We had a big week last week. A packed program, as they say. Cultural events and a bit of getting out amongst the nature. It wasn’t planned that way just a series of fortuitous coincidences.
It started out on Tuesday night with Opera on the Harbour, then on Thursday we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art, and finished up on Saturday with a visit to Royal National Park. The thing that tied all these activities together was friendship.
This is a much busier program than we normally attempt in a week, and it got me to thinking about our wide group of friends, and the nature of friendship. Each of these outings came about because we needed an excuse to hang out with our friends. Not that you should need an excuse to hang out with your friends, but having an event, or an outing provides an excuse, and a framework. Even though all you’re doing really is feeding and watering your relationships. But it’s an important thing to do.
The Opera on the Harbour outing came out of the blue. Mark – the dog park friend who has become a real friend – works with them as a volunteer each year, and he had a couple of complimentary tickets, that he gave to us. What a treat. Turandot. We’re not really opera fans as such, but we are always up for a spectacle. And that’s what we got, along with a backstage tour guided by Mark, a lovely meal watching the sun set behind the city, and then some great music, a flaming dragon, and even some fireworks. What more could you ask of a Tuesday night?
The Thursday night outing was with Roy and Jill. A renewal of our lapsed cultural program, this time in the form of a visit to the Grayson Perry exhibition at the MCA, followed by a fair old natter, and a bit of eating and drinking.
I didn’t know anything about Grayson Perry, so wasn’t sure what Strop was so excited about. In fact I thought he was a woman, even before I saw photos of him dressed as one. His art is clever and funny and engaging, but I found it oddly unmoving. Certainly the craft of it is wonderful, particularly the pottery and the tapestry. His work reminded me of the Gilbert and George, and also of Reg Mombasa and the Mambo artists. But it left me a little bit cold. I’m not sure what it is, but it seems to me that Reg Mombasa and Gilbert and George have more poetry, or warmth, in their work. It was certainly worth the visit though, a large and varied exhibition.
Afterwards we went upstairs to the restaurant and were able to sit outside after Strop and Jill had wrangled a table for us. The food was good and there was plenty of wine, but I can’t really remember much about it as we were too busy catching up. That’s what you do with friends I guess, fill in the blanks, add to the ongoing story that friendship creates. Twining the threads together, our lives, our families, other friends.
Our visit to Bundeena in the Royal National Park was another chance to catch up with an old friend. We have known Wendy longer than the others, and we see her less frequently, but it’s amazing how you slot back into the old rhythms. I think we all tend to imagine ourselves as we used to be in our 20s, especially when we’re with the friends that we met during those times. It’s good to be reminded that we are all ageing together, our threads fraying and fading. We had a lovely walk through the bush with Wendy, ate chicken rolls overlooking the ocean and the rocks, then got naked at a beach we used to haunt. It was good to strip off and get in the water again, even if there is a lot more of us now. Paler and more wobbly, but still us. The swell and the rocks threatened to be unkind to our soft, old bodies, so we didn’t stay in very long. Retreating to the beach, we dug in the sand and talked and remembered.
I was struck by how each of these outings were based on unrelated friendships from different parts of our lives. Friendships that only intersect with me and Strop. At first I thought it was a fragmented bunch of relationships but now I think of it as a fabric, or a web, each of us a focal point through which other people’s threads pass. For someone like me who needs time alone, it’s good to be reminded how important maintaining those threads is.