Rhiannon has gone! The traitorous wench found a great job with a work permit so she's moving to London.
We keep telling people that it feels like a divorce. I've seen the rolling eyes, I know they think we're being melodramatic. But you have to understand I'll no longer be near someone who finishes my sentences, instinctively knows when to buy chocolate on the way home, and is my best friend.
Growing up we weren't as close, but there was always an unspoken solidarity. We would exchange bemused glances and raise eyebrows as our various parents threw tantrums and houseplants and did crazy things.
We went our separate ways for university, but finally in 2000 we both ended up in Canberra. The Mothership phoned the day after we moved in together. Rhi was downstairs and I was perched on my bed with the extension. It was the usual Mothership fodder – local gossip, recaps of Oprah episodes, tales of wayward students that she had to Skin Alive or Put Bombs Under. Without realising, separated by stairs and salmon pink carpet, we were responding with the exact same mindless phrases. In the exact same tone. In perfect unison.
Right. Yes. Hmmm? Oh I see. Innnteresting.
"WHAT is going on?" demanded The Mothership, "Are you two being facetious? You're picking on me! Already!"
From that point on we were a unit. We compared twenty years of notes from our childhoods and discovered those shared experiences had given us the same warped humour and cynicism. We both loved to bitch and moan and laugh. We never had to explain anything to each other, because we always knew the backstory. We understood that the crappiest day could always be cured with a bar of chocolate and a trashy magazine. We also liked picking on The Mothership.
Just like retired old farts in a caravan, we had ROUTINES and we treasured them dearly. I chopped meat and vegies, she wielded the wok. I booked our gym classes, she ordered in restaurants. I picked up the Thai takeaway while she got the cutlery queued up the video. When I'd fart she'd say, Shall I reply? and let one rip too.
A favourite ritual was the weekly shop at Tesco. We were a precision shopping machine. We synchronised our watches, caught buses from our respective workplaces so we arrived at the same time, paused at the magazine rack, glided up and down the aisles with a shopping list that was ordered in harmony with the supermarket layout, then wasted half an hour browsing the chocolate so we'd have to run across the car park to make the bus on time.
Last Monday was The Final Shop. It was a rather emotional experience. We were dawdling in the car park, talking about jeans and how the ones with the "pre faded" stripes down the front make your thighs look fat, when suddenly our bus came barelling round the corner.
"Shauna!" Rhi screamed, "STOP THE BUS!"
I panicked, spinning the shopping trolley round in small and helpless circles. I am useless when asked to make a sudden movement. "Stop the bus? YOU stop the bus!"
Rhi bravely leaped out onto the street with manic eyes and outstretched arms, "SSSTOOPPP!".
Do you know how hard it is to find someone who'd stop a bus for you?
Last week I did a dress rehearsal Solo Shop. It was very traumatic. The checkout chick was merciless, flinging bananas and soup tins and expecting me to keep up with the plastic bags and grope for a debit card AT THE SAME TIME while a lengthy queue of snotty bastards looked on with pursed lips. For the past four years, Rhi had packed the heavy stuff while I took the fruit and veg, then she'd do the bread and loo paper and magazines while I handed over the cash. WE HAD A SYSTEM. How can you have a system WITH JUST ONE PERSON?
Rhi arrived in Sydney just one hour ago. She's there for a few weeks to visit friends and family, so it's all I can think about right now. She'll return for a few days in January when we'll fight over the frying pan and wage a bitter custody battle over the hairdryer, then that's it.
Things have changed dramatically these past four years and I owe so much of it my little sister. I am too rubbish to say this person, so I have to tell the WORLD on the internet. How do you like that logic. Anyway, indulge me for one paragraph.
When Rhi moved in I was very ill, depressed out of my skull, afraid of the world and generally an apathetic blob. If you've been kind enough to have read this blog since the very beginning, you may have noticed I've changed a lot since then. Rhi managed to see through my bullshit and encouraged me to take risks. She's always known when to kick my butt or when to bring home some icecream. Without her I doubt I would have found the guts to move to the Other Side of the planet. It's taken awhile, but I'm not scared of silly shit anymore, I don't lay awake worrying about what people think of me, I've learned to make things happen for myself. Without Rhi's coaxing I may have ignored the nagging voice inside that said I could do something with my life.
So sister dear, thank you for just being your brilliant, arse-kicking self and making every day so hilarious. We both knew this would happen. It's time to move on and we'll be fine. We have telephones, email and Easyjet. We both have everything in the world to look forward to.
When I asked Rhi how was I supposed to go on, she replied with the usual withering wit, "I have nothing left to teach you."
Sometimes you can just feel change in the air, people. It's as thick and heavy and inevitable as the yeasty dog-food fug that spews from the Fountainbridge Brewery. Change is a bit like a brewery, don't you think? It makes a lot of scary noise and it stinks like hell, but the end product is delicious and good for you.