This weekend I spent 38 hours travelling in order to spend 36 hours (two nights and a day) at a friend's house in Northern Ireland. The journey was so long because I drove and took the ferry so I could show my car (a classic MG) in the annual parade in their town.
New Man chose not to come on this occasion - he couldn't get Friday off work and so would have had to fly out and join us on Saturday morning. It was the first weekend we hadn't seen each other since I came back from the US in early June.
It was an expensive trip, and now I'm exhausted and really not ready for what's going to be a VERY busy week at work.
So was it worth it?
Well, as soon as I arrived, just after 8:00 on Friday evening, my friend's six-year-old daughter rushed out to greet me, and after giving me a huge hug, she danced around me excitedly as I retrieved my bag from the car. I had plenty more hugs from the children in the course of the weekend, and enjoyed playing with them and listening to their excited chatter.
I've been over there a number of times before, and know several of my friend's friends quite well. On Saturday evening, she had invited a selection of them round for a barbecue to celebrate my engagement and my birthday (which is tomorrow).
For the 36 hours I was there, I knew that I was totally welcome. The people who came to the barbecue were all happy to hear the news of my engagement and wanted to share my happiness. They're all eager to meet New Man and made me promise to bring him over to meet them as soon as I can.
It's not always easy to keep in touch with our friends. Other things get in the way - our own family life, the physical distance between us, work commitments, cost... But this particular friend and I have seen each other through some fairly major events, some happy, some sad, some absolutely devastating, as well as countless minor events. We have a shared history and can talk about anything to each other, and each of us knows that if we were in trouble, the other would do everything in her power to help. If you find a friend like that who's really worth keeping, sometimes it's worth making a special effort to show them how important they are to you.
It may be a cliche, but it's my 1-year-old nephew's favourite song:
Make new friends,
But keep the old.
One is silver
And the other gold.