The best thing about some friendships is that you can go for years without seeing each other, but the bonds remains strong as ever. And as I am beginning to ease myself back into my old life in the UK, I have been slowly reestablishing the bonds with some of my old friends.
Ted is a fiery, red-haired lawyer (she is the second close girl pal I know with the nickname Ted), and back in the day when we were young and ambitious, we used to meet up in City pubs to plot and plan (though we worked for different institutions). These days, she is 52, divorced, mother of a 20-year-old and chief legal officer of an investment bank, still living our old life and smoking a crazy amount of cigarettes.
On impulse, she decided to fly 9,000kms for a two-day visit.
“All these miles for two days?” I asked and she scoffed at me, “I fly business. And I do work, you know, unlike you.”
And so she arrived in Phuket on a rainy weekday, jostling amongst Chinese tourists, backpackers and budget holidaymakers. We jumped into a budget taxi. “You don’t have a driver? I thought things are cheap here.”
“I try to live simply. I don’t even have a car.” I didn’t want to tell her that I was tempted to take the airport bus.
“Is that an euphemism for being broke? You’ve been out of the big league for a very long time, and those kids of yours can’t be cheap, can they? I can’t understand why some women choose to have so many kids, so irresponsible!”
We drove past a village in the backroads and passed a roadside shack where an old man sat watching the rain with a gaggle of kids. I rolled down the window and waved at them; they waved back with big smiles. “Hallo, hallo, hallo,” they shouted at us.
I smiled at my friend, “Do you remember, Ted, how we used to complain about the cramped Tube where nobody smiled at each other, afraid even to make eye contact? And perverts groping and pushing against us.”
“What’s your point?” She demanded aggressively.
I showed her to the simple bedroom in my house. I could see her expression; it was clear that at that moment in time, she wished she had never made the trip. But that room, it had been a safe sanctuary to a few of my friends in their times of need.
The room is now filled with their energy imprints as they transitioned from darkness into the beginnings of light. They all left something behind, something that looks and smells like hope and new beginnings.
Later, when the rain stopped, I asked Ted if she would like to take a walk with me down to the local shop to buy food for dinner.
Her designer strappy sandals weren’t suitable for our rough roads here, so I lent her a pair of flip-flops. We walked down the road.
“Everyone seems to know you,” she comments in surprise.
“They’re my friends.”
She peered closer at the massage girls, the old man who collected plastic bottles for recycling, the tuk-tuk drivers and stallholders. I have written about all of them in this blog. Yes, they are indeed my friends, the people I live amongst in my simple life, a long way from London.
We picked up some local vegetables. And we plucked more leaves on the walk back to my house. Later, she sat on my balcony in the late afternoon sun, plucking the moringa leaves from their stalks.
“Couldn’t you just buy them in tablet form?” She grumbled.
“No, I prefer this. It’s therapeutic. And anyway, I can’t afford those fancy supplements,” I replied.
She looked at me keenly, her eyes shielded by expensive sunglasses. “You must be mad to want to leave all these behind,” she said tentatively.
“I was mad to leave the life I had behind,” I told her with a smile. “Do you remember my family home in Knightsbridge, next to the Albert Hall?”
“How could I ever forget!” She exclaimed. “I used to think that was the happiest home on earth.” It was.
Later, we walked down the beach for sundowners.
“To my happy friend,” Ted said, and for the first time since she arrived, I felt our old warmth and closeness.
“I’m going to need you when I go back home,” I told her seriously.
“I will be there,” she said with a brilliant smile. “Welcome home, my friend.”
Life’s a journey – travel your with joy and live each day gloriously, wherever you are ❤