I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be 10 years out of school and still have the same group of friends that made it fun. There is little doubt that a shared faith in the God of the Bible and a very social church life has contributed to that. No doubt too, is the shelter of the Shire. I wonder, though, what will the next 10 years hold.
1997 through to 2002, those formidable years most of us spent at The Jannali High School, are a series of obscure memories to me. I remember skateboarding with Matt McKenzie most afternoons in junior high. I remember can hockey in the back hall of the church, or sock soccer. I remember hitting a year 10 kid in the face for continually playing his high pitched ring tone. I still feel bad about it, sort of. I remember going rock climbing on Thursday arvos with Scotty B and Kelly or hanging out with Angela, wondering if everyone was right, and if we would get married (we did, for those following along at home). I remember swapping my home made sandwiches for potato pies with Jumbo, and trying but failing to be friendly with Jamie.
After school finished, so many of us got involved in the church, many through youth group. Those that didn’t, sort of got lost, and I’m not sure how much we even cared. In our zeal to reach the unsaved populations of high school kids, we forgot the mates who helped make us who we were. Still, life rolled on, we made new friends in the church, as is a part of life. At Easter we would head down the coast camping, slowly organising ourselves a little better each year, mostly relying on the Wintons to bring the things we didn’t. “Ahh, Maddie, do you have any butter and bread… and a knife? What about honey and a plate? Oh and a chair?”
At Christmas, we’d all head down to Cronulla for Ironman, a somewhat awesome tradition where thirty blokes plunge into a rock pool, splash about and tackle whoever looks like they’ll win. I got pretty close to winning once, too, but that was just practice for this year. Sometimes we’d all hang out Mum’s place, when it was still also my place, or we’d drive all the way to Penrith for Krispy Kreme. Man, I love Krispy Kreme.
Eventually people started getting married, and didn’t that change things. Instead of hanging out in houses, we went to restaurants and cafes. Remember the Percolator? We all had jobs and had started to acquire responsibility. Instead of hanging out until sometime in the AMs, we head home before midnight, or even 11. Sometimes we wouldn’t even go out at all.
Now, some of us have kids. Some of us don’t even live in the Shire. I still remember naively saying that I would never leave. Now I don’t want to go back. As I look around at our tight-knit group of friends, some who we have known since primary school and beyond, I mourn for the regularity of get-togethers, the closeness of friendship, the freedom of (and I don’t want to say it) youth. Mostly I just miss my friends, who are still my friends, but who I rarely find reason to call, and who are probably in the exact same boat. Maybe I should just get Facebook.
Apparently there’s a school reunion just around the corner, and a big part of me doesn’t really want to go. I went to a school reunion just yesterday; two, in fact. One in a park, with a BBQ and babies and exaggerated stories retold. Another with pizza, a couch, Terminator and four fellow escapees who no longer call Sutherland home.
But to this official one I will go, on the off chance any one of my friends will be there, because there never seems enough chance to catch up anyway. And maybe some of the others will be there, those that sort of got lost. Maybe it will be the turning point for the next 10 years, where every weekend is another BBQ, camping trip or get-together at a fancy restaurant. Maybe it won’t be. Probably it will just be another night, another memory and our friendships will continue through hard work, shared experience and a genuine love for each other, despite the tyranny of distance, or the scourge of lethargy. Here’s hoping, anyway.
Brendan, Angela, River and Asher
Oh, check out this gallery too. It spans about the last 10 years – click here