10 March, 2006

Working title

A long time ago, I had a friend with whom I thought I would never lose contact, in whom I confided at length, and for whom I sincerely thought I would do anything.

He was one of a few new people I met when I was in the sixth form at school and ended up becoming quite close to, drawing inspiration from their interests, personality and opinions while hopefully offering some kind of companionship in return. I was never this person's best friend, but I liked to think I was more than simply an occasional acquaintance and not about to suddenly fall off his radar for good.

He, however, was one of those people who everybody seemed to like, and who made no enemies. He was popular for simply being himself, a state of affairs that sometimes led me to frustration, sometimes to despair: how come making friends was so easy for some and not for others? I'll never forget one occasion when he arrived unexpectedly at the end of some after-hours event at school, and on his appearance almost everybody in the room turned on cue and cheered. It wasn't insincere, it wasn't contrived. It was just the kind of response he always seemed to evoke.

Anyhow, I thought I would always stay in touch with him, and for a time, after I went to university, I did. He moved to London, I moved to Liverpool, I visited him a few times, he came up once when he needed somewhere to stay en route to an audition for a drama studies degree.

Then I remember trying to phone him around the turn of the millennium and him always being out, never responding to my messages, never returning my calls. I eventually gave up and waited for him to get in touch in his own time. Which he never did. And that was it. I never saw or heard from him again. A person with whom I shared two of the best years of my life and invested so much emotion, just vanished, gone, disappeared.

He's still out there somewhere, because I've spotted mentions of him while searching on Google. Just not in my world anymore.

Why all this, and why now? Because my new boss has exactly the same name as my old friend, and I can't handle it. I just can't deal with such a giant clash of the personal and the impersonal. This sort of thing isn't supposed to happen. You can't go through life seeing the names of once close friends being suddenly sported by soulless faces sitting at a soulless desk a few feet away from you in a soulless office block. It wrecks the equilibrium of your memory. It distorts the perception of your past. And it demeans the significance of the old in favour of the shock of the new.

I wish I knew where my friend really was and how to reach him. Reeling as I am from my first week in my new job, I could do with his wise counsel and comradeship more than ever.


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