Friends, Old and New.

This weekend is the weekend for old friends. Women who stood by my side with their make-up melting off of their faces and perspiration running down their legs, while G and I exchanged our vows. It was one of the hottest days in all history in my hometown on the day we married, the groomsmen were not loving their three piece suits. This weekend I will catch up with women I once worked with, giggled with, and shared glasses of bubbles at 4pm on a Friday afternoon, “is it Champagne o’clock yet?” a voice would call across an open planned office. I have a girlfriend flying over from Sydney with a much wanted baby in her tummy, it’s been a year since we saw each other last.

This weekend is a girls weekend.

This weekend we will recap on the bits we’ve missed, while retelling the bits we know. “Can you remember the night…” It is a time to fill in the gaps, to ask the questions that don’t always fit into an email, or tell the stories that can’t be written or said over the phone. I’m working on the playlist for the iPod, the taxi’s been ordered, the restaurant has been booked.

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for months. It’s not just about being child free, it’s about uninterrupted conversations and being able to steal more than just twenty minutes to talk. It’s about reconnecting and refueling friendships, rather than just relying on them always being there.

On the other side of the world, G will be spending his last weekend in Doha before heading back to us here. Last night he sat at a table with some of our new friends, people who have become an automatic assumption in our lives. Names that go on lists for tickets to be bought, dinners to be eaten and reservations to be made. People that G and I have really fallen in love with. I rang G to ask how everyone was “it was so nice to be back together again, we’re so lucky with the friends we’ve made here”.

I’ve spoken about my friends in Doha a little too often this holiday. I’ve told stories of dinners and events, or how good the night at the ceildh was. Friends have politely asked “so where are they from?” or “how do you know them?” The conversation will then move on, because it has no-where to go, we are talking about two different worlds and two different lives, and over the years I have learnt that it’s impossible to mould the two together. My story of the party where Andrew was practicing his childhood speech therapy exercises with his face only inches from the very English speech therapist, are really a had-to-be-there moment.

Earlier this year when I went to Jakarta, I caught up with a friend who’d arranged for a few girlfriends to come over for the afternoon. “I’ve asked my friend Ann-Maree to come because I think you’d really like her” the host explained, she was absolutely right. I saw Anne-Maree another couple of times while I was in Jakarta, and when she mentioned she was coming to Adelaide for a conference in July it felt perfectly natural to invite her to the beach house.

Five months and a few short emails later, the little travelers and I were on our way to pick her up. The children asked how I’d met Ann-Maree and what I liked about her. “I just felt comfortable with her immediately, she’s lived in a few different places, she has two girls the same age as mine, and she’s a great conversationalist. It just felt very comfortable being with her, she felt like an old friend immediately. Plus, she likes to read and she goes to the Writers Festival in Ubud, and I’d like to go there one day”.

When Ann-Maree hopped in the car the third little traveler opened the conversation with “Mum likes you because you like to read”.

When we were driving to the beach Ann-Maree’s phone rang, it was one of her long time friends, a girlfriend she’d had for years. I listened to Ann-Maree explain where she was, “I’m with my new very best friend Kirsty” she giggled. When she hung up she explained how her friend likes to remind her just how long they’ve been friends for when she talks of these “new” friends.

I have old friends who have never seen me pregnant. I have old friends who never saw me juggle and negotiate through full time work and four children. I have old friends who have never seen me speak another language. I have old friends that have never seen me drive on the opposite side of the road, or barter for vegetables in arabic in the middle of a street in Libya.

I have new friends that have only ever known me to be in a relationship with G. I have new friends that never saw me as a single woman in a share house. I have new friends who have never met my parents or sister, friends who possibly are not even sure which part of Australia I’m from.

With new friends you begin from scratch and build it. With old friends you pick up where you left off. I tell the little travelers all the time that they should be excited about the friends they are yet to meet. With each move that we’ve made, I’ve expressed the same excitement as we’ve touched down on new soil “just think of all of those new best friends that are out there that don’t even know you exist. They’re about to meet you!”

In the words of Anais Nin “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born”.

This weekend is a weekend of old friends and I can’t wait, the bubbles are in the fridge, the glasses will be chilled. And at some stage over the weekend when a cork has been popped, I will think of all friends, both near and far.


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