Archive for the ‘friendship’ Category

A couple of golden oldies

Friday, January 18th, 2013

My daily trip to the local beach was a little different yesterday. Actually the whole beach experience was the norm, it was the trip back to the car that was different. As everyone knows the worst part of going to the beach is going home from the beach. Trying to carry kids and all of the stuff that you need to take for even fifteen minutes that is now wet and sandy, all the way back to the car.

I was wandering back to the car, my arm slowly going numb from the bag, the bub grizzling in my arms and the wild child dragging his surfboard behind him. We were about to cross the path when this gorgeous couple walked past. We waited for them and exchanged smiles. They were hand in hand, taking their time, just wandering down the path laughing and talking to each other and greeting the small children they passed. They were enjoying the sunshine, not bothered by the crowds or the bikes whizzing past them on the path. They were just happy in the moment and in each others company.

It’s not that rare to see a deliriously happy couple walking to the lookout on the summer holidays. We live in a holiday town, lots of people are plastered with holiday happy faces. But this couple weren’t tourists. They were locals. They had to be, because if you were their age, you could holiday any time of the year and not have to battle the summer crowds.

This couple were old. Grey hair, walking at snail’s pace, comfortable shoes, cardis on on a warm summers day old. I reckon they were both in their 80’s at least. They were just so happy with each other’s company. Safe, secure and with genuine smiles to prove it. They made me smile, hopeful that one day I too will still enjoy my little coastal town in the summer and happily walk down the path with my husband, smiling at all the cute little kids carrying their surfboards back to the car. They would have had a fabulous story to tell I’m sure, filled with love and laughter and happiness, but also with life and that means sadness and regret.

But yesterday they making a new memory, and basking in some old ones I’m sure. A couple of golden oldies.

That conversation

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Have you ever had a conversation that has changed your life?

Now that may sound melodramatic and for the millions of conversations I have daily about slime monsters it is so far from reality it is laughable. But every now and then, there is one conversation that changes the way you see the world irrevocably.

Some are revealing, some are heartbreaking, some are earth shattering, some are highly embarrassing. I’m not just talking about the phone call you get when something terrible has happened to someone you love, because then it is more the event itself than the actual conversation that has the lasting impact.

It tends to be the conversation that takes you by surprise, perhaps the one you didn’t initiate, or that you did but on a totally different wavelength. It’s a conversation that you didn’t want to have, but once you have you can never ever forget it. And it’s often thrust upon you. A classic example is the time my Mum so eloquently asked if I was sexually active yet, and when I refused to answer, she asked, well did you enjoy it. Yes I know you just clasped your hands over your mouth in horror. We didn’t speak for a while.

Some of these conversations have left me winded, struck down and gasping for air. Shocked by the revelation that means your friends are never going to be seen in the same light again. The ones who are telling you, and the ones they are telling you about. Your friends who are telling you this information that they believe you need to know, have no concept of how your life is about to be changed forever.

It’s different when it comes from the person themselves, more awkward, but at least less confusing. There is no mistaking that when they tell you they are in love with you, or have feelings for you that you could not have imagined in your wildest dreams, they mean it. But what happens when others do it? How do you check if they are for real? Do you go and ask the person they are talking about? And if you do, how does that conversation start, and worse, end. And what happens if they are telling the truth? How do you go back to sharing a bed with a guy you thought was your best friend, and only your best friend?

You don’t. And that’s how your life changes forever. You lose someone you loved, laughed with, cried with and told your secrets to. Because if this conversation really is telling the truth, then how could you not know their greatest secret of all.

He never told you because he knew you too well. Better than your friends who thought they were doing everyone a favour by telling you the ‘truth’. But who needs to know the truth when it hurts so much. When it catches you right in the ribs and you double over and can’t get back up. When you can’t look at your friends the same again and you never ask him whether they were telling the truth.

So instead, years later, married and with children, with your old best buddy on the other side of the world, you seek out another life changing conversation. You check the facts. You initiate the conversation, not really sure if you want the answer, but knowing you need it.

And again, it catches you out, makes the world spin the other way and flips everything on its head. And your life changes all over again.

There are conversations I have wished friends had have had with me, about boyfriends cheating, poor mental health, terrible choices of men, or friends, or jobs. And these absences hurt too, but not in the way that those actual words sting. There are angry, vengeful, fighting exchanges that are hard to recover from, but again, you are immersed in these and can regret your own part.

It’s the ones that take you by surprise. The ones that in the blink of an eye make your whole world shift. Sometimes things are just better left unsaid.

