I have a confession to make. The Short One that appears in this blog isn’t my first short friend. There’s been a series of them.
There’re not many 6ft tall women. I was always tall. Always thought to be older than I was as a child because I was the height of most kids 2-3 years older than me. It didn’t really bother me. My mum always taught me to be proud of my height and I still am. It has its disadvantages (clothes, shoes, boyfriends) and its advantages (reaching high shelves, always having a decent view at a gig).
What does come as a result of being this tall is that you’re pretty much always taller than your mates. I don’t really notice it that often. It’s only when we can’t get a seat in the pub or I stand directly next to a particularly diminutive person and find myself actively looking down or unable to make out the conversation 6 inches below me, that I realise the difference.
It’s no massive surprise then that throughout my life I’ve always had friends that are shorter than me. What does seem to have happened though has been a penchant for shorter than average people as my closest friends. I can think of a good few throughout primary and secondary school and into university.
Upon meeting Mik, who I’m now referring to as The Original Short One, my Mum said “Oh Suzanne, why do you always bring such short friends home?”. It was a candid observation, she’s not heightest, honest!
Not all of these compact buddy’s can quite be honoured with the official title of The Short One though. I realised recently that the Original and the Current, whilst quite different, have an awful lot in common.
They are both rather chatty. They balance out my propensity for listening and quietness when I first meet people. They could both be described as extroverts as opposed to my more introverted nature. They are both utterly honest and willing to shamelessly, but kindly, take the mick out of me, whilst also taking the return in good humour. And of course they are both short, somewhere around the 5ft3/5ft4 mark (I’m sure they’ll both correct me if I’m wrong).
But the big thing I recently realised they have in common is a willingness to jump in cold water with me.
I first met and quickly became friends with The Original Short One on a field trip to Mount Etna in our 3rd year at university. As you’d expect of a geology field trip populated by 20 year old’s, there was much boozing and foolishness as well as lots of looking seriously at lava flows with stinking hangovers.
There was another treat as well though. One afternoon, whilst pondering igneous minerals, we had the chance to swim in a gorge. It was absolutely bloody freezing! Most of the boys bailed after two minutes but a few of us hardier girls stayed in. That first experience of whooping, squealing and wincing but still enjoying the cold.
It happened again on another field trip. A random jump in a snowmelt gushing waterfall in our underwear. Dipping in rivers on another trip to the Peak District.
I wasn’t an “open water swimmer” back then, I’m not even sure there was such a name for it then. But I suppose I’ve always had an affinity for water and some kind of odd willingness to get cold in order to enjoy it. And these two Short One’s enable me!
The Original Short One now lives in the States. We have our own families and lives. Until last weekend we hadn’t seen each other in three years and hadn’t spoken on the phone for two. But as with true, proper friends, it didn’t matter.
On Saturday I headed to her mums (another welcome that came as if I’d never been away) and we went out for lunch. Just us. No kids, no husbands, no extended family. We chatted, we laughed, we ate too much food, we made old ladies sat next to us in the cafe blush.
We went and sat by a lake and watched the ducks. I managed not to spontaneously jump in. Huddled under two blankets, arm in arm, with a set of crutches (she almost broke her leg the second day she was over here!) we looked like two old ladies. The only thing that was missing was a tartan flask and maybe some shortbread. It didn’t matter that we weren’t adventuring like we used to we were just enjoying each other’s company in the same way we had in our twenties.
I look forward to many more blanket laden old lady trips but she’s promised next time I see her she won’t try and break her leg and she’ll definitely come and dunk in some cold water with me. Love you Mik xxx