I see these friends once every two months. The wait between the times we see each other seems like an eternity compared to how often we saw each other when we first met as team mates at the local hockey club. Back then (more than a decade ago) we would see each other two times a week at training and at the weekend game. Further to this we would also often socialise together on the Saturday night if our game was that day. Four times every week we knew we would have the opportunity to hear each others news and spend time together.
As the years passed, our lives have developed along various paths. Some of these friends are still playing hockey but most of us have stopped playing the game. While the sport was originally the 'glue' that brought us together we now enjoy spending time together as long-term friends; catching up over lunch, supporting each other and sharing some great belly laughs!
Amongst this friendship group, some are married, some have young children, some are studying, many are working full time or part time, and we live in various suburbs and towns that span more than 250km. One of them has a 10 week old baby, another is due to give birth to her second child in only 10 days, yet another is facing an unknown and potentially serious health issue, while another was thrilled to be able to announce the news of her recent engagement today.
In summary, everyone is on their own path in life. However what I realised today is that despite this fact, it is still important to each of us to make the effort every eight weeks to come together and maintain the friendships that have been developed over many years.
I am sure that these will be some of the friendships I will be relying on down the track during difficult times that the future may hold.
I believe another benefit of maintaining these friendships is the example it sets for my step-daughters. When they heard that I was going to lunch today without dad, they were very concerned and asked 'but what will dad do?'. I realised when they asked that question that they see us do everything together as a family and as a couple, so I can understand why this thought would come to them.
However I believe it sets a good example for them to see either my husband or myself making time to maintain friendships. I know it can be very easy to build a life as a couple and in doing so let some of your own interests and friendships that you held as a single person, fall by the wayside.
I have reflected on this recently and made the conscious decision to try and better nurture some of my pre-married friendships more. Having made that decision not long ago today's lunch was perfectly timed.
I am looking forward to growing old and grey with my husband, but I am also looking forward to growing old and grey surrounded by my good friends. I am sure we'll be able to find just as many reasons to share a belly laugh when we are 75 as we do now. And by then I dare say I will appreciate their friendship even more than I do now.
Merewyn Foran is married and a marketing director of a not for profit homelessness agency in Melbourne.
Merewyn Foran's archive of previous articles can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/merewyn-foran.html