Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Glitter, Glitter


That’s what the end of the week is doing. It’s glittering at me. In five sleeps’ time, I’m collecting my friend, K, from the airport and then we’re driving to Berlin (I can’t stay away; I’m addicted) for a week of sightseeing, shopping, eating and non-stop talking. Since we have seven children between us, and they will all be far far away with their daddies, there might also be a little bit of sleeping, reading in bed, working on novels, and stopping off for chai lattes at any moment of the day or night BECAUSE WE CAN.

K and I have known each other for 26 years. I got a little weepy when I worked that out. Twenty-six years is a long time to know someone. Two other friends are supposed to be with us, but can’t for various reasons. One of them I have known for 32 years and the other for 20. Clearly, I am someone who is hard to shake off. Once I find you and decide you’re mine, then we’re friends for life.

Remember what it was like to make a friend at the age of 12? You spent long afternoons together, and then phoned each other as soon as you got home. You discussed every detail of your life minutely. My family lived out of town, so I made it my habit to spend nights at my friends’ houses. They really couldn’t get rid of me. I partook in their family lives, sat around their dinner-tables and listened to their parents talk. I became a bit of a fixture, like a wall-hanging or a lamp. While my parents’ marriage was falling apart and my mother was slowly finding her feet again, both K’s family and that of my friend who I have known for 32 years became my replacement families. They both offered me a place where I could feel secure. So they are more than friends, really. They are sisters.

Last week, someone I know told me that I have let her down, that I have not been a good friend to her. That gave me pause for thought, because I have always considered myself a good friend. I have been known to forget the odd birthday (sorry E), but generally, I make my friendships a priority. It’s much harder now to give my friends the time I used to be able to give when I was 12, given that my life has become exponentially fuller.

My mother always said that you have friends for different reasons and different times of your life. I have old friends, new friends, German friends, expat friends, friends whose children are my children’s friends, blog friends, book friends, writing friends, friends my husband found for me, friends I have stolen from him and friends whose husbands or wives are his friends. Usually friends fall into more than one category, and the more categories the better. I think what happened with this friend who is disappointed with me is that I haven’t allowed her to rise above a certain category in which I’ve pegged her, and she would really like to defy her category and be more to me. I’ve been a bit rigid with her. I see that now.

Now, all you category-defying friends, I need to get back to work. I may manage to post before Berlin, but I may not. Forgive me if I don’t. I’ll be back soon, with stories.


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

12 thoughts on “Glitter, Glitter

  1. i still have one good friend whom i have known for 35 years, one that i’ve had for 26 years and one that i met 18 years ago.
    the latter accused me of having let her down at one time during our friendship, about ten years ago. that was a time when there was a lot of sorrow and turmoil in my life i had to sort out for myself – or at least i could not approach my friends with ask for help because i was too depressed or too helpless finding out what was wrong with me.
    she has revised her feelings, we have talked about it, and she realised now that i had as much reason for feeling let down as she did.
    i’m a person who gives a lot, cares a lot, and she was used to more attention from my side; that i needed someone to care for me was quite a new situation and she didn’t know how to handle it then.
    she thought as a good friend i should have confided in her, allowed her to help me, but i couldn’t at that time, which made her feel i did not regard her as a good enough friend to help me. i just needed someone to pry things out of me, work them out with me – i’m not the kind of person who can blurt everything out and feel better immediately.
    i think it is mostly expected of people who usually are good friends that they are always good friends, so people are more likely to complain about being neglected or let down.

    have a lovely week in berlin with your friends, charlotte. i’d love to go once more this year. i don’t think i’d want to live there, but berlin definitely has a lot of attractions! and catching up on sightseeing, shopping, eating, talking and sleeping sounds wondeful!

  2. Charlotte, have a fantastic, and very glittery week in Berlin!

  3. Have a fabulous time on your trip! It sounds wonderful.

  4. I loved your list of friends and the different categories… you certainly do have a wealth of friends.

    I remember a dream I had twenty years ago… I was looking in my bank book and there were names of my friends in the column that should hold my bank balance. It is hard to forget such a dream. It made me realise that, in my life at least, my wealth will come from my friendships and not monetary gain. And how true this is.

    Here are my wishes that you and your dear friend jump out of some of your own boxes you pegged yourself in the last years of motherhood and marriage. Be wild, but not frivolous. Be joyful, but not silly. Be yourselves through and through.

    We will all be waiting for the stories. You can use other names to protect the innocent. We want all the gory details!

  5. have a wonderful holiday – we eagerly await your return. I know (although she hasnt’ told me) that i have let a certain friend down, and as horrible as it is I did it consciously. I’m not one to throw around buzzwords but I really did find her company toxic – she always made me feel awful. I still suffer guilt over it, though.

  6. I’m jealous! I love Berlin. Have a great time, won’t you – but make the most of right now, since all the fun is just ahead of you.

    Lovely stuff about friendships: one of my own friendships is 33 years (and I’m 37).

  7. Charlotte have a totally devine girly glittery sleepless time in Berlin! Can’t wait to hear all about it!
    Also thank YOU for a wonderful friendship! Whilst it is definitely young compared to some others, I truly value it for all the different “categories” that our friendship has fallen into. From where and how it started to where it is now and I know will continue… thank you!
    xxx Tanya

  8. Have a lovely time and drink a glass of wine for me.

  9. Only five more sleeps! Have fun.

    I think it’s wonderful to have such old friends. For one reason or another, I have lost touch with the friends I had when I was young, so I don’t have that long history of childhood and teenagehood with anyone still. But having blog friends is great too!

  10. Have a lovely time! I’m going away for a week next week to Perth as well. I’m not very excited about it though as its for work not fun.

    You sound much more patient than me with drama from friends. I don’t deal well with needy demanding people unless they are my kid or my spouse. I feel quite bad about that sometimes. It’s important to be loyal and supportive to friends & I do try- but I have a lot going on and only a certain amount of time and energy. The people I’ve stayed friends with long term are people who can handle that.

  11. Hi Charlotte. Without the full details, I think that perhaps this friend was crossing the line a little in telling you off. We all lead busy lives as adults and should not be holding each other to unexpressed demands or expectations. It sound like a bit of an adult tanty to me.

    You have perfectly conjured memories about childhood friendship. There is a song by the Whitlams about a childhood friend who has changed that has this line: ‘You remember what I remember and that’s enough to care you don’t fall off the rails’.

  12. Do have a wonderful girls’ week in Berlin!

    I do have something of a friend (we only talk sporadically, even over email) of 23 years, and two (a couple) from 19 years, but otherwise I pretty much have lost track of most of my old friends. My husband is even worse though. He hardly keeps in touch with his family no less his friends.

    I think it’s natural to compartmentalize friendships to some degree, as we have different contexts for them as you describe. But then freeing that up can be wonderful to0.

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