Marly and me met in primary school. I was five and had a kooky eye, wavy hair and lots of (fake) confidence being the fifth in line to the family jewels. She was quiet. She’s still reserved.
We waded into and out of each other’s lives like we were experimental swimmers at a range of beaches. Somehow, I always knew she was there. She mightn’t have been my newest, bestest friend or my grooviest gal of the moment, but Marly was always on the periphery of my school existence. I’ve never asked her if I was on her dial. Maybe she felt sorry for me. Perhaps she always cared, or I grew on her like an attractive wart?
She was a pretty popular kid. She didn’t need to be loud and boisterous for her mates to know she was a loyal, caring friend. The day she asked me to help her with the very responsible job of putting on the marching music for the school assembly, I knew I lingered somewhere in her scope of friendship. I was chuffed. Marly was responsible at 10, while I wasn’t considered that way inclined. But she chose me. She trusted me. That’s all it took.
I met Speedy somewhere between 1980 and 1984.
We were in a lot of the same classes, she was an amazing Sporty Spice, quick with the basketball and zippy on the netball court. We were both pretty hopeless at maths, but it was the day she stayed with me when I sprained my ankle on a mountaintop that I really felt a connection. We were probably 15. I didn’t know we’d still be in each other’s lives in 2010. Perhaps if I had, I’d have been careful to foster a relationship from the start.
The special tending wasn’t needed. We had enough in common to keep us going through the years of playing sport together, going to see bands, raging in nightclubs, laughing until we almost cried. She liked me. That’s all it took.
Not-A-Skank (not her real name) and I shared an instant dislike of each other. It was 1980, and we were two girls enrolled in the Catholic convent school with a couple of hundred other Year 7s. She was a tomboy and so was I. My sister had taught her as a kid, and when she knew Not-A-Skank and I would be at secondary school together, she told me that we would get along so well.
I had friendly expectations. We were both hot-heads and our first few meetings were fueled by fire.
It took years. Not-A-Skank was great mates with Marly and Speedy, so our paths crossed all the time, but it wasn’t until we were on a compulsory religious retreat with Passionate Priests (lol) that we realized a kindred spirit. One that had been forged in fury rather than jocularity, but stronger because of the friction.
We were 17 and in our last year of school. We spent much of the retreat laughing, crying, lying in the middle of the Great Ocean Road for photos (not recommended for our own kids, thanks!) and chatting about our friends in common. We grew to like each other. That’s all it would ever take.
And My-Face Lady (not her real name)? Our bond came later, although we knew of each other at school. She was close to Marly, Not-A-Skank and Speedy, so what could we do? We fell together after the age of 18, became close when the binds of education had been broken and we’d moved on to different universities, although I knew her legendary tales.
She was the antithesis of Sporty Spice. When she was (perhaps) 14, she was ordered by our white skivvy-wearing, tight purple tracksuit-panted sport’s teacher to run and spring off the board to bestraddle the vaulting horse. My-Face lady was scared and uncoordinated. The hideous teacher yelled at her. Speedy and Not-A-Skank had sailed over said horse, finding the process easy, so My-Face lady took a deep breath and launched into her unusual run.
She pumped her arms, flailed the air into her straining lungs, looked for the gold medal and sprung … only to crash, head first into the bottom of the horse, the same side at which she’d sprung from the board. She’d head-butted and fallen upon her tiny buttocks.
She laughs about it now. At the time, the teacher should have been strung up by his y-front wedgy.
Eventually, she got better at sport and activity. We liked each other, and twas as easy, as simple as that.
People meet for a purpose. Part of the reason I believe in fate is due to my ongoing relationship with these women (nee girls). We’ve blown about together and wandered from each other. Perhaps we wouldn’t have ‘worked’ if we’d met in 2010? We were meant to meet at the precise moment it happened.
Yet some of us have hidden in our minds or expressed opinions in loud, unruly ways. We’ve gotten drunk and said things we regret in the harsh reality of light. We’ve become many things: individuals, partners, wives, mothers, loners, committee members, teachers, business women, stronger, friends of other people, anti-social, depressed, uplifted, repressed, made mistakes and made them again.
But they are there. We’re here, and that’s all it takes.
A few posts ago, I wrote that I was incredibly lucky to have wise siblings in my life. But these friends? These women — so different in appearance, interests, personalities, ways of coping — weave their wonder through my history. How fortunate I was to meet them. How destined we were to be something for each other. How wonderful it is to have you in my life.