The last time we’d all been together we were fresh of face and hard of hair on account of our collective over-consumption and addiction to hairspray.
Sure some of us had caught up with others in the group over past 26 years.
Been to each other’s weddings. Been Godparents for our kids. Been supports through the worst kind of life events.
But we hadn’t all been together as a group, for no other reason than to CATCH UP.
Some couldn’t make it. Some we realised should have been on list are now on it for next time (and there will be a next time).
But the eight who did make it?
It was as if the 26 years melted away.
Conversations were picked up where they left off and did not stop until long after dinner had finished and the party had moved to a nearby bar.
A lifetime of happenings caught up on over four hours.
Our friendship story began in the late ’80s in the regional Queensland town of Maryborough.
It was my home town, where my dad was born, where I was born and where I spent most of my school years.
Maryborough called me back after finishing my uni degree. To a cadetship at Chronicle. My besties from uni, Clare and Nadia, joined me within four months.
I don’t think I realised how damn lucky I was at the time. To have my good friends with me at the start of our career.
We shared a house a few blocks from work – and the town centre – and it was that proximity to the “action” that saw our house become the place people went to after the lights came on and the drinks stopped being poured at the Royal Hotel’s Peaches Nightspot.
Once there via foot or shopping trolley, the vinyl was pulled out and put on in a very non-hipster-like fashion. Further dancing ensued. Oh the stories that post-war house could tell.
Plenty of toast, bacon and Moccona was always on hand as there’d always be a few extras for breakfast on a Saturday.
See, we were so damn lucky to start out our grown-up life in a country town.
There were few places to go out to, so when you did venture out you got to meet all the other young newcomers, who were also making their start in this thing they call adulthood.
Our friendship group extended beyond other journos to teachers, health professionals, valuers and town planners. Through their networks we met farmers, car sales reps, hairdressers, beauticians and business owners.
And because (apart from going to the pub) there wasn’t a lot on offer social wise, we made our own fun.
We formed a committee and fundraised for one of our friends competing in the Queen of Hearts quest. I’m sure the aim and good intention to raise funds for the National Heart Foundation was there but with benefit of age and hindsight, I can’t help but question, was our ulterior motive to have a full social calendar of fun things to do?
We organised everything from a pub crawl around the country pubs surrounding Maryborough to a garden party on the lawn of one of the town’s heritage-listed homes.
Aside from going to the pub or fundraising, dinner parties were our social activities of choice. Many of us were far from apprentice chefs but where there is a will for a social occasion, there is a way to turn a limited budget into a fun night in for friends.
Weekends were spent exploring Fraser Island, camping at Double Island Point, staying and fishing at Tinnanbar on the Great Sandy Strait and sailing in the Bay-to-Bay yacht race … all thanks to our new friends who came with the collective benefit of holiday homes and four wheel drives.
Hollywood came to town and we got to star* in a Hollywood movie alongside Kylie Minogue. And dance alongside her at the aforementioned Peaches Nightspot.
Brisbane beckoned with Expo ’88. The Festhaus and Plough Inn would never be the same after the Maryborough crew descended en masse.
This was an era long before social media. We weren’t even using computers at the newspaper.
Phones were attached to walls. If no-one was home when someone called it just rang out and you relied on them calling back later.
We didn’t use the phone too much to make long-distance calls. Too expensive.
We wrote letters to our friends and we waited for their letters back to find out what was happening in their lives.
Do I yearn to go back to those days?
If it weren’t for the advent of social media – and Facebook in particular – we wouldn’t have all been sitting there on Saturday night enjoying a fabulous meal and talking until our voices were hoarse.
We wouldn’t have heard about each other’s kids, some of whom are as old as we were back then. We wouldn’t have heard about the good things that have happened to each of us. We wouldn’t have heard about stuff that hit us for six.
No, I don’t want to go back.
But I’ll happily bring my memories, hairspray and bad ’80s dance moves to any gathering involving these chicks. And I’m always open for holiday home invitations.
* If 10 seconds as an extra counts as starring.
’80s dance floor gold
I did a bit of Googling and here are some of the gems you would have found us dancing to on any given Friday night. It really was a golden era for music, fashion and hair, yes? AHHH.
So tell me about your old friendships, friendships you made as young adults … do you still see each other? What do you remember most about them?