When I was a student at Adelaide University, my brother had a girlfriend who was more interesting than the usual sort of girl with whom he went out, and one with whom I remained friends after she was dumped for his next one…..I don’t think any stayed on the scene for long at that time. I remember long summer days spent at a particular beach, shopping excursions in Adelaide, and endless teenage chatter about boys and where life might take us…This friendship endured when she left Adelaide to train interstate, then married and went to overseas where her husband worked for several years. She divorced, and returned to our home town, while I moved to Melbourne, married and had kids, so during these busy times our contact was more spasmodic. I divorced and went back to study, then work, while she moved up a stellar career path which eventually included several postings to unusual places, like Antarctica, and I would sometimes read about her in the paper. We met occasionally when I returned to SA to see my parents, or she came to Melbourne, we occasionally wrote, and for years exchanged cards at Christmas. These days we tend to email to keep in touch, but even that is not a regular thing. There might be years between meetings, but it has always been the same – we pick up our friendship again as if it was only yesterday. The last time I saw her was early in 2009, when I was in Adelaide for the Scquilter’s Retreat, when we spent a day together and talked about her coming to visit.
Today I went to Melbourne by train, to visit the Tutankhamen Exhibition at the Melbourne Museum for a second time as I felt I had missed bits the first time round. I was sitting on a tram going up Bourke Street, when for some reason I noticed a woman in the crowds crossing an intersection ahead, and had the fleeting thought it looked like my long time friend. With surprise, a second, closer look confirmed that it was! Getting off at the next stop, I hurried back to try and find her but could not. Disappointed and thinking I may have been mistaken, I turned back to find another tram and complete my journey, only to spot her a few feet ahead of me coming out of a well known bookshop! The look of amazement on her face was a delight to see………even though she later said she thought she had seen my Mother! We hugged, and chatted for a short while, with both of us having to be elsewhere – she to a board meeting and me to a Museum session, there was no time for more, but we agreed to email, and then went our separate ways.
I have been thinking all day about friendship and this one in particular, about the likelihood of such a chance meeting and the literal crossing of our paths. So many factors needed to coincide for it to happen that it truly was amazing…..perhaps I should buy a lottery ticket to see if the luck lasts…..but then a 47 year long friendship is worth more than any prize I might win.