When I graduated from university in 1997, my most cherished achievements were a Bachelor of Arts degree, the ability to scratch together a meal for myself and up to four other people, and a lifelong friendship with someone I met on Day One.
We were both reading and majoring in English literature, but her minor subject was music and mine, after dabbling inquisitively in the waters of psychology and law, was philosophy.
The university I attended encouraged its students to give otherwise unconsidered subjects a try; certainly, when applying, I had never expected to be learning about Circuit Judges and the British propensity for using 'and' or 'against' to cite the two parties in cases such as Kramer v. Kramer (a practice which I privately considered to be lacking the legal drama and impact of the American 'versus' or shortened 'v.').
I had nurtured the briefest of flirtations with the profession of law in my teens - largely influenced by my love for the television series LA Law, which provided a glamorous, exciting, frenetic vision of lawyering that my week's work experience at a local solicitor's firm at the age of 15 fabulously failed to epitomise.
Ironically enough, the vast majority of my usefulness that week revolved around secretarial and admin work...
I enjoyed the psychology aspect of my first year but ultimately the content was too scientific to hold me in its thrall long term.
Philosophy was scarcely more successful, but as I was only required to study two units in that sphere my apathy didn't perplex me unduly.
My heart lay with English literature, the subject through which my friend and I, although only sharing classes infrequently, bonded over course texts - in those bygone days when texts meant written works of literary merit rather than phone messages - the low-down on tutors, and essay stress.
Although we had relocated from different ends of the country - she hails from Huddersfield - and had diverse family situations - she had an elder sister and three younger brothers to my one sibling - we found enough in common to become firm friends.
As the only two Catholics in a long corridor of girls, though by no means fastidiously faithful we attended the multi-denominational service together in the campus chapel on occasion.
She was funny, an expert pianist, able not to take herself too seriously, and graciously willing to overlook any deficiencies in the latter area in my character.
Most importantly, in the second year of uni life, when we had failed to secure accommodation close to the campus and lived two bus rides away, she owned a car in which she was occasionally persuaded to ferry my indolent self to lectures - a friend worth keeping, I'm sure you'll agree.
She spent a couple of years in the Bay not too long after graduation, working as a music teacher and supporting me as I navigated the tempestuous seas of first-time motherhood.
I sang at her wedding, she is the Godmother to one of my children.
Over the years we have shared everything from an extra slice of cheesecake at Pizza Hut to our 40th birthday celebrations; my friend's, earlier in the year than mine, was a trip down memory lane for both of us.
Her husband had contacted close kith and kin some time in advance, inviting each to arrange a surprise event for a designated month of the year.
After racking my brain for the April slot, I hit upon the perfect way to mark her birthday and 22 years of friendship - a return to our alma mater.
I shared the plan with her husband, who guarded the clandestine destination jealously until the fateful day arrived when he bundled her into the car and drove her to the university city.
During our student days, a couple of our friends were gainfully employed in a fancy hotel near the campus; it was there we headed with our husbands to spend a weekend reminiscing and revisiting old haunts.
These days, we try to see each other twice a year. Covid put paid to that in 2020, but this year we have firm summer plans, when I shall be experiencing the delights of airbnb for the first time.
From uni days to sunny getaways, our friendship has stood the test of time.
Here's to another 27 years of friendship, and to good friends everywhere; they are worth their weight in gold. Especially if they own a car.
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