It was on 17 September 2007 that I first met Charlie and Sarah. We were stood in a line outside what was to be our new classroom on the art foundation course we’d all applied for. Fresh from a post-A-level summer full of nervous excitement about embarking on adult life, we stood chatting awkwardly, twiddling pencils and fiddling with bag straps. “Where are you from?” “Are you staying in London?” “Do you want to have lunch together?”
Quickly – in fact, almost immediately – we became inseparable. A tight threesome, we laughed, danced and drank our way through the foundation year, following each other on to do degrees at the same art college. Sarah and I moved into a flat together; Charlie had a permanent residence on our sofa, which was a disgusting shade of chocolate brown. One night, we all got drunk on cheap gin and tonic and I, having held a Saturday job at a hair salon, decided to give them both haircuts. One of them ended up with an asymmetric fringe, the other with a cropped bowl cut, which she actually carried off pretty well. Thank God we were 20 and at art school, where anything went.
About to turn 21 and completely addicted to Sex And The City (we were all Carrie), we decided to club together and get each other gold necklaces with our names on it for our birthdays, just like our idol. Sarah got hers first, being an early December baby, followed by me and then, a few months later, Charlie. We got exactly the same style, thickness and chain length as each other – three peas in a pod and with the jewellery to prove it.
Our necklaces stayed on throughout our degrees, surviving great nights out, crappy dates, several all-nighters before project deadlines and a godawful final year when we hardly ate or slept. We graduated together in our necklaces and got our first jobs in our necklaces. I moved in with a boy in my necklace and then, years later, broke up with him in it. Sarah, Charlie and their necklaces packed my stuff up into the back of a Fiat and drove me across London, wiping my heartbroken tears as we went.
Sarah moved country, Charlie fell in love, we stopped sleeping top to toe after a night out, but we all got through our twenties, necklaces and friendships intact.
I stopped wearing my necklace three years ago. I’d taken it off and stuffed it into my dressing-gown pocket only to forget, wash the dressing gown and break the chain. It has sat in a little box on my bedroom shelf until a couple of weeks ago when, over dinner, it came up in conversion. “Remember those necklaces we had?” “Bit tacky, really.” “Have you still got yours?” We did. The following day, I took my broken chain to get fixed.
Now that we’ve all turned 30, our jewellery tastes have changed somewhat. But while necklaces spelling out our names no longer feel like the coolest thing on earth, mine continues to be one of my favourite pieces of jewellery. Every time I look at it, I think about my friends. I think about the day we met, the laughs we’ve had, the tears we’ve shared, the arguments we’ve endured and the supportive, loving, sunny relationship that I am lucky enough to be part of.
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