N is one of those friends who I don’t see enough of, but when we do it’s like we only saw each other yesterday.
There was a time when I wouldn’t go a day without seeing him; we were inseparable. We came as a pair. He turned 21 the same month I turned 18. We would get dressed up and go out clubbing every single night, then spend endless hungover days on the sofa watching crap TV. We even had a secret night out at the Tube every Wednesday, which we didn’t tell any of the others about, in case they wanted to come – it was just for us. (And Anthony the barman, who once wrote me a poem, pushed under a toilet door while I sat in there and cried.)
Of course, we hated each other at first. We’re too similar, both territorial and secretly thin-skinned. Then we bonded over 80s Kylie and Jason, and agreed that Hit Me Baby One More Time may in fact be the saddest song ever written. I declared that he was like Morrissey and Johnny Marr trapped in the same body, even though he didn’t like The Smiths. We became best friends overnight. It was like a mad love affair, only better.
He still makes me laugh like nobody else on earth, acerbic wit hiding the staunchest heart and strongest moral compass of anyone I know. He is the best dancer you’ve ever seen, and makes me about 20% better at dancing when I am in his presence. He’s that kind of a person. We disagree on almost every subject (politics, especially) but I always respect his opinion.
I would say without a doubt that N is now my most successful friend. He has an amazing career and has been sensible with his money. More than that, he has a wonderful long-term marriage, cats, houses; he is close to his family and does a lot for charity (ssh, don’t tell anyone).
When we met, we were both horribly unhealthy in every imaginable way, with every bad habit you can imagine (and some you probably can’t); N now has a personal trainer and the constitution of an athlete.
While most of my friends (and, yeah OK, myself) have been going through early-to-mid 30s crises of varying degrees – fucking up and panicking all over the place, taking last-ditch attempts to change our lives in often inadvisable ways – N has weathered the same dangers with unwavering solidity, through sheer hard work. He’s got the same problems as everyone else, of course – he has just learned how to handle them really, really well.
Recently, he has given me the best advice of anyone and has made me feel positive and strong about the future – whatever that looks like. His energy is contagious and makes me feel better about the world.
He texted me these wise (and typically self-deprecating) words this morning,
‘I’m literally making it up as I go along, hahaha. It’s amazing that having a bit of confidence makes other people think you know what you are doing. Quite hilarious.’
Everybody needs a friend like N, and I will be forever grateful for mine.