I had a friend in primary school who was the yin to my yang, the fish to my chips, my side-by-side-through-thick-and-thin, sister-from-another-mister BFF. When we left school she and her family moved to France, which seemed like an awfully long way away for two girls at the tender age of eleven. But we didn’t let this newfound distance between us get in the way of our forever friendship. We gobbled up every last penny of our parents’ phone bills, wrote long emails and colourfully decorated letters, and spent summers together lounging in the southern French sunshine and having adventures in the woods and hills of England.

One summer when I was visiting her, I’d taken with me The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares as a bit of holiday reading. I loved all that sort of teen fiction when I was that age, and I would read a few chapters every night and then fill BFF in on what had happened, so she followed the story as I read it. If you don’t know it, the book follows the adventures of four best friends who are about to spend their first summer apart. One of them finds this pair of old jeans and they discover that they’re a perfect fit for all of four of them despite their different sizes. They decide to share the ‘magic’ jeans between them over the summer, so that each girl has them for one week before sending them on to the next person. BFF and I loved the story, and decided that we wanted to do something similar. That week we went to the local market and picked out a little silver ring decorated with a Yin Yang symbol. We’d each keep the ring for a month and then send it enclosed in a letter for the other.

Sadly this didn’t last forever. I received a letter from BFF one day that had been damaged in the post – there was a rip in the corner of the envelope, and the ring was gone. But later that year BFF visited Italy and bought a new ring, which she sent to me as a present and I have worn every day ever since.

Stuff like this might seem corny to many, but I really adore anything that holds sentimental value. I am a hoarder. I have boxes all over the place full of letters, postcards, friendship bracelets, train tickets, plane tickets, receipts, trinkets, whatsits and thingamabobs. When I move to Réunion one of the most important things I will take with me is a huge stack of photos to stick up on my bedroom wall. Stuff like this isn’t just stuff, it’s people and places and memories.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. 2,996 people lost their lives on that day in 2001, and thousands more had their lives changed forever when they lost beloved friends and family members. Life is precious. Friends are precious. Cherish every moment spent with the people you love. And start hoarding.

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