It had been 24 years since I last saw my room mates from university.We had all shared rooms off a corridor in Villiers Hall Leicester - a place more akin to a concrete multi storey car park than a home.When I dropped out of my course in the summer of .... well, too long ago to worry about, my life moved on to pastures new and I did not keep in touch, other than the odd Christmas card.Then they dwindled and stopped coming too, from both sides.
I ran into my closest friend from those times in a camp site in the Dordogne a couple of years ago and we got along like a house on fire. I suppose she must have kept in touch with the others for before long the Christmas cards started coming again.
So... yesterday we had arranged to meet in the cafe of the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington - all very spy like. I arrived at just gone 10am, not knowing what to expect and really not knowing whether I particularly wanted to meet up again. After all, if I hadn't kept in touch with them there was probably a good reason... However, I was pleasantly surprised to spot them buying coffees in the distance and even more surprised to find myself welling up with emotion.
Being the hard cow I am I quickly forced all that nonsense back down into my tummy and gave them all a cuddle.We spent the next3 and a half hours chatting and looking at photos. They had brought along envelopes of the things, whereas I had sadly brought only my car keys, phone, debit card and a jolly nice lip gloss.
It is strange to have to give a potted history of one's adventures over the last 24 years. You begin to realise that editing is essential, not purely from the time point of view, but to avoid looking smug or arrogant.You just can't plough in with detailed info of all the things you have done, places you have been, people you have met, holidays you have taken, blah, blah,blah, without looking like a knob.Best to sit back and listen to their tales of adventure... or not.I don't particularly enjoy talking endlessly about myself, although this blog may have you thinking otherwise.Even when I went mad after the children I soon got bored with therapy and having to drone on endlessly about my childhood.Its far more interesting to listen to other people.
I can't say that their lives surprised me. If you had asked me 24 years ago to predict what they would be like, what they would be doing in 24 years time, and put that prediction in a sealed envelope, to be opened yesterday, I think I would have guessed pretty accurately. Of all of us I would choose my life every time - which may sound smug, but is in fact quite pleasing from my point of view. I have no envy of their lives, no sorrow over mine. I did the right thing dropping out and my life has been fun and varied.
The nicest thing about yesterday was that it was as though we had popped out for an hour or two and were now back in our digs discussing the day over coffee. As I said to them, I felt completely comfortable and relaxed in their company, despite the intervening years.There was talk yesterday of a walking weekend with our husbands, but I am not sure if that will come about, or even whether I particularly want to... But it was good to see them and I know that we will meet up again.