My oldest friend and I recently discovered that we were walking at the same time, most days, in different parts of the same city. So she altered her route to fit mine and happily, we walked together a few mornings a week. It’s been so long since we had regular catch ups—about twenty years in fact, when we lived together as uni students, and these days it’s a rare thing to have your routine fit with a good friend. Usually we’re all doing slight variations of the same things at slightly different times. So this little bit of happenstance was just a delight. We spent the first few weeks catching up on one another’s news, the next few weeks delving behind the news, then by the end we were sharing podcast reccommendations, world views, observations, thoughts on books. All along there were lots of laughs.
And then, as so happens in these busy years, she got a new job and couldn’t join me anymore. I still walk, the same route, but without her. I listen to music or news or podcasts instead. Suzanne Vega singing Tom’s Diner accapella straight into your earholes is pretty great, but Suzanne is not my friend, not the kind I can grumble about motorbikes with, or laugh with at inappropriate moments. So I miss my walking friend.
There’s been a lot of things she and I would have remarked on since she left. Things probably not worth saying out of the context of a morning walk, which is a shame, because the freshly clipped hedge in Grosvenor St is worth a comment. So was the big shaggy dog that shook his water at me on Marieville Esplanade. Some of these things I say to her anyway, in my head, because (as I heard on a lovely Podcast called The Fitzroy Diaries) your friends are with you even when they’re not…
I hope you’re new job’s going well, and that you’ve found someone lovely to talk to. I haven’t got anything much to share. Oh except, you know that tortoiseshell cat we saw, the one languishing in someone’s garden near the uni? Well last week there was a notice on a tree saying he was missing, beloved and called Winter. And to please help find him. I called to say I’d seen him two days earlier, again near the uni and the owner messaged me back the following day to say he was found. “A student took him home,” she said. “He just loves uni.”
There is daphne everywhere. The scent of it takes me spinning back to the Derwent Valley gardens we grew up in. And the camellias! They suddenly all bloomed over this last weekend. It’s as if someone gave them all a huge fright in the dead of Sunday night and they all went POP! They have quite startled look about them. In another week they will start leaping from their branches and brightening up the footpaths.
And have you noticed that the UTAS emblem is a red lion licking a raspberry ice cream? If you haven’t, you will now, he’s everywhere, tongue out, ice cream all melty. I can’t believe we haven’t noticed this before, I mean, we went to UTAS! We had happy times there; no wonder with all that ice cream. What a cheery logo.
The other day there were some tradies up ladders outside a building down near the waterfront. As I passed them I heard one say, “You know what we should have done, in hindsight?” The next day I passed them again and heard, “I don’t even know how we did that.” I think I might avoid entering that particular building. They seemed to be fiddling with electrics.
I passed a person whose name I should know, who knows my name, and has the good manners and kindness to smile and say, “Hello Meg.” I did that thing where my voice gets really bright and overzealous to compensate for forgetting a name. “Hello there!” That thing. Which is possibly better than than adding a coughy sort of mumble in place of the name (“Hello AhemMsgjgfybdwmm”), which is another tact I have tried before. Awks. Must try harder with name memory.
And there was a man at the pedestrian lights who nearly scratched his bottom but did a last minute check behind him, saw me, and thought better of it. I felt bad because he probably had a very annoying itch and people should be allowed to scratch bottoms just as they scratch arms or flanks or chins.
I saw a pigeon with neck markings that looked just like a spotty scarf my great aunt used to wear.
And I forgot to tell you about the starey smiley girl, who is the reason I take that slightly slippery detour at a certain part of the walk. For a few weeks I passed her at the same place in the same street, and she’d watch me coming with a great big smile and very wide eyes, as if she was about to say something. What a friendly girl, I thought when I first saw her. But after a while, when she never did say anything but still smiled and stared, I wondered whether she might be a member of a cult or something. No one is consistently that smiley, are they? And those eyes? And then I wondered whether she might be a ghost and I was one of the few people who could see her, hence the expectant stare. Was she waiting for me to rescue her from the neverafter? I got a bit spooked and had to walk another way after that. Probably very unfair.
And this is the point at which I know you’re a good friend because I can tell you this stuff and we can have a little laugh and you won’t think I’m bonkers. And even if you do, you’ll say, “Anyway, have you finished that book yet?” and we’ll just walk on and say something about someone’s roses or what the weather on the mountain’s doing or something, you know how it is…
Anyway, I miss you. You know where I am at from Tuesday to Friday at 8 am. I’ll see you soon and if not, we’ll chat anyway. Isn’t friendship great. xx