I have a lot of friends. I’m a people person, I remember people even when I’ve only met them once (their stories, even if I don’t remember their names) and it’s a running joke that if there’s five degrees of separation, there’s only three if I’m added to the equation.
However, there have been some rough times in my life where I’ve realised that it’s true what Oprah says. Everyone wants to ride in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.
Being friends with me over the last few years – and the last 10 months in particular – has been no picnic. It’s not easy to be friends with someone who is (relatively) poor. I’ve quickly realised the friendships that have been based more on my own effort – because they are the friends that I’ve rarely seen (if at all) since being made redundant last year.
I’ve been lucky to have friends that have been willing to ride the bus with me since the proverbial limo broke down. Being friends with me means if you want to hang out, it can’t cost me too much financially. I can’t travel down on the train to see you because the train tickets are simply not in my budget. I don’t have a car to drive to you easily. For most of last year even a bus ride was an issue – that’s how tight money is. I actually became very depressed at the point where I couldn’t afford the bus – I went for weeks without seeing anybody. I just had to sit at home. Alone.
There were friends who got it and friends that didn’t. Some people have been fortunate enough never to be in my position. They’d be offended and stopped calling when you didn’t come to the pub because you couldn’t afford the drinks or the transport to get there and back.
And then there are the gems.
The ones who would invite you on a trip with them and give you a lift.
The ones who would invite you round to their house for breakfast or lunch.
The ones who would be willing to go to the cheap cafe rather than the reasonably priced restaurant (and understand that you would pay what you owed rather than doing the usual split the bill because you had to have every penny accounted for).
The ones who would be willing to go to the cinema when the cheapest tickets were available.
Something I was so grateful for, was that for my birthday last year I had been generously given a membership to Edinburgh Zoo. It was something I could do for ‘free’. I would pack my own snacks or lunch and friends that also had memberships would meet up with me and we could spend a few hours there and it cost me practically nothing.
I so appreciate those friends, and I hope they know it. I’m an extrovert and not having people around me, madness sets in quite quickly. Even something simple as washing dishes at someone’s house was a welcome invitation because it got me out of the house and doing something with my time!
I hope I’m a person that would get on the bus with a friend when their limo broke down too. Because they are the friends that are worth far more than gold.