The soundtrack to the best and worst times in my life this year has been the steady ping of Whatsapp messages arriving on my phone. Early in the morning and late into the night. These sounds and the words they heralded, have cheered me on and cheered me up. These days, Whatsapp is where my friends and I gather together for better and worse.
When I was younger, my friendships took place mostly at school and on the phone. As I grew up and expanded my circle, I gathered with different groups of friends in different places. Sleepovers, the beach, the shops, parks (at night mostly, to furtively drink alcohol and kiss boys), then eventually when we had fake ID, bars and nightclubs. In my twenties, I’d often go on holidays or travel with friends. And there were always parties. More bars and clubs. Barbeques came next and as our twenties spilled into our thirties, we hung out at engagement parties and weddings and hens nights and baby showers. Restaurants. Cafes.
In my forties, with work and family demands cranked up and because my friends have spread out all over Australia and the world, geography and life are incompatible with in-person time. I don’t see them face-to-face nearly enough. This is a bit devastating but it happens slowly and you don’t notice it until you do. You adjust.
Listen: The app Mia Freedman swears by. Post continues after audio.
Now, the centre of my friendships is my smartphone and more specifically, Whatsapp where I have many different small groups and combinations of friends as well as one-on-one chats. Always via text though, never with our voices because nobody wants that. In good times and bad though, my phone bursts brightly with friendship.
The women with whom I surround myself – and in whose own circles I gladly take my place – are the ones whose friendships have proven themselves again and again. Among them are friends from high school and my cherished days in magazines, friends I’ve made through working with them for various periods since Mamamia began a decade ago, friends I’ve made as an adult through my work and friends who have come into my life via my children, my relatives, other friends and even ex boyfriends who I thought had left me nothing of value until I realised I got to keep someone wonderful I’d met while we’d been together.