) over how many people came out of the woodwork to congratulate me.
Because although I still care deeply for people who haven’t been a regular part of my life for the best part of a decade, you sometimes forget that they feel the exact same way.
That although you haven’t giggled your way through a McDonald’s Drive Thru whilst talking about boys since the Black Eyed Peas were hip and happening, you still love each other and want the best for each other.
You’re still overcome with emotion when you watch their lives play out over social media. You still get a surge of YAAAAAAAS when they post an engagement ring or tell the world they’re having a baby, you still want to cry for them when life deals them an ugly hand.
That just because they’re not physically in your life anymore doesn’t mean you don’t still care about them the way you once did.
So this is a post dedicated to the people I haven’t seen in too long. To the people who helped shape who I am today. To the people who’ve made me laugh until I cried and to the people who’ve picked me up on bad days, weeks and months.
This is for the boy mates of 2010 posting their wedding albums on Facebook, to the uni friends polishing the diamonds on their ring fingers and to the ex colleagues posting milestone birthday snaps on Instagram.
Just because I don’t see you every day, or even every year, doesn’t mean that I don’t still think you’re absolutely bloody awesome. Here’s to the memories <3