Melissa Coburn on special friendships that last more than one season

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A multicolored thick book titled Upcoming Adventures sitting on the lowest shelf. When I was five years old, I had no idea that the new freshman girl would become a friend for life. We got off to a rocky start, based on my friend’s speech at my 21st birthday party (fantasy and fairy tale themed) when she said I hadn’t not allowed to play atop the arched monkey bars. (I don’t remember denying him access, but I do remember loving that leadership position, so I guess it’s possible.)

So many people in our lives come and go. But others still seemed marked for us, an ever-present indefinable energy that made the connection sparkle.Credit:Pierre Tarasiuk

What I remember clearly though, is the strong girl she was (and is), with a knack for getting along with everyone, a girl whose energy and playfulness seemed to light up people around from her. When I had appendicitis in 6th grade, she was the one I chose to sit with me in the fresh air while waiting for my mom to pick me up. And I still have the pretty little vase with a violet painted on it that her mother gave me, full of violets, when she came to visit me in the hospital.

We went to different high schools but our paths crossed on the morning tram when she had early morning singing rehearsals. They crossed again on their way to college in a rumbling, sighing bus through inner-city suburbs.

So many people in our lives come and go. Some will never advance beyond an outer edge of friendship and a lack of closeness usually sees such connections evaporate. But others still seemed marked for us, an ever-present indefinable energy that made the connection sparkle. When we are young, we think all friendships will be like this, but over the decades we realize that these friendships are rare and very, very precious.

Such friends hold homologous memories and surprise us by saying things that trigger access to forgotten vaults in our minds, releasing snippets of memory that rise to the surface like brightly colored balloons.

As I write this from my bed, sick with the flu, my voice as deep and hoarse as a gangster’s, my friend’s duvet is spread over my doona, its cheerful colors pleasing to the eye and the care which is woven into it equally comforting.

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