I don’t get Facebook memories. By that I don’t mean I don’t understand it (the concept isn’t that hard to grasp, even for my tiny mind), or that I don’t remember anything Facebook-related (I remember… everything). For some reason, I am just not allowed that feature. Denied. I have a secondary Facebook account that I use for work, and that is allowed the ‘On This Day’ feature, even though work Amanda is boring and has nothing worth remembering anyway. In the grand scheme of things it’s not a problem, and really it only bothers me because other people are allowed it and I am not, for no reason. No reason.

So I like being tagged in other people’s memories even more than I might do otherwise, and I’m sure I’d quite like it anyway as any attention is good attention. But the other day I tagged in a Memory, that to me, was a little bit extra special.

My friend Mark who lives in Cumbria tagged me in surprise to share a notification that he and I had been Facebook friends for seven years.

Seven years!

Seven years ago I was living in a different country, and I was as lonely as a girl could be. I was trying to write a novel, and had deliberately hermitted myself in an attempt to do that. I thought if I didn’t interact with anyone, I would be able to focus totally on the novel, and it would be easy peasy. I quite liked my own company, and a writer was something I really, really wanted to be. But actually, days spent on my own didn’t do me much good at all. I was beginning to think it was reasonable to start the day with a large g+t instead of eating breakfast, and then for lunch I’d have another g+t. And whilst I was spending my days getting drunk, what I wasn’t doing was writing. Instead I was willy-wallying aorund on the internet. All my friends were at work during the day, like normal people, so I couldn’t even chat to them via skype or Facebook. I joke about it now, but actually, looking back I was at the top of a slippery slope.

Then one morning I got up, had my breakfast g+t and decided, inexplicably, to do a Facebook search for some guy I went to primary school with.  There was no reason to look for him. No reason. It was a transparent attempt to avoid writing. So I looked for him, found a chap who looked about the right age, and fired off a message asking if he’d had the misfortune to go to primary school with me. Again, I have no idea why I did that. We weren’t even good friends at primary school. I hadn’t tried to get back in touch with anyone else from primary school. He’d even left when I was about eight, and I’d barely thought of him since.

Then I promptly forgot all about it, until a day later when a very polite message turned up in my inbox. He was not the Mark I was looking for, but he wished me luck in my search. I was relieved. I don’t know what I would have said to that other Mark.

“I thought as much,” I told him. “Of all the Marks out there, you looked the most likely, but even so I knew it was a long shot. Thank you for getting back to me anyway.”

I thought that was that, until another message appeared.

“Bloody hell! how many are there?? and there was me thinking I was special.”

I smiled, and replied. And he replied. And I replied. And suddenly, my days were less lonely. I looked forward to talking to my new friend. I told him about my book. He asked to read it. He said he loved it, and ended up reading the whole thing. The only reason he was able to read the whole thing was because once he got half way through I started to panic because it wasn’t finished and I had implied it was. Every night I would desperately try to finish another chapter so I could send it to him in the morning, and every evening without fail he would tell me what he thought, bits he liked, bits he didn’t, bits he thought could be improved.

I put the gin back on the shelf and forgot about it.

Eventually I started telling him more personal details. About the relationship I was in that wasn’t really working, but that I didn’t have the guts to admit was over. He was blunt, and told me I was being an idiot. I was. It ended. Mark told me things would be okay.

They were.

I told my sister about him, and she looked at his picture on Facebook.

“He’s handsome,” she said.

I did a double take.

“Yeah… he is,” I said, somewhat surprised. I had never thought of him in that way. Almost from the get go he’d been like a brother. The kind of brother I’d always wanted; supportive, funny, affectionate. He didn’t shy away from telling me I was being stupid, any more than he did when he told me he thought I was worth more.

I told him when I met Ian and he was thrilled for me. He invited me to his wedding, but I was too shy to go. I phoned him when Ian proposed, and he phoned me when his gorgeous wife got pregnant with their first child.

And the other day he tagged me in a Facebook memory that said we’d been friends for seven years. And in all that time, we have never met face to face. Only Facebook to Facebook.

So thank you Facebook. Whilst you haven’t given me Facebook Memories, you have given me real memories I wouldn’t be without.

And thank you Mark, for making me write a novel and for being the big bro I always wanted 🙂 xxx


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