Eggs and baskets.
For the last few months, whenever my mind has wandered, that’s where it’s settled.
Eggs, baskets and the distribution of one into the other. To be more specific, it’s been a constant, internal back-and-forth about whether I’ve thrown so many of my eggs in a single, overflowing basket.
You see, yesterday, one of my best friends in the whole world jumped on a plane and set up camp and soon, a life, in a world where I don’t directly exist. A world where her local coffee shop won’t be one I’ve ever been, her home one I drop by in and her work one I enthusiastically drive-by on days I know she’s bored, but perhaps I’m more so.
It’s a funny thing, the kind of grief you feel for a loss that isn’t one. She’ll always be a phone call away, never more than a message. I’ll visit her and she me and I know our lines of communication will never falter to a point where she wouldn’t know my coffee order had, for example, changed.
And yet, here I am at just 23, wondering whether the intensity of our friendship is the biggest blessing or the deepest curse. Because with strong bonds come keen losses when they move far away. And she’s moving far, far away.
Perhaps I first realised how deeply I would feel her moving when I began to tell my colleagues about it. I began checking myself when I started telling my cousins. And then, well, I started telling my hairdresser. It kept falling out of me at every moment; every wide grin extolling my excitement for her big move concealed a tightly-wound knot that had lodged itself in depths of my stomach. What now?
I’d always make the joke that I’ll feel her loss as much as I’d feel the loss of my own boyfriend moving away (a joke, if he finds himself reading this), so reliant I am on her presence, her kindness, her stupidity and her laugh.
She’s over there. I’m over here. How does friendship work when geography rears its great, big, expansive head?
Of course, the simple answer is that it just does. It works because the bonds you create are the bonds that defy distance. The bonds you create are the kind that allow you to roam free for a little while, before eventually making your way back together.
It’s just that the most inflexible, fearful, lazy part of me isn’t so keen to test it out.
If there’s one thing I’ve found in the strange no-man's land that is the period of early adulthood – the one where love isn't yet the be-all-and-end-all and family a little further away – it’s friendship that’s defined my foray into the real world. For so many of us, in early adulthood, it's our friends who become the walls we fall back on, the ears we rely on and the ones we see ourselves in.
Listen: Sunrise Presenter Edwina Bartholomew has a genius trick for keeping in touch with old friends. (Post continues...)
Because on their shiny, good, blindingly beautiful days, it’s my friendships – and of course, my family – that have kept me treading water when my arms grew tired. It’s the gaggle of girlfriends around me who have carried me through the times I couldn’t myself be bothered, their intricate understanding of our shared experience keeping me warm with their words or their visits or their jokes.
As women, for all we lament certain parts of the female experience, this is where we won. It’s women who have been encouraged to feel, to cry, to hope, to think out loud. It’s women who have been encouraged to share. And so, with permission from every societal expectation placed upon us, the bonds we formed were fierce. We shared, we cried, we hoped. We still do.
Our friendships can be one of the best parts of our existence.
I imagine, of course, distance and geography and funky timezones don't change that. I imagine we adjust, we bend, we work with all we have. I imagine it to be this way, because I imagine there aren't many people in this world who don't have someone they love on the other side of it.
And so for every moment my mind has wandered to the eggs, the baskets and the streams of energy I've invested in the handful of relationships I value most, I've come to the gentle realisation that perhaps that's not a bad thing at all.
The basket is still pretty full. She's just taking some of it with her for a little while.