Sometimes I feel bad about the kind of friend I am. Sometimes I don’t exactly feel bad about it, but I feel like I want to be different.
Sometimes people come over and I realise that I have no food in the house again, solidifying my reputation as the crap-with-money one, the flakey one, the Phoebe-from-Friends one.
I have this occasional daydream where I have an open-door policy and people waft in and out of my house like leaves on a breeze. I’m standing in front of the oven making amazing creations. They come in, sit at my kitchen table (which doesn’t exist) and we talk while I make wonderful food. We have fun, they leave, the next person comes.
This is not a realistic daydream. For one thing, I have this sort of block in my head that prevents me from being able to cook as soon as there’s another person in my house. While I’m alone, I can make nice dishes that taste perfectly acceptable; as soon as another person arrives, I become incapable of opening a tin of tomatoes.
So, am I the friend people come to see when they want to be fed amazing food and have a casual chat about their day? No.
Am I the friend people call when they want a night out on the town, to be taken from bar to bar to wild party to afterparty, and given experiences they never thought they’d have? No. (I’m quite comfortable with not being that one, too.)
Am I the kind of friend people call to organise surprise parties, or do something that’s just really fun with? No.
Am I the kind of friend people rely on to show up to social occasions, remember birthdays, go out for
expensive nice dinners with? No.
And sometimes being the strange, flaky, freelance multi-jobbing weirdo gets exhausting. And sometimes I feel bad about it, because I’m just not… well, normal enough.
Am I the friend people text when they’re in a shitty situation, because they know that if it’s physically possible, I’ll go to wherever they are, bring them wine and listen when they talk, or just exist with them if that’s what they need? Yes.
Am I the friend people call when they’re at the end of their tether: the hospital admissions, the suicidal thoughts, the “my world has just fallen apart” moments? Yes.
And I’m trying to be proud of that. I don’t need to be those other kinds of friends, because I am my own kind.
I might be bad at having food in the house when people come over. I might run out of money a lot and not be good at showing up to parties and have a reputation for being horrifically antisocial and not reply to most text messages for days.
I might have an odd view on the world and rant about politics and talk obsessively about counter terror and child protection. I might talk loudly over dinner in a nice restaurant about not-nice subjects. I might be really fucking flakey and forget birthdays and refuse to meet near Christmas in case someone tries to make me celebrate it.
But I’ll also be there when the world stops. I’ll drop everything and come over when you need me. I’ll open my home and give you a space to be yourself when you need it. I’ll call the ambulance, be the executor of your will, go with you to the hospital appointments, stand by your side at the funeral, sit in silence when there just isn’t anything else to say.
And I think I’m learning to be OK with the kind of friend I am. I am Emergency Friend, and Friend Who Cares Deeply, and Friend Who Is Antisocial And Shit At Serving Food.
And after trying to be someone else from time to time and desperately failing? I think I’m starting to be fine with that.