We’ve a saying around these parts that goes something like this…Get close to me and you’re off. On an upward trajectory to better things – better jobs and bigger homes…and far from me.
I have a friend who divides her friendships in to two camps. There’s the bread and butter lot and the Fruitcake ones. I still have a lot of bread and butter pals around but the fruitcakes don’t seem to stay long. It started to happen almost as soon as we moved in to the neighbourhood. The great couple in the house next door announced they’d be moving up North, back to the land of her childhood. Weeks beforehand R and I agreed to be tennis partners. As running buddies we’d planned on losing our baby bellies. When they put their house on the market, she told me she’d choose a buyer I’d like. And it was a nice couple who took up occupancy but things just weren’t the same with them. Shortly we ourselves moved a mile away and were soon pouring over a party wall agreement with another decent family. There was something ethereal about the woman of the house – gentle, genuine and great crack (yes, she was Irish too).
We ran together for a while, shared baileys and whiskeys in our kitchens, carried the others spare keys and traded kids over the fence. Until she and family left suburbia for the shires. Bereft once more.
And in between those neighbour wrenchings, my boomerang pal from Istanbul took flight. We met eight years ago when I noticed her walking manically up and down my street trying to soothe her baby to sleep. I sensed her distress and we chatted, then clicked, soon becoming firm friends. She made better lattes with her espresso machine that the local coffee bars. She put my semi-permanent hair colours in for me. She flung a nazur (amulet) in my garden to ward off bad spirits. You want a friend like that on side. I was sad when she told me they were returning to Turkey. Then delighted when she came back a year later. Bewildered as they had another shot at living in Turkey once again. I was happy to have them back within six months. And finally resigned to their big departure for Saudi Arabia four years ago. Imagine my delight this Spring when she wrote to tell me they would be back in the neighbourhood for six months while visas were renewed.
All summer our friendship flourished and deepened as we embarked on The Artist’s Way, a 12 week program of artistic and self recovery.
Three weeks ago my Boomerang pal flew back to Riyadh.
Some years ago I drove another great friend and neighbour to the airport as she departed for Brussels in search of love and fortune. We still have her golf clubs in the shed though it’s unlikely she’ll putt on these shores again.
F went to the Silicon valley and was back within two years as their contract decreed. It’s great to have her here again but I fear it’s not for long as they field off enticements. It’s tough to be resolute as the incentives stack up.
And then there’s my Mexican amigo. We met at the school gates and amongst shallow waters we recognised in each other the capacity for depth. In March they moved to Washington, the realisation of boyhood dreams for her husband. They are working to a (her) two year plan that should see them return.
I don’t want to discount my anchored local friendships. Good people too. I have flash-forwards where I see myself and K from across the road talking fondly about these very days as jugglers when our kids were little and our men busy.
There are wisdoms gained from the brevity and motion of these intense friendships. They tell me I’ve made a dent on their lives as they have in mine. These are people I can bare my soul to. I know I’m not being judged by my housekeeping skills (poor) or my wallet (eh, poor again) or my wardrobe (I’d expect a higher score here mind you). It’s not really a curse I’m talking of but a blessing – that I have been fortunate to have these amazing women cross my path. Even in that sentence, see how the action comes from them. Maybe as I bring change and movement in to my life, things will play out differently.