Reading about International Friendship Day (30th July) got me thinking. We're terribly British when it comes to our friendships. At this point in our lives unless we're monumentally pissed off, or something's gone so wrong that it can't be ignored, we tend not to scrutinize them. And we don't really celebrate them either. So, although it's ultra corny, I just wanted to say, in (almost) the words of The Golden Girls theme tune, thanks very much for being my compadres.
You know who you are. You're the genuine article, not just acquaintances, friends of friends, people I'm friends with on Facebook out of politeness, or soul-shredding frenemies. You're the ones who I've enjoyed countless good times with and have got me through the bad. You've seen me in every type of situation - from red-eyed, covered in snot and wailing over rapidly disintegrating relationships, to having to deal with a boss who modelled their self esteem-sapping management style on the great dictators of our time.
We've shared masses of experiences, some great and others we probably could've lived without. Family traumas, the crappiest of crappy jobs, missing the bus home the first (and last) time that we went to Glastonbury, being each other's bridesmaids, having to spend a chilly night in Schiphol airport and traipsing around insalubrious parts London to watch stand up comedy of varying quality.
Despite my indecision, sometimes less-than-sunny outlook and addiction to organising you've supported me, listened patiently to my woes, doled out excellent advice, made me laugh so hard that I thought I was going to rupture something, and generally made me feel bloody fantastic.
I'd be lying if I claimed that it'd been all plain sailing. We're human, so there have been downs as well as ups. There have been times when we've felt frustrated with each other, or annoyed, fed up and out of sync. And times when we've questioned whether or not we want to stay friends at all. But, thankfully, they passed and we're still enjoying healthy doses of goodwill (and forgiving each other for laughing a bit too hard at our own jokes).
I've known some of you since I was in my teens, and others I met just a couple of years ago. No matter. I'm not one for time-related hierarchies when it comes to my friendships. Having decades of shared history can be nice, but I've learnt that it's not essential for enjoyable and mutually beneficial relationships. Shared values and sense of humour, tact, honesty and respect for each others' differences all go a long way too.
It feels like I've come to a point where I've weeded out the emotional vampires, anyone who makes me feel on edge, people I can't be myself with, the that's-enough-about-you-let's-talk-some-more-about-me type of friends and the ones who make me feel rubbish about myself.
So what I'm left with is you lot, my self-selected family. A constellation of kind, patient, clever and very funny people. I'm lucky to have you.