Whenever I hear the words “the girls” it always reminds me of Sex in the City. The scene in the final episode of the series when Big surprises Carrie with inviting “the girls” to their wedding reception. He knew their wedding day would not be complete without her best friends there to share it. The joy on their faces when they see each other was just beautiful.
Whether you have your “girls” or whatever you like to call them, squad seems to be popular at the moment, female friendships really are something else. We generally have a great capacity for empathy and have a very healthy dose of intuition. This makes us a fantastic support for anyone but in my personal experience, it makes for having a safe, non-judgemental place to go with my feelings. I am not great at verbally sharing “all” of me with anyone – much easier to share it through my writing with all of you – go figure! In my case, I am lucky that in times of great need my husband is who I confide in, albeit late at night in the dark. But my friends, the best, the old, the related, the new and the ones who are distant geographically, are all there for me as I hope I have been for them at the different stages of our lives. I hope they know how much they all mean to me. I think I have achieved what they say on Instagram – “Squad Goals!”
In my house “the girls” are two dear friends I have known since I was 14 years old. We met in high school. As three individuals we are actually quite different but, like the ingredients in a Cosmopolitan, put us together and you get a perfect blend.
We have shared typing and shorthand classes, boyfriends (in one case accidentally in the literal sense lol) wild car rides, skipping school, cigarettes on the school oval, sleepovers, deepest darkest secrets, the kind that only school age girls can have. One went on to marry the loveable larrikin I always adored – I literally grew up with him living up the street from me from the age of 5. We were definitely destined to be connected forever.
As adults, we have had times of less contact but we always find our way back to each other. There have been 21st Birthdays – our own and now our children’s, Weddings, 30th Birthdays, the birth of seven children between us, a Surprise 40th Birthday and then our 50th Birthdays. Sadly we have also had the funeral of that much-loved larrikin that devastated us all and brought us even closer together. His service will stay with me forever. Standing room only for a man who had no idea how loved he was. I can truly say I think of him every day and will always carry his photo in my purse. It serves as a reminder of a treasured friendship lost but forever kept.
So on that sad day connections were renewed and strengthened. Promises made. A realisation that life is too short and we need to spend our time wisely. With the people that matter. With the people we love. We need to tell people we love them. It is so important to know that because sometimes what is a “given” or “of course they know” needs to be heard by someone. Do it today.
The girls were there the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer, one of them among a few friends who received my hysterical phone call as I waited 3 hours at home before my appointment where I would find out my test results. They supported me after my surgery with phone calls, visits, sausage rolls and lemon meringue pie and encouraging cards. Personal sentimental keepsakes they treasured were lent to me to give me strength. They cried with me and then we would laugh till we cried, often at the most inappropriate things. A lot of black humour that not everyone would find funny but it was just the tonic for me.
Then, only recently, within a 12 month period, we each lost a parent. Three funerals. Three hearts were broken. Three girls who would have given anything to be able to go back to the carefree days of high school.
They remember my “stuff.” If I go back through my phone texts they forget nothing. They would wish me all the best for my Dad’s specialist appointments – how did they remember such dates? They check in when my boys have been unwell or are sitting exams. They send friendship quotes when they know I am down. These past few weeks have been a tough time for me and they are like night watchmen with their regular messages of “Are you ok?” or “I love you.” They say that often. Without the other knowing, they text me at the same time a lot. It’s quite funny the synchronicity of their thoughts.
So what the three of us do on a regular basis to “escape” is have our “shack” weekends. We are lucky enough to have the use of a shack in lovely Goolwa. It sometimes takes extreme logistics to get us all free on the same weekend but we manage it at least twice a year. We all wish it was more often than that but that’s life.
Our routine is simple. Travel down in one car. Stop at the local shops. Load up on a variety of snacks – think Twisties, M&M’s, dips and crackers and Honey Soy Chips – the things we love but wouldn’t generally feast on. We take preventative Panadol and Berocca. Then we go to the bottle shop. I get my Sav Blanc, they get their Chardonnay, then we grab a bottle of Champagne to kick start the day and we are all set. Probably similar to our school aged outings but now at least we are not hiding the alcohol and buy nice wine in bottles lol.
We go in, turn on the water and the heater/air con, pending the season, put the three two-seater couches into a circle, turn on the music, iPod or 80’s music DVD, get comfy clothes on, bras generally are not required and we talk and we laugh. No subject is off limits. No question too embarrassing to ask. No event too sacred to share. Sometimes there are tears. We have all had our reasons and time when a good cry with those that know you best was just what was needed but for the most part, we have fun.
Sometimes we go out for lunch or dinner but more often than not we are happy to just “be” in the “shack.” We catch up on what our kids have been up to – given there are seven of them that takes some time. We genuinely have a vested interest in each other’s families and hope that one day two of them will make two of us mother-in-law’s (yes seriously). Two of us have watched as one gave us belly dancing lessons, complete with floaty scarves. Something I will never forget that’s for sure. There have also been regular tarot card readings. The more wine consumed the more accurate they become. It normally takes my head a few days to get over these weekends, too much wine and not enough sleep, but my soul is always refreshed. Problems shared are problems solved and we literally set the world right when we get together.
These weekends are all about unconditional, open friendship. The kind that can only be found when there is so much history between you. No one knows you quite like your school friends. That’s not to take away from my other friendships at all. I am really lucky to have many fabulous girlfriends as I have mentioned and I look forward to talking about them all over time. But there is an “X-factor” that comes with your childhood friends. One of my favourite quotes is one that says “Everyone has a friend during each stage of life, but only lucky ones have the same friend in all stages of life.”
I am lucky to have two such friends and I love them both.