the small things

9 February 2021

I miss the people who were my unspoken friends. The smiles and gentle nods we would share when seeing each other across a lecture hall, in a seminar together once in first year and now always a friendly, distant face to see. I miss the little bonds of friendship, walking out of a seminar together and exchanging a few words; about the texts we just read and plans for the weekends, saying goodbye until next week. Now when I see somebody I recognise from a seminar there is no hello, as we have only met virtually. How can we be sure this is the same person as the pixelated face we see on screen each week? Surely they are not that tall in real life? I miss going to the library and seeing the same people, knowing their spots and wondering if they consider me their library friend as well. I miss seeing the same people around campus and forging momentary friendships that would be forgotten until I saw them again when we would exchange a quick smile, never words, but an acknowledgement of our routines making us cross paths every week. I miss the people who I would only ever speak to drunk in the smoking area, and when bumping into one another on campus only a small hello would be said. 

The brief interactions that amounted to small friendships in my mind were not something I thought I would miss so greatly. I knew I would miss going to clubs and pubs, that I would miss chatting shit with a strangers at parties, forgetting their name the next day but remembering that they were definitely fanciable. I knew I would long for the days I could ask my friends if they were on campus and to meet for lunch, that I would miss spontaneous trips to cafes with course friends who I rarely saw. I did not anticipate missing the small things so much though. It may be naivety, or simply an attempt to live a more positive life, but to me university has always been a friendly community of struggling students. We share smiles and nods because the work load is tough and we don’t know what other people are going through. On campus we can rely on the friendliness of one another; at the library we could ask to borrow a pen or a charger, if you borrow a lighter off someone you can have small talk too if you want, you can ask others where their clothes are from, compliment their style and their hair without knowing one another. But now those acts of community are gone and it makes me sad. I am sad that my final year of university has changed so much in ways that I didn’t anticipate. I have wonderful friends but I miss the false friendships, the small relationships that may have meant nothing to the other party but to me were a staple of university life. 

I am lucky that my University and particularly my department of study have done so much to ensure students do not miss out on so much of the University life. I am grateful that even through lockdown we have been able to go to the library, even though no amount of online remedies seem to stop my mask from fogging up my glasses, I am grateful that I get to live with my friends. But I just never anticipated how much I would miss the small things, or how much I would regret not savouring the small moments of friendship more. 

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