Sometimes the thoughts come thick and fast and I’ll post lots. And then sometimes for weeks there’s nothing. The nothing usually coincides with extra illness or stress and the creativity in my brain gets shut down in favour of just getting along with every day life. Those are the least fun times.
But today I woke up thinking about friendship. The really strong friendships you have that are gone. I feel quite sad when I realise at this very point in my time, although I have been very lucky to have experienced great friendships, that they have all lessened with distance. Australia is a vast country and people of my generation moved away from it as soon as they could, especially in the 90’s when jobs were few and overseas glittered with promise.
By the way I’m not counting childhood friends in this, because none of mine made it solidly past those teenage years to adult years. I know some do, but it can be a tough time as you realise the friendship was probably due to circumstance, like working together, formed to help make school more bearable. I’m still in touch with some of my school friends but the friendships are not close.
I have a few great friends, people whom I could count on at any time of the day or night and people that have been through some big events with me. Those are the priceless friends, the ones to whom you don’t have to explain feelings and thoughts to because either they were there or they had them too. But none of them are here.
The last 5 years I have been sadly on my own through most of it. Or just without connection to a daily source of friendship. I’ve been able to talk to a good friend in England on Skype occasionally but his life is busy in a different way and it’s hard to touch on everything in a 2 hour phone call every few weeks. I have another good friend in England but she is either very bad on communication or she doesn’t want to talk to me anymore, but the result is the same. Another good friend moved to Singapore years ago and returned to live in Sydney last year. Again the distance is far. It’s challenging to keep a close friendship going over phone only, and I am sensitive when I don’t get replies.
I’m not sure what I’m trying to say with this piece of writing, it’s not meant to be a whinge fest about how bad my friends are, because that’s not true. Just an acknowledgment of how hard life can be and how much extra work it is to keep a friendship going when they are far away. Add to that a hefty dose of low motivation that comes from a long term illness, and it’s not a great combination.
I’ll end with this: the event that inspired my thoughts in this post was an anniversary yesterday, the 17th year since a friend was murdered in a brutal and public way in the UK when I was living there. A pub called the Admiral Duncan had a bomb with nails packed around it placed inside the front door on a busy Friday night about 6:30pm. They were ‘lucky’ that only three people died. A huge number were left with atrocious injuries but one of my friends died. He lives in my head now, the first gay man I had ever been friends with, who helped me understand his world. My two friends who went through the whole experience as well – funerals, publicity, interviews with Scotland Yard, appointments with victim support – one still lives in the UK, the other in New York. Usually on this day, April 30th, I will send them both a message and because Australia is where it is, I get to April 30 long before they do. But yesterday I didn’t send a message. Some form of apathy, of tiredness struck me and I just thought I’d let it go and remember Nik in my own way.
I started writing this post this morning (on May 1st) and then I received a message from New York. I guess my point is that the other side of the friendship feels it too.