Friday, 14 August 2015

Just a girl I used to know - part 1 (we just drifted apart)

Like most people members of Ella's and my friendship group come and go. Some just gradually drift away without any fuss and it would only be when something made us think about them that we would realise that we had fallen out of contact. Most of the time we would then make an effort to get back in touch but this was seldom successful. Neither Ella or I were the type to chase frantically after former friends. It takes two to sustain a friendship and to keep on contacting somebody who clearly isn't interested rather feels like stalking!

Wendy W was a good example of a friend who drifted away. Ella and Wendy (raised from aged 15 by an older sibling) became quite close friends during the time I was away at university. They had several other friends in common and for about six months the two of them used to work in the same pub/restaurant at weekends.  They knew each other well enough to share lots of "girlie secrets" - things that they certainly wouldn't want to become widely known! But Ella was as ambitious as Wendy W was laid back and content to "go with the flow". So while Ella invested time and effort in finishing her A Levels (she had passed all her AS exams at the same time as me) Wendy W was content to be a party animal. Eventually Ella moved up the employment ladder and the overlap between her new circle of friends (mainly worked based) and Wendy W's circle of friends shrunk to almost nothing. And so the friendship ended: no drama, no falling out, more that the circumstances that created the friendship in the first place had changed and that there was nothing left to sustain it. Wendy is on Facebook so we know that she still lives in "Children's Home Ville" but neither Ella nor I has seen her in years. She is "just a girl I used to know." 

Another former friend that caused the two of us a lot of worry and sleepless nights was Nightjar. She went silent for so long that we unsubscribed this young mum from our newsletter. Previously she had been quite active in the group and she had recruited several new members. Nightjar used to live in the same small block of flats that Ella lived in when Ella and I left the Children’s Home.  We used to regard Nightjar as part of our “inner circle” of friends for the first couple of years we spent out in the big wide world but after 12 months of wondering where she and the baby were we had almost given up trying to get in touch. As we said at the time, “…. we will always think of her as a friend even if we never see her again.” We did eventually track her down and we lent her some money from the “Bank of Eve and Ella” to help her get back on her feet. We think she is still living in South Shropshire but we are not in contact. So she is just another girl I used to know.  

The third and final example is Janine M who was, to be charitable, somewhat strange. When we first met her she had just timed out from foster care. Her foster Dad had business contacts in Bristol and he pulled a few strings to get her an interview with an employment agency. For reasons only known to her Janine decided that Birmingham to Bristol was too far to drive in a day so she turned up unannounced at our house at about 9:30PM looking for somewhere to sleep. She slept on the airbed in the lounge and by 8AM she had breakfasted and departed for her 9:30AM interview. The next we heard was that she has started and then lost two jobs (one within a week of starting!) in Bristol and that she had then moved to Slough to work on a market stall owner by a friend. Not long afterward she wrote a chatty, friendly email that finished with a request to be unsubscribed from the newsletter! That was the last we ever heard from her.
Ella and I quite often wonder what happened to these, and to all the many other, "girls we used to know".



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