When FRIENDS burst onto the scene in the mid-90s I devoured it with an appetite I hadn’t had since TV shows were named after addresses in California. Of course, I wasn’t alone – it was a juggernaut. It was refreshingly funny, it was aspirational, it was Seinfeld for Generation X. I can still watch any episode and laugh out loud; it’s my go to viewing when I am stuck on a long flight and all the movies are rubbish.
And while so many people were saying, “I wish I had friends like that,” I actually did. My uni friends. I loved the show back then, because it depicted the types of friendships I had in my 20s.
We were a theatre crowd. We smoked socially, precociously kissed each other ‘hello’, and we danced until the wee hours, sweaty, grinning, wrung out and happy. We had sing-alongs where someone played a guitar – yes, really. We were poor, so we shared plates of chips, our beds – mostly just to sleep – and our cars. Someone would always let you crash at their place or give you a ride. We drank gallons of tea and instant coffee, and ate Vegemite toast for breakfast, capping off impromptu sleep-overs. We sipped on cheap wine – Chardonnay and Cab Sav – thinking we were so sophisticated. I remember a stint of gin and bitter lemon on hot summer nights.
We fell in and out of love with each other, and crushes changed almost weekly. We were beautiful and talented, self-conscious, eager, brilliant, and naive. We discussed important things with the passion and youthfulness of those who had only just discovered Marx, and Freud and Steinem. We still are beautiful, talented, and brilliant, by the way.
We numbered more than 6, but our large group was fluid and many of the friendships forged then still run deep today. The others are there, vibrant in my thoughts, nostalgic bursts of happiness. We have struck out into the world, spanning all continents bar one (I haven’t heard any news of old friends taking up residence in Antarctica – yet). We have become parents, partners, spouses, actors, teachers, writers, intrepid business owners, corporate wizkids, and culinary geniuses. We even have a real life Ross and Rachel who married in a glorious beachside wedding in the noughties, and now have two gorgeous little boys. And there are other lovely couplings from those days who have made lives and families together.
I freely admit to having the hugest crush on Ross – the one on TV, not his counterpart who married my best friend from uni. Ross was thoughtful and loving, incredibly smart, and sexy as anything; the man rocked a turtle neck. And the very best thing of all, is that in my late 30s, I met a guy like Ross. Only he’s also got the wit of Chandler. So, in other words, I hit the jackpot.
I love my uni friends – from afar when we’re apart, via Facebook (which for all its criticism, is my tether to friends around the world), and when we’re sitting down to coffee, or sharing a decent bottle of wine, or eating a great meal. It feels the same. The laughter is still deep, the love is still strong, and they are so very dear to me.