Sir Ken Robinson believed that we are educated out of creativity. We are born with a curiosity and sense of wonder that fosters creativity and then we go to school and we become tools to regurgitate what we are fed, adding nothing of our own to it. That’s on education. On friendship, I think we are born more open to a world of all the possible connections we can make with people and as we get older, we get ‘creative’ in our interactions which limits the connections we make. That creativity is what led to words like my inner circle, your tribe, my tights, her gangos, his squad et al – defined and closed-off subsets of a world of people, some with members who would do anything to keep the group intact and undiluted.

Sharon did not care about Peter’s status, what family he came from, what he carried for break meals nor even his grades. All she knew was that they were friends, really close buddies. This was only Primary Two (P2). They would retire from school and head over to Peter’s family’s house and play there on-end without a care in the world. This playtime was only interrupted when Sharon’s mom would come to pick her as the sun went down, Sharon and Peter oblivious of the time or the worries of the next day. There was nothing to worry about. The only record worth noting each day was how much fun they had had that after-school play day.

They went on to finish primary school. Peter joined a boys-only school. She joined a school that admitted both boys and girls. She was a bubbly and friendly person. They both made new friends. No one reached out to the other. Each of them thoughts it was natural because of the distance. Life happens. They both had grown and changed. High School was done in no time, never having heard from each other. By university, the world was abuzz with social media. One day, as she scrolled idly on Facebook, there he was. He was fond of having monikers. She was reading a story she thought was hilarious and decided to visit the account to put a picture to the name of the author. It was Peter going by a name she had never heard of. She left him a private message and they got to chatting.

Sharon had different circles and squads by then. She would often chill with one crew to the bars for quiz nights. She had a Rotary fellowship every week with a different squad. She had a clique with whom they travelled to different places – the Balambuzi. She had quite the social life. These cliques often times spilled into each other – some belonged to all and others to a few. One thing was sure though, if you stayed around long enough, you met and knew everyone. She also was a regular at her local church. The people at her church did not understand how she kept up with all those different circles. In fact, they preached and believed that a person is the sum of the five people they spend time with. Sharon did not have five, she had a community of people. She would often find herself in debates with people challenging them on how they will reach out to the ‘unchurched’ if the only people they had for friends were in the four walls of the church. That debate would never end.

At first, the chats between Peter and Sharon were few and far between. It can be hard to pick up from where you left off over fifteen before then. Each of them thought the other was too busy or maybe they did not chat much. Sharon had always been intentional. She did not belong to that many circles by chance. She asked for a physical meeting and his contact. They agreed on a time and a place.

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon. The sun was out to play. The weather dictated the ensemble of the day. Cue the shorts and shades. Peter arrived at the venue but did not say he had. His eyes roved behind his shades, beholding different shades of beauty that sauntered by. Their location of choice attracted them. She called his number and asked how far out he was. When he said he had been waiting a little, they realized that they had both been waiting in different sections of the premises. The usual questions to help identify a stranger followed. “What color top are you wearing?” “What table are you seated at?” The questions yielded nothing, like they both did not know colors or basic directions.

“Let’s meet at the counter, okay?” he said

“Okay,’ she replied.

They both cannot explain how time flew by so quickly but the bright and lively sun under which they walked to meet had gone to bed as they talked. That did not stop them. It was a weekend and it seemed like neither of them had made other plans. All the groups Sharon belonged to were on mute that day. That reckless abandon with which they played had stayed with them but this time as conversation. They wanted to cover each and everything they had missed over the years. They giggled and guffawed – their combined laughter big and loud enough to fill a room. They were sucked into many years of missed memories and they were determined to close that gap with gab. A time was had.

Time and chance had brought them back together but soon enough, it was time to retire. It was well into the next day. The kids that once played to no-end at the end of a school day had that day played for hours and hours long after school. The conversation continued as they headed back to their residences and even further into the night thanks to all the messaging options. Peter had learned of the many circles Sharon had in her life. He joked about which one she would fit him in to which she said, “You and I are a separate squad.”

“Bwahahahahaha,” they both guffawed.

Sharon had a way of knowing many people and making each of them feel special. She did not have to choose some and discard the rest like her church friends thought she should. She had a knack for making new friends and reconnecting with the old. People come in all shades, Friends come in all shades. Some come and later leave. C’est la vie!  Maybe not all the people in the world are your cup of tea but five is too few to pick from billions. Or maybe if you cannot pick out five individuals, have five different squads, circles, gangos and tights. How’s that creativity?