On A Train To Ballarat

Long Overdue Reunion With Best Friend

Waiting for the train to Ballarat

Taking a train to Ballarat in regional Victoria gave me time for some quiet reflection on the events of the last few days. One day I was thinking about unpacking from my recent trip to New Zealand; the next day I was in Melbourne, on a train that was taking me about an hour and a half out of the city to see my best friend.

We met in our first year of high school, and have been best friends ever since. We’ve managed to keep in touch over the decades, despite our lives having taken different directions as we each pursued our dreams. And now, despite the vast geographical distance between us, we are still as close as we ever were.

I knew that over the next twenty four hours – all the time that we had to indulge our memories – the old and the new would flow; memories merging with the tales of new trails blazed. While walking to Southern Cross Station I spotted an old building, still beautifully preserved, but surrounded by new construction. It reminded me of the journey of our friendship.

The Old And The New

The memories of old are the central focus amid the construction of the new.

The new lives we have carved out are built on the strength of the foundation of the early days. Our teenage years were filled with the usual events – a weekend train trip to a distant destination; falling in and out of love; and both of us marrying at a young age – my marriage to a member of the Australian Air Force, and hers ‘to’ the Royal Australian Air Force. She decided that if I was going to be travelling around the country on postings, she was coming too; sadly, we were never on the same base. And neither marriage stood the test of time.

My dream to become a teacher eventuated, and in true kindred spirit, my best friend followed. At least this time we both landed jobs in the same school. For the best part of two years we were inseparable. We taught together, we planned together, we laughed together, and we consoled each other through the rough patches, and believe me, there were some rough patches.

Miraculously, both of us came out the other side, relatively unscathed but in search of bigger and better dreams. Dreams that were vastly different and led us to places that were further away from the little town we grew up in. My dreams took me around the world; hers took her to Victoria. She was always the more grounded one of us.

Best Friends Forever!

I can’t say that our different lives haven’t changed us, because they have; after all, it’s our life experiences that mould us into who we are. But the essence of our beings, the very core of who we are, is heavily impacted by the experiences of our formative years. They are the solid foundation from which the new becomes possible. The memories will be the old, surrounded by the new that our different lives have created.

That is how it is with us, and that is how it should be.

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