When we were young there was no expression such as “BFF” (Best Friends Forever) and it’s difficult to tell, when a friendship begins, how long it will last, but after almost fifty years of friendship, I believe we can say we are Best Friends Forever.
When we were young
Only yesterday when you organised the usual family reunion that happens whenever we come over for holidays, I was telling someone we were classmates for only two years, back in Mozambique, and then were separated after the revolution. Always a keen writer, I wrote you long letters and was somewhat disappointed that you rarely replied. I knew you didn’t enjoy writing, however, and even if I complained a bit I kept on writing and never for a moment doubted your friendship! A friendship that was rekindled every year when I came to Madeira for holidays and we anxiously waited for the moment when we got together and poured our hearts out to each other, with our, always exciting, news. Not to mention the many adventures we had together, during those unforgettable holidays in Madeira but also whenever you came for a weekend in Lisbon, and we sneaked out at night to go to a disco or to some irresistible party…
And we always have so many things to tell each other every time we meet again – like last Friday. After arriving we all had lunch together and shared the most relevant news but in the late afternoon when you suggested we go for a swim in the sea and the men said they’d stay home we didn’t hesitate for a moment, and down the hill we went, talking incessantly about what we have been doing in the year and a few months since we were last together. It feels so good to be back to Madeira but most of all it feels so good to be with you, my soulmate, my oldest friend, someone who knows everything about me and about whom I know everything as well. And what we don’t know, or don’t remember – we share.
Much in common
We have led different lives; you studied Maths while I hated it and did Law instead; you went to University in Coimbra where your grandparents lived while I studied in Lisbon; you met your future husband there, although – coincidence of coincidences – he also came from Madeira, so you both came back, married and lived happily ever after, for you have been blessed in your marriage. Like me, you have two wonderful children, in your case a boy and a girl, Carolina, who was married herself last year, in a wonderful occasion that brought us all together to live another set of happy, unforgettable moments together. I have been living in in Lisbon, married and had my children there, built my career in the financial sector, but unlike you had an unhappy marriage and eventually divorced. But no matter all these differences, we share the same principles, ideals, laughs and dreams – so many things that bring us together.
Old songs, new plans
We kept seeing each other over the years, either in my place or your place, getting together with our children for holidays or a long weekend. I remember that year when the “avian flu” phobia made us give up on our planned trip to Mallorca, going for a week in Troia peninsula near Setubal instead; what fun we had, how we sang in the car with our children as we came back from dinner in a restaurant a few kilometres away…curiously, a tradition we have managed to keep, that of singing together. Even today, as we came back from the beach on the other side of the island, Carolina connected her Spotify list to the car stereo and she put on some oldies – that she also loves, obviously – from our youth. And how we sang! Somehow it always happens when we get together. Today, as her husband Álvaro patiently drove, and Nuno smiled as the three of us in the back sang loudly, putting all our energy into the songs, suddenly there was one I remembered from our days together at school, in the early seventies, by Portuguese group Green Windows, called “Vinte anos” (Twenty years”, in English). It’s a beautiful, romantic song about two lovers who meet as children and then again after twenty years, and then live their life together. In the end the singer imagines the moment when, maybe twenty years from the moment when he is singing, he may be no longer there but says she must not be sad, for “to remember is to live again”. At this point I felt my eyes fill with tears. This happens with love, as in the song, but also with a great friendship, such as ours. And isn’t friendship the most perfect emotion of all? It has no space for jealousy or possessiveness, on the contrary – it’s not selfish, and it can last forever. Luisa and I have been friends all our lives, and I simply cannot imagine a world without her. I refuse to. We’ll still live many good moments together, like the celebration we are planning for the 50thyear anniversary of friendship, that will take place in 2022, or a trip we are planning for next year with Nuno and Álvaro…and the inevitable old songs that we’ll still sing together, recalling the good old days.
Dear Luisa, our friendship is one of the very best things I have in my life. Thank you for always being there for me, for making me feel part of your family, for being who you are. Best Friends Forever – no doubt it applies to us, and never has the word “forever” been more appropriate than to this wonderful friendship of almost fifty years.
And now, enough of being a sentimental old fool, and to enjoy the rest of this week I’m spending with you, my dear friend, in my favourite place in the world, my beloved Madeira island. I feel like a lucky girl these days – aren’t I?
(If you want to know more about Luisa and how our friendship began, don’t miss “The girl with the ginger tresses”)