The curious life of friendship...

posted on: Thursday, 21 March 2013

You recall how at high school there were always those girls who had lots of friends? I remember them walking the halls, surrounded by their entourage. I was not one of those. I had many friends at school and they split into two camps. One set were made up of girls, who on my first day I leaned towards, mainly to become one of said entourage. I was great friends with three really popular girls and I was always the quieter, bookish, tall one. Unconventional. Story of my life. The second camp was made up of the clever girls with whom I had my lessons. My first group of friends were not in my sets for lessons. These 'clever' girls were of a different sort; serious, bespectacled, they were the doers and always did well in exams, worked hard, were polite to teachers etc. They probably went on to become politicians. Or lawyers. Right now they are probably ruling the world.

Move on to University; the first-day introduction to kindred spirits. I think back now to that day we all met and can remember the near-gravitational pull of wanting to be friends with those girls. They became my bedrock of friends to this day.


Fast forward to motherhood; picture coffee mornings and baby singing. Amongst these tea and biscuit toddler groups I  met women who steered me through those troubled times of weaning and sleep routines. Acutely close through the commonality of babies.

Then my first fledgling years at school pick-up. In retrospect, I had the same awkward gangliness I had in school, but disguised it in power-suits and high heels and I acted as if I was altogether too busy to chat. It took me a long time to work out that this was a facade that saved me from having to engage with these women, whom I found wildly intimidating. Not because they were unpleasant but because  I had no start-point, no back story. Meeting new people is that leap of faith where you have to get past the 'do you like me?' stage. Of course over time, the boundaries came down and now I count those women as some of my best friends; when the chips are down, they are there for me.

There are kindred spirit, go-to-the-end-of-the-earth friends. It just so happens that these friends don't live anywhere near me and that takes its toll. We send each other random, middle-of-my-day-but-had-to-share texts and emails where we say: 'I MISS YOU!' 'WHEN WILL I SEE YOU?' They get increasingly desperate as we struggle to make arrangements six months, even a year ahead, knowing deep down that our commitments at home make it near-on impossible to guarantee that we will come through and actually see each other. But when we do, it is like magic. These friends are the ones who knew me when. Inside out. All of my foibles and oddities they know and love, and despite those things, they are still my friend.

I notice that I think about my friends a lot more than I used to and I have got used to carrying around that slight ache of missing them. I am not sure what can be done about this - I figure it is a common feature of busy women who have marriages, houses, children, jobs, parents, commitments. I never knew that all of the commitments that I spent my thirties accumulating would actually amount to so much of my time and energy. So my new commitment is this: I need to see my friends more. I know it's late for a new year's resolution, but there it is. :-)


White winged dove...

posted on: Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Sometimes nostalgia hits me so hard it makes my heart ache. I wish I was one of those people who wasn't so affected (afflicted?) by the past. If it has been before - it matters to me. The future has a different dimension for me - in truth - I rarely think more than a few days ahead; a week at best. But the past? I have total recall of everything ever. My Dad used to say I had the memory of an elephant. As a child I could conjure up recollections of things that happened years before, effortlessly. The strains of a song - a few bars even - are sufficient for me to go back in time. Like when I hear Stevie Nicks singing 'The Edge of Seventeen' and I am transported to 1980's Floridian holidays, driving down the Gulf Boulevard with windows open and balmy, summer air; family times. I was probably wearing a towelling short-suit from K-Mart or maybe JC Penney...

via crush cul de sac
In fact when it comes to outfits I can also recall exactly what I was wearing (and most other people for that matter) with absolute accuracy. I wish this level of recall had a practical application in my life and was useful. But instead it simply serves to fill my head with outfit choices made by my friends ten or fifteen years ago. And then there are those 'hero' outfits or items that just stand out in memory. Like the penny loafers my friends and I wore at school - complete with a French centime slotted in - in that oh-so-chic (we thought) nod to Parisian fashion. My first ever Mulberry handbag, which I got when I graduated - brown, croc-effect; I wanted it to say 'mature' so I would land one of those swanky graduate jobs fresh out of college.

via crush cul de sac, photograph by pandora
The black satin strapless dress I wore for my thirtieth birthday party - I thought I had reached the height of sophistication! The best ever pair of boots that stayed with me for five years until they wore through to the ground below my feet.

I think a lot about the past and how it made me the way I am. My friend Emma and I were conducting another text discussion in amongst evening kiddy dinners and sips of wine, about growing older. We face our fortieth year. She commented that I had fully considered all of the elements of ageing gracefully and how to look ones best. Healthy hair, subtle colours; no grey. Impeccable dressing choices. Well-groomed. Good fabrics; no thread-bares. Considered jewellery choices - the good stuff. Looking after your skin - moisture and plump. Use facial oil! It all seemed like a lot of hard work when we described it, but in a way I don't mind that. It shows progression to me. Got to keep pressing on :-)

via maddie rose