Simple Pleasures…

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Sometimes it is the simple things in life that bring the most pleasure.

Like a sleep in. Simple yes, possible no. Aim lower. How about reading the weekend paper, on the weekend. Or finding a new cafe with really good coffee and a really friendly, but not too friendly barista. Or feeling the warmth of the sunshine on your face. Or devouring a fabulous book. Or finding an old friend on Facebook.

All of these things have happened to me in the last week and how much they have brightened up my world. Some of them were very unexpected, others were my own, deliberate doing. One of the challenges of being a stay at home mum, for me, is finding activities that make us all happy that don’t cost much money. In the summer, this is no problem. The beach provides hours of entertainment for my whole family. We are lucky that we all love it, all of it, sandy feet in the house, sandy sandwiches, crunchy salty hair. And last weekend we found a new treat that the beach offers that we knew about, but had never experienced. We went for a bushwalk from one beach to the next and stopped for a rest at the hang gliders launch pad. It was awesome. We just sat and appreciated, in awe, of these people who chose to spend their weekends jumping off the edge of a cliff with a parachute thingy attached to their back. It was pretty cool, and free.

But the best of all of these things came in the form of a reunion. For some reason I searched for a very dear friend I lost touch with. I found her. I woke up in anticipation of checking to see if she had responses. She had accepted my request to be friends again – with glee. We were reunited at last. It was lovely. The feeling of someone so familiar being back in your life. Filling in years gone missing with a few sentences and albums full of photos. We will catch up in the next few weeks. I will get to see her babies all grown up and she will get to meet mine. I hope she’s not too mad that we lost touch, just wrapped that we managed to find each other again. It will be funny to see whether she thinks I have changed. So much of my life is soooo different now, but I wonder if I am too. And I wonder if the changes are for the better.

I only know what pleasure finding her has brought me already. I can only imagine how good a hug in person and a cup of tea with an old friend will be.

You just hope they fit in

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

I spied on my son today.

He was at occasional care for the afternoon and they had gone outside to play. You can see the yard from where we park the car so I crept up to the fence and peeked through. He was just sitting on one of those cool old tyre swings by himself. he wasn’t talking to the other kids or playing with anyone else.

It made me a bit sad. I have asked the ladies who run it if he has friends and they vaguely answer something about they all play together. He is a very social kid, some might say a bit too social. He loves to be in the company of others and I know in other situations he plays happily with other kids. So maybe it is just this place. Maybe he was just a bit tired today after all our mechanic playing in the yard and exploring down the creek. Maybe he just likes his own company.

I think it’s great that he can play on his own. When the weather is nice, he is a very happy vegemite playing outside all day, with or without me around. I hope he has a strong enough sense of self and a wild enough imagination that he can make the world interesting, even when it isn’t. But I also want him to fit in.

I know what happens to kids who are a little bit different. Or who try too hard to fit in with others. I’ve spent lots of time with annoying kids who just don’t get why the others don’t want to hang out with them. And it breaks your heart when you see kids that are lonely. It’s a horrible feeling for an adult, and I wouldn’t wish it on any kids, no matter the pitch of their voice.

I hadn’t ever really thought about it before. Usually I am just hoping he wont offend anyone! But today I just wanted him to be happy, to see him have fun, to play with the others. He is very articulate so I’m sure he will tell me later when I pick him up whether he had fun and who he played with.

And them I can give him a big cuddle and be the mechanic again.

50 Shades of Friendship

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

I collect friends. I don’t always look after them as well as I should. Sometimes they stay packed away and I glance at them every now and then, but I don’t get them out and have a good play with them. Other friends I see all the time. And some friends I love to death but for lots of reasons, really only get to maintain the friendship via facebook.

What I love about friends is how they each fit different situations. Some friends are your weekend friends, the ones you will always make plans with, hang out with, cook for, buy birthday presents for. Other friends are parents of your kid’s friends. At the moment I still choose these, but I know as the years pass that my sons will determine this far more than me. Some of my parent’s best and oldest friends are those they met when my brothers were in primary school. (Mine never really made the cut!) Other friends are Mum’s that I have met locally, through Mother’s Group, or the hours – make that days – I have spent at the park in the last three years. These friends are fun to suss out new activities with, or chat to when you just can’t pretend tanbark is delicious chocolate cake anymore.

