Travelling abroad is exciting. Even visiting familiar places never gets tired, as you become localised and stop looking for the touristy spots and start looking for the special places no one else knows about. Last night was just such a night. We found a gem of a restaurant in London, with outside seating, low to the ground, on a balmy summers evening. It was idyllic, to say the least.
The food – Moroccan in nationality – really was flavoursome, rich in colour and exotic spices.
The wine, rich and red, flowed like water. Pomegranate seeds were scattered like rubies, over pink salmon, lamb tagine served dark and dense, and swish kebabs were served on copper plates and eaten with glee. Or maybe, the food was crap. I wouldn’t know.
The evening was really exceptional and aromatic and delightfully decadent, because we were with old friends. And I went to sleep happy.
Among the architecture and the artefacts of museums and galleries, the treasures that London holds for me now are ones that have been built over my lifetime. I have a few (I can count them on one hand,) friendships with very unique characters, who have been a part of my life since my very earliest memories.
The magic that makes a simple friendship become a lifelong bond is unfathomable to me. If I met these people again, would we still become friends? I’d like to think so, but perhaps things would be different. How would we have met, if not through our parents placing us in similar environments at the onset of our education? At any rate, we are friends and that’s what matters now.
So we see each other once, maybe twice, a year. We chat via the telephone and Facebook and keep up to date with one another’s news. But the comfort is in knowing that somewhere in the world, there’s a person who knows you, as well as you know yourself, but loves you any way. More often than not, they love you more than you love yourself. For no personal gain, no outward reason whatsoever, they want to be your friend.
The secret language of old friends means a glance passed between two people can cause an eruption of giggles, or a comforting smile. You don’t need a map, or a dictionary, or even a ticket, to explore an old friend. You were there – or as good as.
So getting back to the travelling analogy. The way I see it, you get two types of travellers: Type One are people who travel to London only t
o see the hot spots. They are interested in Buckingham Palace, The Tower and Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral. They don’t want to explore the little lanes off Oxford Street to find the hidden treasures – they came to see Oxford Street. They visit once or twice, see a few shows, and take great photographs of the place. Traveller Type Two enjoys finding new places, exploring unchartered streets, finding unusual spots to lunch – other than Burger King or McDonalds. They’ve seen what is there to be seen – in all the guide books – but they know that there is so much more.
Friends can be split down the same classification. Some only visit to see the high points and the glamour. They want the fun, the frivolity and the photographs. And, let’s face it, the world needs people like that. We even need friends like that, to add their own little bits of icing to our cake. But when it comes to crunch time, they’re not interested in the eccentricities and the heartaches that make you who you are, just like the tourist Type One is not interested in Welbeck Road, London.
That’s where the Type Two tourist is such an asset. Like the Type Two friend. Among the artefacts and art galleries – they are the real treasure. Hence the Bra analogy. Friends who have been around for a long time know how you work and where things should be.