I got an email from my friend Em last week with the subject line, "It's our Anniversary!" It makes me feel a little light-headed typing this, but it has been almost 20 years since we first met at university in Liverpool. She thinks we should mark the milestone and I tend to agree – why should couples get all the fun?
Romantic love has so many milestones and markers: engagement, marriage, ruby wedding anniversaries and the like. But there's no equivalent for platonic bonds, even though friendships are often as life-shaping, and life-affirming as any physical relationship. They aren't afforded the same value, which seems so archaic to me.
There is something decadent and lovely about two old pals gallivanting around in honour of their longstanding entwinement. It seems pleasingly Withnail…
If I do the relationship maths, I find that Em and my 20 years together is four times that of my longest romantic relationship. We've both seen each other through various break-ups, build-ups and f***-ups over those years.
Perhaps the support during that last category makes some friendships run so deep. Who knows your darkest secrets – you know, the really dark ones? Who rescued you from that dodgy "incident" in the middle of the night, or put up with you when you went so far off the rails it looked like you might never find them again?
There might not be much ceremony that acknowledges a friendship, but the relationships themselves are full of ceremony. I know that my friendship with Em is defined by the rituals we inaugurated and have shared over the decades. I remember a period of time, around 10 years ago, when my best friend Tam and I were both going through a lot of unpleasant things (man troubles, mainly) and the daily after-work pint and fag-rolling exercises in the local pub became a little lifeline. It was our bubble. Together we formed a defence against the world beyond.
There's all the adventures you share, too. They are worth remembering and repeating. I know that's where Em's head is at for our big two zero. She's got a two-tier idea in mind, starting with a trip to Liverpool, "where we met, for a 'heavy' weekend". Then, because the 20th wedding anniversary is "china" (as in paper, diamond, ruby, all that rubbish), she thinks we should go to "BEIJING AND SHANGHAI BABY." In capital letters.
She signed off with "Em and Al's Asian- niversary". Who am I to argue with that?Reuse content