I was pondering the nature of friendships the other day, and how they are forged. In particular I was thinking about how we make new friends as adults. But while considering that (as I wavered over whether emailing a new acquaintance with a coffee invitation was too ‘forward’, but that is a post for another time…), I began thinking about some of the oldest friends I have.
I was lucky enough to meet some sweet girls in my primary school days, who have subsequently grown into incredible women. There are three, in fact, who have been by my side since the very first day I was ushered into my new classroom in Standard 4, part-way through the year. A new recruit from South Africa, straight from the convent, and here I was in a class with boys. Good lord, what is this madness?
We joke now that Mrs Name I Can’t Remember Because Clearly I Was Traumatised By The Sheer Cacophony of Noise in The Classroom, Not To Mention the Sock Smell, clearly told these three dutiful and polite 11 year olds that they should be friends with The New Girl and look after her. Luckily for me, she obviously never came back and told them their work was done. So here we are, half way through our 3rd decade of cahoots, and I am still so blessed to have them looking after me. Thank you Mrs What Was Your Name. And thank you, dutiful sweet lovelies, I am very grateful you took your instructions so seriously, as I would be equally seriously lost without you.
Looking back on the earlier years of friendship, it seems that the most important consideration of our lives at the time was what treats were most appropriate for midnight snacks for sleepovers. But looking at us now, we are all so different.
One of us was smart enough to meet the man who was to become her Hubsand at the ripe old age of 16. So I guess you could also figure we’ve been lucky enough to have him as a friend for that long too. There’s been heartache and celebration, bravery and strength. And now there are five of them, including two of the cutest godsons in the history of the world. She is my voice of reason, the purveyor of down-to-earth advice, and one of the most honest and straight-up lovelies around. There will always be considered advice – even though it sometimes may not be what you want to hear, it’s usually just what you need.
One of us was destined to be a domestic goddess with a gaggle of littles of her own. Life sometimes doesn’t work out the way destiny had in mind. But there has been travel and adventures and now, even though it may not have come in the package we’d all thought it would, there is the start of a family. She has incredible style and a total flair for creative endeavours. She can make beauty out of nothing at all, and also has the dirtiest sense of humour you’d ever meet.
The third of us is a wonder woman almost in another league entirely. She’s sassy and fiery, an amazing mum and incredible friend. She’s clever and smart (not always the same thing), caring and loyal. She’s been through her own journey close to hell and back, yet you’d never know to meet her. Godson #3 is also the sweetest creation in the universe, ranking right up there with his Older Brother, the Southern Man’s partner in nerf-gun-related crime.
Through the high school years, friendships were built around shared timetables, shared crushes on inappropriate boys on the school bus, shared passions for boy bands with questionable musical talents, and shared desperation for the latest Country Road cable knit sweater or spiral perm (yes, showing my age here, I know). But nothing brings teenage girls closer together than Discovering Boys.
Seriously, those first boyfriends in our teenage years? What were we thinking? OK, to be fair, our collective first boyfriends were pretty good options as far as such things go. The over-reliance on Barkers trackpants as items of cool attire aside, they were sweet. Even the second round participants were acceptable by most standards. But by the Boyfriend Mark III period, the three of us who hadn’t been as on-to-it as Miss ‘Who Meets The Love of Their Life at Red Cross Search & Rescue Training As An After School Activity?…Oh Yes, That’s Right, I Do’ had quite the run of what can only be considered to be Dire Lapses of Taste.
The angst! The dramas! The confusion and tears! And that was just from the boys. Throw in to the mix studying, first jobs, first travels, first flats….we muddled through it together as we got out the other side of early adulthood. We lived close by, we lived far away from each other. We were at the same stage at the same time….we were poles apart in lifestyle and life stage (still are, in a few ways). And yet through it all, there is that commonality and total acceptance. I guess when you’ve held each other’s hair back over the sink after your collective first underage drinking effort, mopped up each other’s tears over inappropriate men, and star in each others school ball photos (complete with a lot of shiny satin and too-high heels), there’s not a lot that can get in the way.
And for that, I am truly grateful. Thank you, Mrs Whatsyourname, your off-handed instruction to these three girls has left me with true soul sisters. May they never figure out that the teacher’s instruction no longer has to hold.