Friends are treasures.
Friends should be treasures, and I have a abundance of treasure in my own collection. My closest friends have been part of my life for more decades than I choose to count. Many. Cheryl has been there since we were 6 years old, and sitting on a rock on Clifton Beach in Cape Town. We went to school together, and we know every turn each other's life has taken, and have been a part of it all. Now, when we get together, the ease is just so familiar. Like old slippers. Just as well she doesn't read this because I would get a loud ear full for referring to her as old slippers, but you know what I mean. Comfortable. Reassuringly familiar. Reliable.
Linds, on the other hand (the other Linds), has known me all my adult life, since we were students together, and shared a flat in Fuller Hall, a student residence at UCT. We were 17 when we went to university, and 40 years later, we are still best friends. She may live in New Zealand (which is very useful, as she also happens to be Diana's godmother) but the advent of the Internet makes daily contact so simple. Well, I say daily - we try! First there were letters, hand written, and then, oh wow, the arrival of the fax machine! Our joy knew no bounds. The Internet, though, has revolutionised our contact. She has yet to try skype, but I use it so much to keep in touch with family around the globe. One glance at each other and we don't need to say a thing. I have written about Linds many times - and she is very special.
Glynis and Peter - I have known Peter since the same time I met Linds, and then he had the great sense to ask Glynis to marry him a few years later, and so she barrelled into all our lives then. And I am so glad she did. She and two of my newer friends, Jean and Jackie, have been with me throughout the ordeal of the CRPS and the hospital saga. And now, she and Jean and I share our gym exploits. There is much laughter, believe me. We are very good at laughing at ourselves. A sense of humour is essential around here.
Friends from school. From university. From our children's school days. From church. Friends of friends who become ours as well. Think of me as a dot in the centre of a small circle. That small circle would be made up of the few closest friends allowed into most parts of my life. People like Cheryl. Linds. Glynis, They know what I am thinking before I even begin to voice my thoughts. And nothing I do ever surprises them. Remember that cake hitting the wall? I rest my case. They also know what I am feeling, and that is a part usually invisible. They would not hesitate to speak out if they thought I needed to hear what they had to say, and that is great. No editing.
And then there is the next circle - close close friends. Those who have had such a huge impact on my life, but who have only been around a few decades. (This just goes to show how old I am, doesn't it!) It takes time to get to know someone so well, and work too. And the circles extend - more and more - to include friends in different areas of my life, my singing friends, my hospital friends, my blogging friends. My sewing friends. Book club. English friends. Swiss friends. South African friends. American friends. Canadian......So many more.
Moving hemispheres creates a huge sense of loss in a way. Stepping out of a group of dear friends who were so much a part of my daily life, yet not severing ties at all, is difficult, but it CAN be done! They made me a glorious quilt when I left, and believe me, there were many days when I used to haul it out and wrap myself in it and wonder what on earth I had done moving a family across the globe. But moving does not end friendships, does it. People travel, and more so now that we are all older and the children are no longer at home that much. So staying in touch is much easier.
This year, it is 40 years since my school friends and I wrote Matric and left school for university. There is a reunion in Cape Town, and women are travelling from all around the globe to be there. (I cannot go, but will be going to a smaller one in London instead.) 40 years. Unbelievable. And yet, when I have met up with some old school friends after 40 years recently, it is as if we had seen each other just last week. The foundation remains there. 12 years of school together creates bonds!
My school friends, and even more so, my university friends, and then the friends I made as a young Mum are now scattered round the world. You name the county and I will know someone there. A massive diaspora, which continues with the next generation too. So many adventures, stories of so many really interesting people. The art of friendship revolves around the premise that you will let people into your life, and welcome their presence. Be there for them in hard times and fun times. Listen. Drop things and go. Pick up that phone. Have fun together, cry together, make memories. It is like weaving a multi-coloured tapestry in a way. Unique tapestries.
My tapestry will be bright and bold, I think. All those amazing people. Interesting people. And there will be so many more in coming years. It is the nature of life, to keep interacting, and when we become insular, we lose out on all that colour and then the idea of meeting new people becomes a thing to fear. I don't want to be a lonely old woman one day. I want a door open for friends to pop in - it took 10 years to train my English friends to pop in unannounced! They love it now, but it was a struggle.......
When I turned 50, I made a quilt for myself. This is a seriously bad photo of it taken long ago. In the centre is a photo of me. And around it, I embroidered the words "My life is like a patchwork of people who matter to me". Patchwork. Tapestry. Either will do. Each and every one of my friends has touched my life, and made a difference to me. In me. And I love them all dearly. And the memories each name triggers are all the colours of the rainbow.
And while we are on the subject of friends, today, I met up with a blogging friend, The Bookworm for lunch at Ikea. So exciting! What a delight that was. I had absolutely NO idea what she looked like, but she recognised me straight away, and the conversation flowed for hours. She won the quilt I had as a giveaway a couple of weeks ago, and doesn't live a million miles away from me, so meeting was a wonderful idea. A new friendship. One that will grow. It never ceases to amaze me how many things we all have in common, you know, and today was just lovely. Thanks so much for lunch, Bookworm!