Once upon a time in the nineties, there was a group of friends who all worked together in a big shiny advertising agency in Central London. They would laugh and chat to each other across their desks, have lunch together on most days, and go out for drinks together after work. They would often stay up late into the night sharing secrets, telling bad jokes, pulling naughty pranks and very occasionally, talking shop.
They would take work trips together to advertising festivals in Cannes and Kinsale. They would attend glitzy award ceremonies in London and cheer loudly for colleagues up for a gong. They were invited to various industry parties and regularly hung out at Soho House, The Groucho Club and The Ivy. They were having the time of their lives and shared a magical moment in time that cemented their bond forever.
Then two of the friends fell in love. Eventually, they went on to get married and have a baby together. The circle of friends had all moved on to new jobs by this time, but were reunited again to celebrate with the happy couple with who they were all still so close. It was the perfect end to an era.
Over time, through circumstance or geography, people started to drop out of the circle. New bonds were formed and old friendships, although never forgotten, were nudged gently aside to make way.
Although they were never all to be in the same room together again, smaller break away groups would catch-up over a beer or a coffee, every once in a while.
Then one day, one of their little circle received a phone call to say the happy couple had split, and in that moment everything changed.
It became difficult for the group of friends to all be in the same room together. Mutual friends found themselves with divided loyalties and choices had to be made.
And, that was just the way things were.
For a very long time.
The couple went their separate ways and discovered new loves.
They remained living in the same area for the sake of their child, but the emotional distance between them stretched for miles and miles.
Until one of them lost a parent, and in this tragedy there was an epiphany.
The realisation of time lost, never to be regained.
In grief, they revealed themselves.
Slowly, this couple started to rebuild their friendship.
Bit by bit.
One day at a time.
Last week, I had dinner with the two of them. In the same house, at the same table, with another mutual friend.
New partners laughed and joked with old.
A young lad sprawled out on his mother’s lap, with his legs resting up on his Dad’s.
In the kitchen they do not share, one chopped vegetables while the other poured wine. They entertained their friends.
It was just like the good old days except at the end of the night, one of them called a taxi home.
I did not know if they would ever get there.
But they have, and it is absolutely wonderful.
Not every marriage works out, but some friendships are made to last a lifetime.
Image credit: National Geographic