Several months ago I received an email from a friend I haven’t seen for over 20 years. The delight I felt on reading her excited hello was incredible. We’d been best friends in primary school, went to ballet lessons together, played mud pies in the back yard and shared endless giggles over stupid things. Then her family moved 400 kilometres away to Adelaide.
We still kept in touch, although not frequently due to distance and the horrendous cost of STD phone calls back then. I did catch up when I went to university and attended her gorgeous backyard wedding, but for some reason after that the connection broke. Not for any real reason, just life I suppose. She moved to Darwin, I moved to Victoria, and our worlds were filled with other distractions and adventures.
But the funny thing is, with a single email, it was as if all those missing years had been swept away and we were back firm friends again. It also set me thinking about friendship, about how special friendships endure despite time and distance.
It’s a subject I’ve talked about with other friends before. My partner is in the military, which means we move around. A lot. Interstate, and one lucky time overseas. My friends are scattered over the country and world, and there are times when I don’t see them for years. Sometimes we’re out of contact for extended periods, which sounds the antithesis of friendship. Yet it’s not. Not for these special people. The moment we’re back in touch we simply pick up where we left off.
This kind of confidence in a relationship is a lovely thing to have. I feel blessed by it. And grateful. Oh, so grateful. My life would be terribly lonely without this safety net. Close friendships take time to develop and if you’re only posted to a place for 12 months, it’s hard to not only to open connections but to keep them. Some people can be reluctant to invest heavily in someone who won’t be around for long, which is why those precious far-off friends are even more important.
Yet there is so much I miss out on. The days out shopping with an old friend - the one who’s not afraid to say that the purple skinny jeans I’m eyeing off will make me look like an elephant - that many other women get to indulge in rarely happens for me. A gathering of the girls for lunch, the same. The spontaneous phone call saying let’s catch a film or check out that new art exhibition is impossible when your friends are a thousand kilometres or more away.