Then I have my oldest friends, school and uni, and growing up together friends. Some of these I especially like to dust off now and then because they remind me of things I used to love, or still love but used to do. These are friends who remind you of the plans you had to be a lawyer, or travel the world together. These are friends who remind you how much you used to love dancing to terrible eighties music like My Sharona. Or could just say Reality Bites, and have you both in stitches. These are friends who remind you of the terrible, and wonderful, ex-boyfriends you had, or the disaster your eighteenth birthday party was. These are friends who carried you through the horror that was being a teenage girl.

Some of my favourite friends are those I travelled with, because if anything tests a friendship it’s living together, with no money, huge expectations and a lot of partying. These are the friends that make me smile when I hear Jack Johnson play, or see a photo of the Canadian Rockies. These are friends who laugh their ass off when I say the words Boot Pub, Whistler, because they share the same foggy memory of many Jagermeister shots and a death metal band that we modeled t’shirts for. Some of these I will never see again, but have fond memories of dress up parties, Eye of the Tiger karaoke style, beers on the cliff top in Ios and a very little thumb.

They say you make your friends you will have for life in your twenties. And I think I have. I am lucky enough to be included in new friendship groups, where others have known each other for nearly twenty years, and yet my five years is full of shared holidays and weddings and new babies which make me feel like I have known them forever. New friends allow you to recreate yourself in a way that everyone should be entitled to. We shouldn’t have to carry around the baggage of our teenage years forever. I will never forget some of my fights with boyfriends at parties, drunk and crying like a fool. But that doesn’t mean that I need to think about that very often either. And if I want to wander down memory lane, I have beautiful, ancient friends to laugh about how foolish teenage girls can be.

I am very lucky. If I read a fabulous book I have friends to talk to about it. If I am finding my kids really challenging, I have friends who care and listen. If I can’t make a decision, or regret something I have done, I know who will be supportive and considerate. If I want to get trashed, dance like a fool and get kicked out of a few Melbourne bars on a Wednesday afternoon, there is no shortage of fellow trouble makers. So if we haven’t chatted for a while, or I haven’t wrapped my arms around you for a squeeze, or I haven’t been able to get out for a wine and boogie, then I’m sorry. But it doesn’t still mean you aren’t part of the collection. You never know, I might be listening to Jack Johnson right now, and smiling, as I remember.

Oh Day Care, how I have learnt to love you….

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Today is day care day in my house.

It usually means a mad day of rushing around and getting all of those jobs done that are fraught with danger with a nearly three year old and bub in tow. I buy only what I need at the grocery store, instead of all of the extra ‘silencers’ that buy me some time when my toddler comes shopping. I clean the floors, once, and they stay clean. I do the washing, dishes, pay bills, check emails, walk the dog without stopping and head into school to tutor some Year 12 boys. Oh yeah and I feed, change, play with and settle the baby.

My day flies past. I rarely eat lunch or do anything for me. So today I decided to do it a little differently. Today I have decided to read the paper, write my blog, eat lunch, talk on the phone, all things I love doing but never find time to do. The problem with never finding time to enjoy these ‘luxuries’ is I get to a point at some stage during the week where I just get pissed off. Pissed off that I don’t get any time to do anything for myself, by myself. (Now granted I still have my bub with me on day care days, and prior to his arrival when I only had one, I couldn’t do any of these things, but you learn to be faster and very good at using one hand when there are two hovering at your ankles.)

I’ve had a few days up in Melbourne visiting lots of friends, hanging out with my family and getting a few jobs done. My husband gets some time to himself and my family get to spend some time with their nephews/ grandsons. Then I walk in the door to have friends arrive to stay for the weekend. They are easy friends. They let their kid eat whatever, watch telly, sleep wherever and don’t make too many comments about how crazy my kids are – which is nice. But by Sunday night I was knackered and bubbling under the surface was this angst.  As I pat my baby back to sleep having just got into bed and realising there is a load of washing in the machine to hang out, the angst grows.

I have just spent four solid days of making sure everyone else is okay, doing my bit to help out, check in, support, build relationships, offer food, clean up, make conversation, listen, make sure others get sleep and by last night I was done! I took the lap top and a book to melbourne, hoping to read and write, but couldn’t find the time to do either. Now my life is pretty easy compared to lots of my friends with sick babies at the moment, but it’s always busy and by Sunday night I was exhausted. I want someone to make sure I get uninterrupted sleep, or that my toddler isn’t being too offensive. I would like my kids’ uncles to make the effort to hang out with their nephews instead of me having to drive two hours with two kids down the freeway. I would like to go to bed complaining how long it’s been since I went for a really long bike ride, instead of how nice four hours of sleep in a row would be. I would like someone to call me on an afternoon and say, hey haven’t seen you for ages and we are just up the road can we come visit.

