Days of the old schoolyard: friendships that are lifelong

Lindy and me aged about 8
Lindy and me aged about 8

Remember the days of the old schoolyard

We used to laugh a lot…. My oldest friend Lindy and I were always best friends at school, and little has changed. We still act like 17 year olds in each other’s company and have a language that no one else in the world understands. With a word or a look we can set each other off – into gales of laughter or on a trip down our own long memory lane.On a recent Girl’s Weekend, Lindy and I headed down the coast with only ourselves and Cat Stevens for company. We sang ‘Old School Yard’ at the top of our voices and lamented the passing of the years that had turned the gorgeous tousle-headed Cat into the serious grey-haired Yusuf.

We ‘power-talked’ for miles along the beach, and sat on rocks in companionable silence looking out to sea. We sat on the balcony overlooking the ocean and talked till the sun set and the mosquitoes drove us indoors. We compared parenting notes, and congratulated and commiserated with each other in equal measure on various aspects of motherhood. We reminded each other of our own youthful transgressions, and brought a little perspective into each other’s view of the world in general, and of our families in particular

Wedding day aged 23
Wedding day aged 23

For us, the passing of the years is not reflected in each other’s faces or the colour of our hair. We look like the young, carefree girls we always were, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary in the form of aches, pains and the unforgiving mirror. Recently I walked alone along that same beach, lost in thought, and glimpsed a middle-aged couple walking towards me. It was only when we were almost passing that I recognised the woman as one of my closest old school friends, and she transformed immediately into the teenager I knew her to be.

A few years ago, I bumped into another school friend at the funeral of a mutual friend’s mother. I slipped into the seat next to her and said hello. She looked at me blankly until I introduced myself and smiled.

“Now I recognise you,” she said. “Your smile hasn’t changed.”

We spent the afternoon of the funeral in her kitchen, eating cheese and bread and drinking tea: recalling incidents in our shared past that remained clearly in our memories, and laughing our socks off. Our friendship has resumed where it left off: close, conspiratorial and comforting. Like most people, we have had our share of highs and lows in the intervening years and our reconnection has been a welcome and nurturing one, like putting on a pair of comfortable slippers.

I share with my own children a sense of the importance of maintaining old friendships. While modern technology can make a ‘friend’ of just about anybody, I trust that they can discern the difference between a ‘friend’ and a friend. All three of them have retained friendships from their early primary years, and I recognise in them the same easy relationship that Lindy and I have maintained over almost a lifetime.

Old friends are irreplaceable
Lindy and me celebrating over 50 years of friendship

Common to all is a mutual regard and a shared sense of humour. There is nothing like a good laugh to sweep away the years and make us feel young again; if we nurture those youthful friendships, they will become old friendships. And our lives will be so much the richer for them.

“Yes I do……

Oh and I remember you.”

Leave a Reply