One of the (many) miracles that has occurred since I quit drinking is the number of old friends who have reappeared in my life.
These are friends I'd thought lost for ever, who I hadn't seen or heard from for twenty or thirty years and yet, through a series of chance encounters and coincidences, they are back, and this time I'm hanging on.
It's awesome. I feel like an battered old jigsaw puzzle that for decades has had a few key pieces missing, but gradually they're being slotted back into place.
The latest of these lost friends is V. We were great mates at Cambridge University. We did the May Balls, punting and double dates. We got each other through the trauma of Finals. We went on holiday together. And yet, just a few years after we graduated, we totally lost touch.
Looking back, it was entirely my fault.
The last time we saw each other properly was at V's flat. She'd invited me to a dinner party with her and her boyfriend (now husband), and about five other guests.
I'd just started dating a man (boy?) who I was totally besotted by. He wanted me to join him and some other friends in a nightclub in Notting Hill. He kept calling me on my newly acquired mobile 'phone (they were a rare and miraculous thing in those days). I kept leaving the dinner table, mid conversation, to take his calls.
As soon as dinner was finished, perhaps before, I hotfooted it to the club. I barely said goodbye. I'm quite sure I never sent a thank you letter.
The truth is I was far too caught up in a whirlwind of booze, romance and danger, and V, with her steady relationship, serious career and grown up life, just wasn't on my wavelength.
Needless to say, she didn't call me again. I don't think I even noticed until a year or two had passed by. Then I shrugged and moved on.
I know what you're thinking: I was not a very nice person. I agree.
Anyhow, another old University friend who I've re-met recently, and who has rapidly become one of my besties all over again, bumped into V last weekend, and she's invited me round for tea.
To be honest, had I received this invitation back in the drinking days I would have been terrified. I probably wouldn't have gone.
I loathed seeing people I'd not seen for years. I hated the way their eyes would widen involuntarily before they had a chance to manage the outward displays of the shock of seeing me two stone heavier.
I was conscious of the fact that I'd always been a hugely optimistic, ambitious live wire, yet now I.... wasn't. I was depressed and bitter.
But now? I'm thrilled. I can't wait to catch up.
Incredibly, I'm back to my university weight, so look more like my old self than I have for decades. No more embarrassing silences followed by "You look really.... well." (Code for: "You look a bit.... fat.")
(See my post: Reasons to Quit Drinking #1: Weight Loss)
And, more importantly, I've rediscovered my joie de vivre. In short, I am me again.
I'm also a much better friend. The last year has really taught me the value of strong friendships and I'm not messing up this time.
So hurrah! And happy sober weekends to you all!