So instead of whinging about it, hang on, as well as whinging about it, today I just took a couple of hours off. I did my chores while by babies were awake and now while I have a little bit of quiet I am relishing it! Sure, I’ll pay for it later when the dinner isn’t made and the house is a bomb and the washing piles up and the dog hasn’t been walked, but today I don’t care. My son is in day care and I’m having some time off. I’m not feeling guilty about him being there. Not justifying putting him there so I can clean and cook and shop and work. I’m tired of telling people who don’t put their kids in day care why my son is going. Because for those of us without the luxury/ interference of grandparents round the corner, we know the benefits of day care. When you are two years old peer pressure is fantastic! You learn to use the toilet, stop crying at drop off, share, eat good food and even SLEEP IN THE DAY.

So goodbye to the guilt, sure it’ll be back this weekend when we see the in-laws and they wonder why he goes for a whole day when I work for one hour, but today we are strangers. Now for another cup of tea and a tim tam.

Old friends, new lives

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Some old friends came to visit me today. They drove two hours with a toddler who is as mad as mine to come and see my newly renovated house. They are family friends, my Mum’s bestie, her daughter and grandson. I have known them my whole life, in fact she is my Godmother. It was lovely to have them here, interested in my house, my life, my kids. It actually meant more to me than I thought it would. Why? Because I’m not very good at maintaining links between my past and my present. There are so many people that I have loved over the years that I just don’t see anymore. These are people I lived with, travelled with, slept with, told secrets to and grew up with. Some of them I can’t be in touch with anymore, lives have moved apart and we have nothing left to offer each other. But there are others who I think about, often, and who I wish I could see again.

I’m a lazy friend. Not always and not to everyone, but I have these amazing friends who can be tripping around the world, or living in some exotic location and they still have the energy and courtesy to stay in touch with everyone they have ever met. That aint me. I wish it was, no that’s not entirely true, sometimes I wish it was. Some of these friendships ended awkwardly, a fight or some harsh words, or in one case moving out, and then just never seeing them again. Until Facebook that is. Others are people who were my whole world at that particular time in my life and nothing terrible happened but I left the country, or they left, or I went to Uni or got a new job, or new boyfriend and gradually I just didn’t see them for a while. These are the ones I wonder about.

And it can happen at the weirdest times. A song can be playing that just transports you back to another place and another time when you feel like you were a different person. Jack Johnson has that effect. Immediately I am in Byron, having caught the train up in my school holidays (as a teacher), pashing a hot English back packer who cooked the pancakes at the hostel I was staying at with a gorgeous friend of mine. Or it can be a food or drink. A sip of Southern Comfort and I am back in high school getting smashed with my best mate, the most genuine, thoughtful, fun loving guy I have ever known. We laughed, and I cried, for many years, and now its been so long since I have spoken to him that I don’t really know how to pick up the phone. I think I’m a much much better person now too than I was back in high school and I feel bad that he had to put up with all of my crap and didn’t really get to reap any of the reward. As for any picture of Canada that I see, there are so many memories of so many amazing people that come flooding back. Some whose names I can’t remember, but singing every word of Eye of the Tiger in a stinky pub in Banff with them is still embarrassingly fresh in my memory.

Some of these people I never expected to see again, but if I did I’d be wrapped. But others I would love to run in to. Not in an awkward “Hi this is my husband and two kids, and husband this is the guy I met on a school camp and who taught me to be proud of myself in a way no one else ever had”, kind of way. (That’s a whole other blog, believe me!) But maybe to just see where they ended up and thank them for the impact they had on me, or some cases punch them in the face! Maybe life doesn’t work like that though. Maybe people only have a brief window into each others lives, that they live together, love each other, laugh and move on. Maybe we take what we need from them and keep travelling on the journey. Maybe the memories are enough to remind us of the impact they have had on us and that naturally we change and develop and move on. And if that is the case, then thank god for Facebook, because at least I can spy on them without actually having the awkward face to face contact.

But today life long friends remained just that. They are still part of my life, and now they are part of my kids lives too. It’s a nice feeling to be around people that celebrated your birth, but it’s nicer to know that some of the beautiful friends that I have in my life now, who have celebrated my babies births with me will also drive down the coast and check on my kids in 35 years time. And just like today, I hope they can just pick up where they left off, whether they are friends on Facebook or not.

 

 



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