Can lost friends be found?

It’s amazing how quickly it becomes normal to have a child attending high school.

After less than a week, it’s already the eldest’s natural home. How on earth was she attending primary school less than two months ago?

She looks – and acts – far too grown up for such child-like pursuits.

She’s also loving her new school. Well, at least I think she’s loving it. She’s never been the most chatty of kids when it comes to stuff like that.

But I’m getting lots of “awesome”s when I ask how things are going.

I’m trying to remember how I felt when I made the leap from year 6 to year 7. It’s very, very blurry. Though I expect it’s crystal clear for my friend Megz, who is blessed with a photographic memory of the ’80s.

I recall a certain amount of trepidation about heading to Kotara High, triggered by urban myths about bullies sticking new arrivals’ heads in toilet bowls or – heaven forbid – pinging their bra straps.

My primary school graduates merged with two other schools in adjacent suburbs to create our “form” and I made new friends in the enlarged melting pot.

One of my besties was a girl named Estelle.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Estelle since my eldest started high school and I’ve been sharing the stirred memories with DD.

Estelle was a Plymouth Bretheren and wasn’t supposed to associate with dodgy Baptists like me. But our like minds overcame our disparate religious backgrounds and we became great mates during school hours, despite being banned from seeing each other outside the schoolyard.

During school holidays we’d write long letters that discussed everything other than religion.

We drifted apart when her church forced her to leave high school in year 10, despite her being highly intelligent.

Years later, she made the incredibly tough decision to leave the Plymouth Bretheren community and was excommunicated by her family and friends.

She fell in love with an American sailor and moved overseas to start a new life. Our friendship renewed and I travelled to the United States to visit her.

But that was in the sporadic days of contact before Facebook, when international calls were prohibitively expensive and life got in the way of letters.

Our friendship sputtered out again, but I never forgot her. When I moved to New York I tried to arrange a visit, but she was elusive. Her marriage had broken up, I think she was studying to be a lawyer.

Proposed dates to meet would come and go without confirmation.

I let it slide: I wasn’t well; I had two small children.

I moved back to Australia and haven’t had contact with Estelle since.

I miss her. I admire her strength and courage and intelligence.

DD reckons I should try to track her down. He’s offered to help me search.

He’s a good man.

I like the way he challenges me to leave my comfort zone and actually DO stuff.

I hope I find Estelle. It would be good to exchange war stories.

I get the feeling she’ll have landed on her feet.

4 thoughts on “Can lost friends be found?

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  1. Alana, your DD sounds special. I remember the Plymouth Bretheren. I lived at Garden Suburb and many of the congregation lived there; their church was in the bush in the area. They wore headscarves and long skirts and all drove the same brand of European car but old models – can’t remember what it was.

  2. Estelle sounds like a really strong person. I hope you can find her. Definitely worth the effort.
    It’s easy to lose touch with people from school. I moved cities to go to uni and lost touch early on (pre Facebook). Occasionally you come across some one from uni and is fun to catch up. With one friend we just used nicknames throughout the 4 years of uni and never proper names. Even though we were share housing for most of that time, when I saw him 15 yrs later I called him his nickname (and then realised I didnt know his name). Very awkward. At least we both laughed about it.

    1. How amazing to have never used each other’s real names!!! I can’t imagine having Estelle’s strength to walk away from her family, I know it was incredibly tough and heartbreaking for her.

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