From my early teenage years I had a group of about 8 mates – we done everything together. In the main it was playing football, or when we we a bit older (and braver) it was going over to the woods and staying up all night to see if there was a bogey man in there – it was also an excuse to get drunk on warm bottles of Bud, Two Dogs, Hooch and Diamond White.
I remember one particular evening, when we were about 14, we were sat on our mates garden wall discussing if we’d all still be friends later in life. One of us was also trying to volley a football at the others (to make us jump off) so he could sit down on the wall, so obviously the discussion wasn’t anything too in depth.
As the years passed the group started splitting up. Whether it be because one of them had found ‘the one’ and disappeared for months on end, or because someone had to move away for work etc. Other things started taking priority but we all stayed friends.
Nowadays I might go a few months without seeing or hearing from one of them – but when we do it’s like we haven’t been away. The banter is still there as if we were still sitting on the wall 15/16 years ago (we’re just not volleying footballs into one another’s faces). Like me, one of my friends still remembers the chat we all had on the garden wall too.
Some things have obviously changed though: each of them are all in long term relationships, one of them is married, seven of them have produced at least one small human and two of them have given up pretending they still have a decent hairline (for the record: I’m fighting a losing battle with my hairline).
Then, for the first time in about 18 months, we were all in the same room together for a christening of one of their babies. But something wasn’t right, it was odd. We’re all basically the same age, but everyone had seemingly got older. Talk revolved around things that aren’t even on my radar: babies, more babies on the way, mortgages, buying property, DIY and Vauxhall Zafira’s (brilliant for kids apparently).
You know when you see a film about people growing up and you see a quick video montage of everyone from infancy to adulthood? That’s what I seen as I stood there watching us all take the piss out of each other.
Each of them are happy in their own lives and I’m as pleased as anyone for them, but then I looked at myself and, even though I have no current desire to have kids / buy a house / do DIY / know where things are in Ikea, I wondered why aren’t I like them? Have I (for want of a better word) outgrown them, or have they outgrown me?
Even though we’ll always be friends and keep in touch, it’s the first time I felt very detached from them all. Here I am dropping everything and going to the other side of the world…wondering how/why didn’t I end up on the 2 point 4 children path like the others? I know everyone makes their choices, but it’s strange how it’s all worked out. Thankfully I didn’t go all Stephen Hawking on everyone, I was more concerned why my glass was nearly empty.