13. Dear Friend

IMG_9401Inevitably, the year found me thinking a bit about my life to that point. I thought a great deal about friendship and the importance of friends to my life. I decided to find cards I felt suited each and write to let them know this.

It made me think too of my very first best friend Diana.

For almost all of my primary school years and until my family moved away when I was about eleven,  Diana and I were best friends.

The large dusty fields and the bitumen that edged the old weatherboard buildings of that school were massed with kids running, squealing and laughing. There were elaborately conceived games on grand scales and smaller gaggles of friends sharing the things you do when you’re that age. For all those kids though, there are only really a few that stand out in my memory.. quiet, freckle faced Colin for whom I harboured a secret unrequited crush all those years, a kid called Eric who gave me a bloody nose/or I him…can’t remember which..(no hard feelings Eric) but always at the centre, Diana.

Looking at photos of us together we were the yin and yang of friendship. Me, scrappy with dark curls, big grin, and dirty socks from flinging myself into any rough game that was on offer…Diana willowy and neat with long straight locks and a natural grace even as a child.

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There we are, in kindergarten and later in 1974, Diana in simple stylish ensemble, me in one of many fashion faux pars attempting to combine cool psychedelic swirling 70s coloured skivvy with a jumper hand knitted by my mum.

I think that school yard was where I put on the training wheels of friendship. Where I began to learn that what binds is being loyal, keeping confidence, taking care and taking time.

I haven’t always got it right. Sometimes what I was going through myself consumed my capacity for care. Sometimes I was just thoughtless.

My friendships have come to mean everything to me. They tether me to hope and future. They bring me comfort and consolation. They fill me with joy. They are shared pleasures and sorrows. They are talking and listening. They are hugging and being hugged.

I count myself immensely fortunate to have these friends in my life. Some I’ve known for decades, some for just a few years. They range across age and circumstance. We don’t necessarily share the same views on religion or politics. We don’t necessarily share the same interests. The common thread is that they are all warm and generous of spirit and being in their company gives me pleasure.

I enjoyed writing the letters, thinking about our shared experience and appreciating it anew. I think they valued receiving them. For some, they told me receiving it made them cry. For others, that it arrived just when they needed a lift. It was a small gratitude for all they have given me.

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