Sometimes you meet someone and it feels like it was ‘meant to be’. Maybe you’ve admired them from afar before getting up the nerve to talk to them properly, and when you finally do you launch into a friendship that really is something special. You discover strange similarities like the fact that you both travelled the world and visited the same places at more or less the same time, or that you were born in the same year and all of your children are the same ages, with further coincidences about their birthdays and personalities. You embark on a friendship based on commonality but with a healthy dose of sarcasm and honesty and it’s really rather lovely.
At some early stage you find out that she’s planning a world trip, with three children and a husband and you laugh enthusiastically, lamenting the fact that you could never afford to do something so exciting. You follow her preparations and sense that there are huge differences in your organisation skills – here is the women for whom lists were invented. You sympathise at the number of necessary inoculations they are going through and the trials of getting a needle phobic 5yo to agree to them, and you continually have to ask “So, where are you going first?” because you’ve got an appalling memory and none of it seems real yet.
You celebrate with them when they rent out their house, worry about the fact that the electricity meter hasn’t been replaced and whether it might affect the lease being signed. Laugh at the fact that they’ve had the entire house re-decorated at great expense and it’s “A bit too blue” and find it impossible to picture anyone else living in her beautiful home.
You meet up and talk excitedly about what is to come. About the fact that they’ll be going to Disneyland for the 5yo’s birthday and he’s not altogether impressed or that they’re going to Japan, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Borneo and MORE fantastic places and you can’t imagine how it’s going to be. You nag her to contact publishers to secure a book deal because she’s an amazing writer and she fobs you off with excuses about lists and packing and chargers for electrical equipment.
And then one day it becomes very real. The countdown clock is practically into single figures and the butterflies in your stomach are only a fraction of what she’s going through. You know that you’re going to miss her very much, this friend that you talk to every day, who has supported you and laughed with you and made the transition from a virtual friendship to one so incredibly real. But you don’t tell her any of this, because she’s a wuss and you don’t want to make her cry. So instead you give her a friendly punch and wave her on her way.
Our lovely friend Julia has come up with the idea of choosing a virtual gift for Victoria on her travels. I’m sure lots of people will come up with fab ideas for her. I’m concerned that she might not be able to get decent chocolate while she’s away – everyone knows that Cadbury tastes rubbish anywhere but the UK, but I’ll be sending food parcels should she get desperate. I’ve thought a lot about this, and I’m giving her the gift of an enduring friendship, one that can weather breaks and separations without upset. I’ll miss you my lovely friend, have an amazing adventure. xxx