This song was released in 1965, so I kinda missed it the first time around. In fact, the first time I remember actually listening to it was in 1985. It was a wet, cold Friday and I was visiting a friend and her young baby. She was the first of my friends to have a child – and for quite a long time – the only one.
I was in the middle of a post-grad course and totally at sea trying to put together a manageable thesis proposal. My life revolved around study and partying (probably not in that order), and I think I both pitied and slightly envied her “not having to work” but just being home with a baby – probably reading books and watching tv most of the time. It took another ten years and a child of my own to see how wrong I was about that.
At the time I didn’t realise she had post-natal depression; I’m not even sure she knew it. To me she just seemed a bit dull and disinterested in things I wanted to talk about (like my totally fascinating and complicated love-life). So when I went to visit, I don’t quite know what I expected we’d do, go out for lunch or something I suppose.
But instead we listened to her old records and I appreciated her taste in music. It was probably a good thing we did, because – quite honestly – being the shallow, self-obsessed creature that I was in those days, without that reminder of her cool, I might have given up on the friendship.
I’m glad I didn’t. We’ve been friends for thirty five years now, and although we don’t see each other often, I value her presence in my life. She’s funny, wise, accepts me as I am – and she knows where all the bodies are buried!
In many ways, we’ve continued to live divergent lives. Our socialising pretty much takes the form of meeting for morning coffee every few weeks. Our partners know each other, and we have “done dinner” in the past – but not recently.
We text often and both make an effort to find each other the funniest, most outrageous birthday and christmas cards. I’ve kept some of hers, including a couple that go back to my student days and which live on the pinboard above my desk. Ours in a friendship that has never really known conflict, or even drama. It wasn’t forged in adversity or pain. Somehow, as teenagers we recognised in each other some kindred spirit and that has been enough.
When I started writing this post, I realised that there are no photos of us together. None at all – in 35 years. And that makes this post important to me, because in the future, if my son ever looks through the photographic record of his mother, a piece will be missing. A kind, funny, clever friend whom I care for deeply and who has shared my journey for well over half our lives. I guess I could take a photo of us next time I see her, but I probably won’t. Somehow that feels like it might upset the balance, and I like things the way there are.