This Saturday I decided to celebrate my birthday with my friends, going to a Chinese JC and I had found in town. I had an utterly brilliant time – I can’t actually remember a night I’ve enjoyed more, recently. And then I realised why.
It’s because finally I have a group of friends which I’m actually a part of once more. People who, when invited, will cross counties to join me. A group of people who can laugh at me for things about me that only they really know me well enough to say. It struck me during a bizarre conversation we were having about which of us will be married first/last, and prospective children/divorces. Unanimously they agreed I’d be the first to be married but one of the last to have children – and that I’d almost certainly have a divorce at some point. The point being even I wouldn’t make that kind of a guess about myself but when I asked them to explain the reasons they came up with tallied exactly with what I’m like. And with them, I can make those kinds of jokes about any other member of that group.
These are people who know how to get me out of a black mood, when to leave me in one, and when I just need a good shouting at – and people about whom, by and large, I could say the same. I can’t put my finger on why or how, but somehow I know I am part of this group, this odd near-family of people – I have a role, as I haven’t had for years now, within their ranks, and it’s partly a role they’ve chosen for me, one that’s evolved out of the group dynamic. For whatever reason, these are the people among whom I feel absolutely and insanely at home.
This is something I haven’t had for a while. I know people who’ve been in the same clique all through college, and for the two or three years since, and nothing’s changed for them. I know people who’ve been in the same group since year seven. But for me, I’ve had a different group every single year for years now, for a number of reasons. I’ve fallen out with one group and ran on to the next, then something’s happened there, and so on. I’ve never been enough part of the group that one injudicious comment, pairing-up or drunken evening doesn’t mean I’m shown the door. I’ve always had certain of my friends, but haven’t known the other people they socialise with, and have met up with those people singly or in awkward groups comprised of people who I barely know. But finally I’ve actually been accepted into an entire group which has in it, altogether, five or six people who I’d trust implicitly. I met them last summer and I don’t know how it’s taken me so long to realise that they think about me as being part of their group, and not the faceless outsider I was so convinced I was.
I always thought the idea of a ‘clique’ was somehow childish, that it was somehow better to have many friends from all over the place as I always did. But I didn’t realise how fantastic it feels to walk into a room, the pub, the restaurant, sit yourself down and actually be entirely relaxed, at home in the company you’re keeping, and not always watching your back and trying to get the measure of the friends-of-friends you find yourself among.
I can’t really explain this whole thing very well, but I guess I’m just revelling in the security of having finally found my niche, a bunch of people who will accept me for whatever I do. Friendship unconditional. That’s what they give me, and that’s what I give them, without so much as thinking about it. And because that’s the way things are, I don’t want to even consider doing anything that could possibly rock that boat, even though I know I’m…safe.
Right now, I am so damn happy.