My best friends don't really know who they are. They have no idea that they play a bigger part in my life than the part they know about. They do not know that they can be my salvation.
I've known Eric for about 16 years. He had great concern for me a few years back when I went through my separation and made a point of coming down from his window cleaning ladder to see into my eyes when he enquired about how I was coping. He trusted me and shared wisdom from his breakdown following his divorce. Generally he's 'just' my window cleaner.
I've known Graham over 20 years. He doesn't just deliver packages, he rings the bell and has a chat. We discuss anything at all. Sometimes serious stuff. Sometimes not. Always a laugh to be had at the end. We pass each other driving sometimes and a hand always comes out the window.
Dave calls me "darlin" and sends me texts with "hello lovely, I'm in your area is it any good?". He sometimes hugs me to say hello and always parts with "look after". We've been friends for about 12 years. Mostly I pay him to wash my car.
My favourite of them all is Robert. He looked liked he might cry when he stumbled into learning my partner and I had called it quits and, as I welled up saying "It's ok", he gently enveloped me with one wall sized arm saying "It's clearly not ok". He has the biggest, happiest face (and body) and we share a very stupid and daft sense of humour. He is the highlight of my week. We meet on Friday lunchtimes. He delivers our butcher meat. My relationship with his family business goes back 16 years and I've been good friends with him for 9.
They need nothing from me. And they take nothing. They are dependable, regular givers in my life and I thoroughly cherish them. Avoiding celebrations for my big birthday a couple of years ago, I realised being with these guys was the only type of event where I would feel truly comfortable. They don't know each other. They don't know they help keep me on the straight and narrow. Maybe one day I will tell them how magically important they are to me.
The room above the garage.
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