As for many people, my teenage years were framed with a handful of special friends with whom I journeyed through a turbulent adolescence. Over the years I’ve lost touch with most of these friends and wonder how they’re doing. Facebook is giving me updates on their lives, but not a chance to reconnect.
Today I bumped into one of these teenage ‘besties’. Literally. He was on the police line facing me in our morning blockade.
It was bizarre. I hadn’t seen him since I was a gangly girl, and he a bashful boy – crashing in our group in lounge rooms, and walking the streets in Geelong. And now here we were – me resisting the state, and he protecting it. Life had clearly taken us on different paths.
I went up to him and had the reunion that I’d imagined happening in somewhat different circumstances. I confessed that I had a big crush on him when I was at high school (in hindsight, a little unnecessary in front of his police colleagues). I remembered helping him carry his feret cage home from woodwork class in school; he remembered that I barrack for Collingwood (go ‘pies!).
It was yet another reminder of the shared humanity across the picket lines, which has been such a powerful feature of the week.
There has been more mutual respect between ourselves and police than I have ever experienced in protests involving arrests. This, however, made it much more personal. It made me reflect about how I came to be who I was – from that gangly girl to a woman who seeks to blockade a military base. About what it was that led me to this place, and my friend to his.
So as with every morning of the Convergence, I sung, talked about Afghanistan and sat on the road. But this morning there was something different that was present for me . . .
After the usual three rounds of refusing to move from the road and being carried off, I was arrested. I took the familiar ride in the back of the police van and into custody. My solitary time waiting to be processed brought back more teenage memories, and how they were significant in forming my life’s perspective: My desire to help those who struggled in their life situations; the passion that my new-found Christian faith gave me to make a difference in the world; my jobs in social work that made me think in new ways about the social and political situations we are in; role models that challenged me to wonder how I can work towards peace and justice in the world.
I took bail and returned to the gates of the base to chat to my old friend. Sitting amid the police trucks that were catering for the 180 police that are here to police us, we shared more about our lives – work, family, siblings.
We choose different places to be, and sometimes that places us in conflict with each other. And amidst this, we all stand together here in our humanity.