A decade ago, we had to give up my daughter’s gorgeous Lab, Gemma, because divorce…
“They’re my cheer squad. They’re the people who offer emotional First Aid when things crumble, and who are first to their feet, clapping when things go well.”
On closing night of the musical that my friends Sally, Ness and I recently staged, which was the culmination of a four-year creative journey together, I was lucky enough to have almost all of my closest friends in the room.
These are the long-suffering people who’ve watched the early videos of rehearsals, listened to my story ideas, calmed my fears and encouraged me, every step of the way. (It must be difficult at times, being friends with someone whose head is almost permanently in the clouds, or on a stage, or between the pages of a developing fictional story that often overwhelms reality, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for putting up with me!)
We’d finished the matinee performance and were milling about, vacuuming up the explosion of glitter from the cannon (crawling around on the floor doing this, actually, as the industrial vacuum cleaner had gone on strike) and preparing ourselves for closing night, when I was suddenly ‘needed’ out in the foyer.
There, I was met by the absolutely thrilling sight of my one of my dearest friends, and my business partner and co-author, Audrey who, with the help of a small band of co-conspirators, had flown in from Adelaide to surprise me. It was amazing and completely unexpected to see her standing there, when she’d only just wished me good luck on the phone!
Having Audrey there made me feel almost complete. The gang was almost all there. All but my oldest best friend, Lyndal, who’s from Melbourne and had only just posted a ‘wish we could be there’ message on Facebook.
This is the girl who put up with my lengthy story explanations when we were fourteen. The one who’d cheered me on for thirty years. She was the first person I ever spoke to about my desire to be a writer when I grew up, and the person who believed in me, even when I didn’t. Just writing these sentences, I started tearing up and had to phone her in Melbourne, only for her to say, ‘I’m loving your new story!’
She might be loving the story, but I love her. So much. Which is why it was almost completely overwhelming to turn around at the musical and see her standing there too! With her husband and three children, after they’d driven up from Melbourne that morning.
There was of course one person who couldn’t be there at the show—my husband Jeff. Nobody could ever replace his presence, but having Audrey and Lyndal there went a long way towards filling what will always be the deepest void in my creative life, as he’d been my chief supporter.
When you create something new, you tend to do it privately at first. Then there’s a very first step, where you show it to a small group of trusted people, for their gentle feedback (or, in my sister’s case, brutal, honest, much-needed constructive criticism — but that’s a whole other article).
This group of friends, sitting together in a row at closing night (and a couple of others who couldn’t be there) are my people. They’re my cheer squad. They’re the people who offer emotional First Aid when things crumble, and who are first to their feet, clapping when things go well. (Or, my sister’s case, bawling inconsolably because she’s so invested in a good outcome that when there is one she is a happy, emotional mess!)
Who are your people? Tag them and let them know.