Roots of Friendship

Theme: The personal rituals shared between lady friends.

Written by Melissa

One thing I’m not good at is routine or rituals. I find it a struggle to stick to a rigid timetable. I’m the queen of variation. Was amongst those who skipped with joy at the introduction of flexible work hours. And “lady rituals” are a no no. It’s a struggle to put deodorant on. I wax my legs only because it means I don’t have to bother with them for another six weeks, and even then, my work is patchy, literally. Too many summer engagements when I’d look down to see a hairy bracelet around one ankle. I avoid any interference with my bikini line as I’ve found pruning requires extra effort and any hair with follicles like eagle claws deserves to stay there. They only punish you with in-growing hair and puss bubbles. Besides there’s never a good time to own an itchy crack.

But lady-friend rituals, I slip into like silk stockings. Call the time and place and I’m there. It usually involves a combination of the following: wine, food, music, living rooms, green spaces. I tend to shy away from gendering. Girls in pink. Boys in blue. But I have to confess, as I’ve grown older, my friendships have become more one-sided. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been in a relationship six years and my pheromones have been oozing “taken mate” (though some call this body odour). I haven’t quite put my finger on when my male mates disappeared. I’ve got couple-mates and mates of my boyfriend who I enjoy hanging out with, but my boyfriend is always there. I can’t remember the last time I hung out with a boy who was just my platonic boy mate, me and him, sharing time together. My mate John once took me to the Royal Society of Surgeons Hunterian Museum in Holborn to see things cut in half and displayed in formaldehyde – that was nice. But John moved up North. Joe moved to Sweden. Ben got married and disappeared inside a stack of nappies. I amassed two boy mates from six years at two universities. Dorian, who litters my facebook with profanities but never comes to my parties (also a dad). Which leaves Stuart, who bakes me peanut chocolate cookies at the weekend, he’s a keeper.

So with that, I’ve come to rely on my lady folk. And what a pleasure this has been. It started with my original party crew – that group of mates you meet in your early twenties and share cigarettes and toilets with. We used to stay up all night playing Singstar and vinyl until the neighbours complained, one particular neighbour thought we were crazy voodoo people after lighting an 8-foot tall burning man in the corner of a garden not much bigger. And we’d talk, deep stuff that sounded intellectual because words like dialectic would be slung in. I remember having an epiphany about my master’s dissertation at a Serge Gainsbourg tribute with Jarvis Cocker, leaving my seat to write furiously on any napkin the waiter could give me. The next day I read it through my hangover, excited that the dawn of my genius had risen but it was basically a sketchy load of crap. My mate Kate, who always consoles me over a pot of tea, told me this regularly happens to her in the haze of sunshine and cider. Kate lived above me and we became close friends. I cried when she got pregnant; I’d lost my drinking buddy. Cried more when she called London a day, moving her, John, and baby Iggy back up North. Aside from yellow police MURDER signs she’d navigate the buggy around, what really did it was Iggy’s first word, ‘ball’, sounding like Phil Mitchell from Eastenders. Kate’s soul is a fusion of London and New York but her heart is found in the Lakes District, Cumbria.

Despite my own shortcomings, I have a friend who I’m addicted to the smell of, Flora. Funny how just writing this and seeing her name makes me laugh. So yes, Flora smells nice. I wish I could bottle it. I feel a kind of sisterhood vibe when we’re together. It started at a garden party. Flora had shortish very blond hair. We giggled all night. We both had boyfriends at the end of their life span. We both became single. We went to Thailand with another lady friend, Lizzy, and that really solidified it all. Once she had me, hook, line and sinker, she left to teach for two years in Hong Kong. Another one who wanted to pause button London’s grind. I lost Kate, Lizzy, Lottie, Lucy (she came back, then left again), Karin and Chloe, not to mention all my postgrad buddies, all to the transience of our Capital, in which I was born and bred. I hoped Flora would return but she just married a guy out there and is expecting her first child.

Much as I don’t dig a routine or ritual, I’m not massively comfortable when friendships change. It’s something that never comes easy and takes time to accept. I just found out I’m pregnant, and last night had to give my apologies to the Sushi & Wine Wednesday over in Oval with the fun-time lasses from Newcastle and Brighton. When I told them, I got the reply ‘another one bites the dust’ with a series of red wine emojis. Now I’m the one disturbing patterns, changing the status. For my original party crew, I’m playing catch up – they’re babied up and bagging bin-liners for me. To the subsequent friendships, I’m spearheading the way. The first to lay down the wine glass. Like my GMGM buddy, Jess wrote in her last piece, who knows how having a baby changes things. But for now, my friendship hopes to grow stronger and certainly isn’t going anywhere. Just like my bikini line.

Photograph courtesy of

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