Sunday, 26 June 2011

Birthdays - and friends ... again

Another year older. Sadder? Wiser? Sadder - in some respects. Wiser - not a chance!!

First up, thanks to all my Facebook friends for the lovely greetings, wherever you come from, either geographically, or from various networks. You may be dog friends, land rover friends, feminists, part of the Scottish network, or from Farmville. Think I've covered everything there, but whatever, it was lovely to get those messages. I've been off-line for a couple of weeks and it was gorgeous to come back to lots of happy birthdays. Today has been my first chance to say thanks.

Now for the rest of the post, if you have haven't read the earlier stuff - here is some context. Birthdays and Party, party

The quick precis for anyone who can't be arsed to read those, is that I think it is nice when people remember your birthday and acknowledge it, and, that this year, I was invited to a party in the UK the day after mine - and was deliberating whether or not to go. These posts are both relevant - read on.

To start with the last post first, no, in the end I didn't visit the UK and go to the party. I received some very generous offers from internet friends to meet up, offers of accommodation, and some good advice too.

So, why didn't I go? Sounded good. Posh party and meet new people before and/or after. How about cash-strapped? That's probably the basic one. I can't justify spending hundreds - verging on a thousand pounds - for a few days jolly. Simple as that. Plus, for whatever reason, because my partner and I have birthdays on consecutive days, we have always tried to make our two days special. Did I want to spend our birthdays apart? No. Haven't done that for years.

Next. Over the last few years, one of my basic questions has started to become - what would someone else do if the situation was reversed? ie would they traipse a few thousand miles for a party? When my partner's niece died Sarah and he planned to fly back to the UK for the funeral, we started to question if anyone would ever fly out for one of our deaths. Unlikely. Again if you can't be arsed to read the post, he wasn't even offered transport or accommodation.

Back to party party. This is (was?) to be fair, my dearest friend from university. In our lovely long university hols, I visited her and other friends at their parents' homes. And some came back to stay with me. On leaving university, most of my friends ended up in London, away from their family homes. We were all growing up. Arrangements between all of us became much looser - 'always welcome, come when you want'. Luckily, as my remaining close friends were all in London, I had a decent choice of accommodation there. If there was a work conference or meeting needing an overnight stay, it was a good opportunity to catch up with friends. And if I ever got a rejection, it was because someone was away, so I just rang one of the others.

Not many people passed where I lived, Up North, although ironically Dearest Friend did. And that's exactly what she did. Although we lived a couple of miles from the motorway, did she ever stop off? Of course not. One day, we were somewhat put out to discover that on one of her annual holidays, she had taken the time to drive down from their second home to a local castle ten or fifteen miles away. Hmmmm.

It wasn't as though we weren't welcome at her holiday home though. It was about sixty miles drive away, but we were frequently summonsed when they were in residence. We camped outside as there wasn't room inside. At New Year, we stayed at a crap hotel so we could dine together on New Year's Eve. One year, I had picked up some ghastly virus and couldn't face the annual winter summons. She sounded rather put out. I should have realised then that she was not to be disobeyed.

When I moved to Spain, it took her five years to condescend to spend less than 24 hours with us, en route from a dressage course teaching horses how to dance. I had discovered by then that she had visited Spain on numerous occasions, some relatives of her husband had a place up the coast, they had a quick trip to Madrid one week, a friend in Majorca held a party, etc etc - how far down the list had I sunk?

The last time I visited her, we had to go to the post office. 'Do you think the card will get there for her birthday tomorrow?' she said anxiously. To Majorca? To the Spanish friend who seemed to merit more visits and cards than me? I doubt it would have got to her on the other side of London the next day, let alone Majorca. 'No.'

So this is the woman who wants me to drop everything, forego mine and my partners' birthdays and attend her summer luncheon housewarming party. The party was today. My birthday was yesterday. I sent my reply a month ago saying I wouldn't be attending. And did I receive any birthday greeting from her? I don't think I need to answer that. I think you can all work that one out yourselves.

So, yes, it hurt that she didn't acknowledge my birthday. Maybe Vicky was right (see previous party party post) with her comment. Maybe our paths have become so wide apart that we are strangers. Sadly. Which brings me specifically onto birthdays.

There are some internet friendships you make that are closer than others. You remember their birthday, they don't remember yours. Or vice versa. I know, because I have been guilty of that - knew when it was roughly, but something came into your mind and - whoosh - you miss it, for which I am truly sorry. Not helped by being offline half the time (excuses excuses). So when someone doesn't remember mine, hasn't made a note, doesn't think it is an important thing to say Happy Birthday, you realise you aren't that important in their life. Even if you are in contact every day. There comes a point when you stop telling people it is your birthday just for them to dish out a trite and meaningless greeting. As I said, sadder - and - wiser ?

And all the more reason for appreciating the birthday wishes I did receive when I returned on-line today. Thanks especially to those of you who sent e-cards as well as a greeting. Sometimes FB helps because it makes remembering birthdays easy - just look up at the right-hand corner. Maybe I'll make more effort after yesterday, even if I don't know people too well.

Almost forgot. What did I do? Woke up at some disgustingly early hour, and decided to get rid of superfluous clothes. Some went in the charity bank, the others are marked up for poss car boot sale/Friday Ads - or the charity bank. Walked round the beach. Went into town to buy a bottle of cava and a couple of beers. Wandered around town checking out all the changes. Came back home, cooked lunch (asparagus and potato salad for the foodies out there) - and decided against cleaning. It was a good day.


Vicky said...

If you spent your birthday, doing what YOU wanted to do, in the company YOU wanted to be with and can look back and say 'Yes! that was a good day' it sounds good to me. x

Anonymous said...

Well , Belated Happy Birthday..........and yes believe me your birthday was a good one......i wonder about mine.......It's coming 12th of July...and I am turning 17.......Well let us see how it goes.......Once again Happy birthday.....I woluld be glad if u read my blog