When we were young

Just now we were talking on the phone and laughing while we recalled the crazy things we did when we were young.

We met during our first year at University but it was only a year or so after that we became inseparable friends and shared almost everything: studies, exams (as I usually did my oral exams immediately after yours), evenings out with friends, going to discos, making up “stories” for your parents and my grandparents, dressing up for parties, make up…

We spent many hours with each other. As we only lived some three blocks away, invariably every afternoon after classes, one of us would walk to the other one’s apartment and we’d spend the whole afternoon together.

A the time of exams we would study hard and there would be no time for talking – whatever subjects there were, we really concentrated on our books, as there were hundreds, sometimes thousands of pages to go through. But with the exception of late January, February, June and July, we’d mostly spend our afternoons lazily discussing our favourite subjects: boys (of course!), clothes and accessories, outings, discos, parties, holidays (as summer approached), and others as such.

We lived through many adventures together, and were always there for each other, were it to share joys and good news or in the darkest moments such as the days of our exams or when one of us had a broken heart…one would always cheer the other one up, or say a joke that would stop tears from flowing… we’d listen to music together during those long afternoons, and I particularly remember you when I listen to “Zoom” by Fat Larry’s Band or “Africa” by Toto – I don’t really know why, as there were so many songs we loved, but somehow these two have remained “your” songs as far as I’m concerned…

I remember when you broke your leg in a car accident, how I went to see you and tried to soothe you while you anticipated your parents’ reaction upon seeing you like that – especially because you would have to confess it had happened while coming back from a disco outside Lisbon, remember, the one I had told you not to go to as it was risky to go to discos that were far away…and then how I carried your heavy Law codes to your oral exams as you were not able to due to your crutches? And how, on one winter afternoon at Versailles (one of our favourite cafés), just a few days before my twentieth birthday, you handed me my birthday gift: a photo frame that had no photo but a card inside, where you had written “May this frame soon show the photo of a charming, tender, clever, handsome…and preferably rich as well!, boy that will be your much longed for prince charming. Lots of love, Beli”. The frame in fact accommodated a handsome smiling face very soon after that, both later lost in the many changes of my life, but that card has accompanied me all these years, and even a few weeks ago, as I was going through some old papers, I found it and could not help laughing and remembering the days when we were young.

Remember that day when, bored to death during one of our Criminal Law classes – and as we were sitting in the back of the amphitheatre – we decided to write a “humoristic” play in one act, where we – together with two former boyfriends who shared the fact that they had done their military service at the same time – were the main characters. The story we invented was so completely crazy – and naughty too, as you may recall – that to this day we just have to mention it and we burst out laughing…yet another one of our private jokes, along with others that are perhaps better left unsaid…

We even graduated with exactly the same final result! Of course after that we didn’t see each other every day as before, but still we kept very close. By then we were not too keen on each other’s current boyfriends, but that didn’t matter one bit – our friendship was something apart from everyone and everything, it was just too strong.

And strong it remained as our professional lives took us through different paths, even different cities, as when you worked in Porto for some time. I visited you there and then you returned to Lisbon.

We both married and naturally went to each other’s weddings. I remember what a beautiful bride you made in your Chanel-type suit – we had actually looked for models of dresses together and had both decided this was the one – and your blonde hair smartly pulled back in a perfect “chignon”.

You had your first child – a lovely girl – and two years later my son Afonso was born. Once we went to the Azores on a summer holiday together and, while visiting a beautiful lagoon in the midst of a forest, your daughter suddenly kissed an amazed one and a half year old Afonso on the lips and he must have enjoyed it so much that as she moved away he ran after her for more, we supposed, as we all laughed our hearts out.

Then we were pregnant again and when we knew we would have boys we told each other they would be friends. From an early age both our boys – my Pedro and your Diogo – loved being with each other but the incredible things is that, as teenagers – when definitely your friends are those you choose – they are still best friends and we are so happy about it. We usually say “This is the second generation of friendship” and dream that maybe one day, who knows, their children will also become good friends…

Then we separated and divorced in the same year. Again we supported each other and talked for endless hours, and understood each other like no one could…and then we set out on a path of self knowledge at the same time, and yet again we have something that brings us even closer.

But, my dear friend, never closer than when we remember the good old times. Looking back and recalling those sunny, warm, springtime afternoons at Veneziana eating ice cream; running down the University stairs as we saw the 34 bus at the end of the street; getting ready for a party or an evening at the disco; talking about our love lives for hours on end; complaining about the things our elders would not let us do; imagining brilliant careers as powerful lawyers (something none of us became in the end); eternally going on diets as we never found ourselves slim enough; teasing each other about a million and other things; studying so hard together that our heads seemed to burst; celebrating your birthday during those incredible weekends at your country house where we drank considerably more white wine (from your father’s own production) than we should; and, above all, always being there for each other. Then and today.

I have told you that to me you are the closest thing to the sister I never had. You are fun, you are loyal, you are brave – but above all you are a very special person, and my friend for life.

When I hang up the phone I can still hear your laughter and I think how incredible it is that its sound hasn’t changed one bit. It makes it all come back so vividly to me…as Adele sings in her beautiful song: “My God this reminds me /of When we were young”.