There’s nothing I like better than catching up with friends for a long, leisurely brunch on the weekend. French toast, a large cappuccino and freshly squeezed orange juice take me to my happy place. In an ideal world this culinary treat would be followed up by a group trip to the nail bar for a pedi, perhaps a second coffee, and then an afternoon spent chilling in the sun gossiping and reading the Sunday papers.
The reason this scenario exists in dream-world-fantasy-land, is due to the fact that I now have a baby. And while I can indulge in any of these activities, piling them all together, one on top of another, is just not going to happen.
What I’m finding hard to adjust to isn’t the lack of regular brunch meet-ups, hot coffee and lazy pampering. Instead it’s the bonding between friends that comes with those experiences.
Friendships between women, especially those who have known each other for eons, often seems to find its foundations in the shared rituals enjoyed together, be they simple or extravagant. These rituals give the opportunity for the story to unfold, and to discover a kindred spirit (or spirits).
In early adolescence it was getting ready together before the dance, or joining the same sports team. While the late teens and early twenties saw a whole new range of rituals, different but curiously similar to those enjoyed as a 13 year old. The common thread between them all is the way the experience is shared.
As lives start to change and paths diverge finding that thread can be difficult, and having time to unravel it near impossible. Impromptu weekend catch ups at the beach or hastily planned after work drinks, are often the first things to go by the wayside. Real life, be that babies, mortgages, partners or career, start to seep into the picture, and bring constraints on time that were never an issue in the past.
Take for example three of my closest friends. There’s me, the only mama in the group with my seven month old, my friend Kate, who spends the majority of her week travelling interstate for work, Emma, who is midway through an intense PhD, and Nicole whose teaching role sees her rising at five o’clock each morning to commute to work and prepare for the demanding class load ahead.
We’ve been friends for approximately 350 years which means the foundations of the friendship are set in concrete, but the twists and turns of life are capable of sneaking up and giving those foundations a good ol’ shake, rattle and roll.
Somehow though, we manage to schedule time to allow our journey together to continue to unfold. Each time we catch up, the diaries (or more accurately iPhones) come out, and a possible date for the next catch up is discussed. This involves a complex mathematical formula requiring the input of four very different timetables that knocks out approximately 85% of suggested dates and times. Eventually we happen on a day and time that works. We look forward to that tiny window in the future – free from the structure that defines so much of our daily lives.
To me, this is the key. It’s the grown up version of our younger, sporadic and hasty catch ups. It’s different, yes, and may involve using a diary to decide dates as opposed to leaving it all to chance. There may be a series of weeks instead of days between meetings and we might be ordering a bottle of Argentinean Pinot Grigio as opposed to a Vodka raspberry. But at its core, we are investing in the very same rituals. Just the updated, iPhone 5 version.
Can you relate? Do you find it difficult to catch up with friends?