I’ve been going away with a group of friends over the June long weekend for about 25 years.
I’ve missed a few – for instance, when we lived overseas, and when I gave birth to my first child on the long weekend Monday (slack of me, I know) – but no one holds it against me.
The exact make-up of the gang varies each year, and over time has ebbed and flowed with the taking on of spouses and the addition of babies, most of whom are now teenagers.
One is getting married this year (don’t worry, she’s not one of the teenagers), which makes me feel pretty old.
People fly in from overseas and drive from far-flung parts of the country, just so they can be there.
We don’t do anything very fancy. We pretty much just sit around and drink coffee, go for the occasional bushwalk, and some of the sportier types step up to a run or a mountain bike ride.
But I’m not kidding when I say it’s one of the highlights of my year. Taken cumulatively, it’s one of the highlights of my life, I suppose.
In the earlier years, some of us may have wavered about turning up. Newborn babies, the cost when money was tight, and the plethora of other commitments in our very over-committed lives might have tugged on us.
But it’s become ‘a thing’ now. Something we budget for, block out in our calendars on a recurring basis and take into account when we plan holidays.
A few of them I see more frequently, but many I only see at that annual gathering.
It doesn’t really matter. As one of them said last weekend, “It’s like I saw you last week.”
It’s that long arc of friendship that does it, the stitching together of our lives through the years; just picking up a thread - even spread so far apart - is enough to keep us sewn together.
Funny thing is, we hardly ever take photos. It’s as if we know these memories, these people, will be etched on our hearts and minds regardless.