I need a friend, oh, I need friend.

An indulgent trip down memory lane!

In a recent post I told how, listening to a song I hadn’t heard for a long time, I suddenly found myself crying. The song, somewhat ironically, was Wonderful Life; a semi classic from the 80’s. It’s release coincided with a massively emotional time for me. In that post I described how I could remember another time I had listened to that song, a time that was full of that emotion. It certainly didn’t feel like a wonderful life at the time. I was in a bar a couple of weeks after taking a near fatal overdose and very seriously considering making a proper job of it in the very near future. My memory of that exact occasion is very vivid, down to the people in the bar etc. Once again the curse of a very detailed and comprehensive autobiographical memory. The title of this piece is a line from the song. It is certainly how I felt at the time. I felt utterly deserted at the time. By one person in particular but by others in general. Whether that feeling was justified is not really the point; that was how I felt. It is a feeling that has a hangover even now. A feeling of being deserted by friends because they took too much at face value too easily. The fact remains at that time, in that bar, I felt completely alone in a way I never had before. Despite being surrounded by people and noise. The step over the edge would have been a small one.

Thinking about what happened the other day listening to this song provoked another memory.A few months after this and not quite in that terribly dark place. I’d gone out with my flatmates but was leaning against the bar on my own being “cool and darkly moody” when Wonderful Life started to play. A girl suddenly appeared at my side and sang the lines
“And I need a friend, oh, I need a friend
To make me happy
Not stand here on my own”
Except she changed I to you and my to your. As introductions go it was pretty impressive! It turned out she knew my flatmates and had asked them who I was, being intrigued by my faraway look apparently. (Obviously a look I should have cultivated.) We sat up and talked all night that night. It could have been one of those one thing leads to another occasions but wasn’t. We just talked; about all sorts but particularly about my hopes and fears and depression. In the early hours of the morning her sister came in and joined in the chat. This is the point of the story. Through a combination of circumstances it was her sister who became a much closer and long-term friend. A very dear and valued friend. A beautiful piece of serendipity from someone singing a line from a song about needing a friend to me. The sister of the singer, the close dear friend died in very tragic circumstances a few years later after an extremely difficult period in her life.  The singer, well she is one of my friends who died recently. I suppose another good reason for my unexpected recent tears.

All this got me thinking about the nature of friendship. The word friend has changed in meaning in many ways recently, partly down to the Facebook and internet phenomena. People become your “friends” but often the link is very tenuous. My recently departed friend certainly gave at least as much as she asked, if not much more. That to me seems to be at least part of the mark of a true friendship. Perhaps that’s why I get disappointed from time to time. I mentioned earlier that there is still a hangover from the feeling of desertion all that time ago. It hurts; both the fact of it and its present day ramifications and the memory of the very real pain at the time.

I will link Wonderful Life below so you can listen if you like.

As my friend would have said on that long ago evening “devenir a gris”!

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