When it’s all downhill there’s always friends

By Riverine Herald

I DON’T know where I would be without my friends.
Or, if I am really honest, who I might be.
They pick me up when I’m down and laugh with me (and at me) when I put my foot in it (again); they support me when I’m feeling overwhelmed, they cry with me when I need that supportive shoulder and then encourage me when I am lacking in confidence.
And occasionally hold my hair back when I’m ill (self-inflicted and otherwise).
I consider myself to have been lucky enough to have shared a great many friendships down through the years.
From my first ever friend, Line Tange, who I met playing in the sandpit in Denmark (and recently found on Facebook), to my first school friend Lian Brown (apparently I wouldn’t stop staring at her in class because having just emigrated from Denmark I had never seen someone of Filipino descent before and I thought she was beautiful).
Those were easy friendships.
‘‘You live next door, let’s be friends’’ or ‘‘You’re pretty, want to be friends?’’
Your standards start to evolve by the time you reach high school; when you start hanging out with people similar to you or, in my case, as weird and wacky.
I remember desperately wanting to be friends with the girl who wore red stockings on Bastille Day.
She was daring and despite being laughed at by most other girls, I loved the fact she was different and could rock those red stockings (while celebrating my favourite country) without fear of ridicule.
She was my kind of gal.
And so Collette Hetherton became my high school bestie.
University had its ups and downs and after a year spent communally existing on college (never again), I moved in with a girl I went to high school with.
Funny thing is, we weren’t really friends at school and she actually despised me after our year 12 ski trip because I would constantly run over her skis during my manic high-speed skiing obsession.
But once we started living together, we discovered we actually had a lot in common, including our love of reading, intellectually stimulating conversations and, of course, partying.
We had some wild and crazy times during uni, but also some tough times but we were always there for each other.
The one thing I love about her is that she doesn’t judge. I can tell her anything without fear of judgement. And for someone like me — who has had her fair share of screw-ups — a friend like that is a rare and precious commodity.
Decades later and Lizzy Ford and I remain the closest of friends, despite the fact she is living thousands of kilometres away in Queensland.
But this week, she is making the long journey south — with her two children and father in tow — just so she can be there on opening night to watch me perform in ifThe Phantom of the Operanf.
And whether I pull off the performance of my life or I stumble and fall, she will be there to congratulate me or pick up the pieces.
Either way, I know one thing that I will have by the time she leaves is a very sore face — from too much laughing.
And after all (and all jokes aside), isn’t that what our best friends really are for?