It’s so easy to take friends for granted when they’re just around the corner and you can see them whenever you want. Moving countries for the first time, when we moved to Washington DC a few years ago, really brought home how important my friends were. I also learnt the value of putting the effort in to make new friends in our new home. Then we repeated the exercise when we moved to Sydney, only this time I had two sets of long distance buddies to keep up with, while at the same time finding a new set of friends.
When we left Sydney for the UK last year, we were going back to old friends, slipping back into a comfortable familiarity with a warming ease. I love the way with old friends, we are always there for each other when we need to be, no matter how much time has passed since we last saw each other, or even spoke.
But then we hit the road, and it was suddenly just us. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that we have at the moment to spend so much time as a family, and all the benefits that that brings, but I miss my friends. Some days I have a hankering to go for a coffee, to roll my eyes and dramatically sigh ’Men!’ or to compare with my mummy friends the Littlest Hobos latest habit and feel reassured that it’s completely normal at that age and won’t automatically be qualifying her as a teen delinquent or something worse.
When we left the UK in January, the same friends who had left us in charge of their home while they were away on holiday six months previously, offered to sell our car for us, giving us the opportunity to use it right up until the last day. It was such a kind gesture and I was touched that they gave up their valuable weekends to do it.
A couple of weeks ago a close friend in Sydney, whose daughter is the same age as the Littlest Hobo gave birth to her second daughter. I was delighted to hear the news, but I know I would have felt the pain of distance if it hadn’t been for a constant flow of texts and emails in the couple of days following, I’m still sad that I’m missing out on those newborn snuggles, but I’m sure that being able to ‘chat’ was the next best thing to actually being there.
Over Easter, some friends came down from Auckland to meet us for a week, bringing with them a collection of thoughtfully put together toys as a refreshing change for the Littlest Hobo from the small selection that we are carrying with us. A couple of weeks later we spent two days at their house in Auckland, where we’ve stayed several times on previous visits to New Zealand, and I relished in the ‘coming home’ feeling that flooded the car as we drove up their driveway. We’re heading back there at the weekend, and I’m really looking forward to it.
|It was great to catch up with old friends a few weeks ago|
I got an email today from a friend who was reminded of me when she walked into somewhere we used to go together… it made me a bit misty eyed, and it also made my day. I’ve got a few friends, spread over the three continents we’ve lived on, who make sure we stay in email contact, no matter how long it goes before they get a response, and two friends in particular who, like our families, have stuck with us through the not quite as advertised internet connections that we keep coming up against to check in on skype regularly - I love these chats, there’s something about the beauty of actually being able to see each other, seeing them in familiar surroundings, that is incredibly comforting. I love the normality of pauses to stop the baby eating the computer cable, or to grab a glass of wine, and the chatter of every day life.
What’s the point of this post? I’ve asked myself that several times… I suppose I just wanted to say thank you - to so many gorgeous souls whose everyday gestures, great and small, make our lives a bit easier, or remind us that they’re all still there, and in their own way make this trip a little bit more possible. I always say travel is about the people you meet along the way, but for me, it wouldn't be possible without the people who aren't right there right then too.
I’m so glad that we‘re doing this trip now, and not several years previously; I’m not sure that I would have managed to travel for so long without the tiny modern day wonders which have become part of our every day lives and ultimately, keep us in touch.