Older, Wiser.

A very close girlfriend came to stay a couple of weeks ago. She’s close close. Stand next to me while I get married close. It was one of those girlfriend moments of comfort, her standing in front of the mirror in the kids bathroom, me in my bedroom; both of us getting ready for the day but simultaneously sticking our heads out through the door to keep the conversation going while teeth brushing and face moisturizing. I handed over a new BB cream I’d been given by The Bodyshop which I love. “Try this, I love this…”

“My face has dropped” she sighed as she looked into the mirror  “I’ve just noticed it lately, it had to happen sometime right?” she sounded slightly peeved but resigned to the fact that her face was changing.

I laughed, her face is gorgeous. It looked just fine to me, but I knew what she meant. We met nearly twenty years ago, we both look a little different.

“I hate this bit” I said pointing to the permanent indentation that now sits under my chin. “I sit at the traffic lights and move my skin around to where I think it should be. Getting old sucks”.

We both laughed.

Getting old doesn’t always suck though. Getting older has allowed me great moments of clarity on this trip home. What I may have lost in the elasticity of my skin I’ve gained in the malleability of my mind. Age has provided the comfort of truly enjoying my friends, they don’t have to share the same beliefs, they just have to be my friends.

It has taken me twelve years of coming home to finally work out how to do this thing properly. How not to be pulled from pillar to post. How not to be disappointed. How not to get caught up in the disappointment of the priorities of others.

It has taken twelve years to gain the peace that comes with realizing you will do what you can with the people you love. On this trip in particular I’ve had revelations on what works for us as a family. I’ve sat with old friends, warm in the comfort of familiarity and genuine friendship, smiling at faces that I’ve loved for years while the little travellers have raced around outside making childhood memories. I rolled through the itinerary with a girlfriend “I’m here this weekend, then at my parents, then it’s Melbourne, then back to Renmark and then a couple of weekends after that G will be here…”

“That’s not enough time, we don’t have enough time, you’ll be gone…” it came straight from the heart. This is the friend who arrived on day two with a cooler bag filled with a home cooked meal, cheese, dips and crackers, a home-made cake, and a bag of mandarins. Over the weekend she stood in my kitchen with a tea towel in her hand and cheeky banter flying off her tongue “Just tell me to shut up” she said “I’d understand if you did. That’s what good friends do” she smirked.  I don’t ever want her to shut up, our friendship is real, it has been for over twenty five years.

I listened as friends spoke of a mutual friend’s father’s funereal. My heart tugging with the details. I’ve giggled at the breakfast bar with an old family friend. I’ve sat in the car with an Aunt as we made our way to the park. And a couple of days ago I sat outside in the sunshine giggling with an old friend on the phone. We talked because we could, and we will keep talking until one of us dies.

Trips home are always too short. “We don’t have enough time, you’ll be gone…” We’re getting older, smarter, time with a true friend is time spent wisely.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15026987107815016616 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

    Gerat post – and the picture is particularly wonderful. I’ve never understood why older people obsess about getting younger skin when their faces are so full of stories.

    I think women are better at close friends than men – we understand and enjoy are mutual challenge. I wonder if men get lost in competitiveness while we learned long ago that life is more fun if we face it together.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15026987107815016616 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

    This is my first time commenting, I just love your blog. Timely words for me- I’ve just moved back to Australia after years as an expat and am going back to the UK for 6 days. I’ve been losing sleep about upsetting people who I just can’t get to see. I write them emails explaining the tight schedule and it just sounds lame. Maybe I could spend 1 night each in places east, west, north and south? Or maybe I’ll just be exhausted and won’t get quality time with anyone. Have you ever lost a friend over not being able to fit them in?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15026987107815016616 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

    Rachel, I hear you – it is impossible to fit everything in. My only advice is to maybe find a location where you can bring everyone to at the same time. Don’t try and squeeze in visiting everyone, it never works and you’ll be constantly packing up and moving on feeling like you just didn’t have enough time. Also, think about who is really important and stick with the plans of those you really care about. In the early days I would try and catch up with everyone EVERYONE – not anymore. xx

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15026987107815016616 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

    Just came back from a trip home. Know what you mean.