Friday, 16 January 2015

To You~ Second Last Row Friend

(Back-story: There are all sorts of  absurd loves and soul-mates out there for each one of us. Few of these will be romantic.
This is a letter a forgetful friend asked me to write. She wanted to wish her school friend a happy birthday and to remind her school friend that of all the things you forget, there are far more details that you don't. Oh, and she's also sending over some cupcakes.)

To You,
Second Last Row Friend

I’m not entirely sure when we first became friends. Most of my school memories just begin, as if the events had already happened, as if there exist no starting points. Maybe those are only reserved for adult life: starting points, formal handshakes and dramatic goodbyes.
From the time I remember you in class 6, we were friends. Your geometry box was always missing a protractor and you always had to have mine.

Our friendship was never marked and outlined by school favoured terms like “best”, “oldest” and “favourite”. We didn’t even spend every day of recess together. And yet, I don’t have many memories of school without you in them.

We’re young women now. Older, beautiful, less awkward, more innocent than we’ll admit to even ourselves and still holding onto wisps of ideals we decidedly marked as ours somewhere during Political Science and Biology.

It’s your birthday, next month. I’ve missed a few over the years, pretending that I was buried under my Masters dissertation, a new country and lack of phone credit. In truth, I had forgotten, in the everyday-ness of my new life, I had forgotten to wish you.
Something if you’d have predicted 11 years ago, I would’ve sworn would never happen and then would’ve promptly gotten mad at you for assuming this of me. We’d only have spoken next when I’d have wanted to borrow your notes, unless they were Physics, in which you were abysmal, and thankfully has nothing to do with your current profession.

I’ve wafted in and out of your life, at whim, mostly mine. But this didn’t in any way stop me for noticing, loving and (as you’ll discover when you read on) lecturing you.

Happy birthday, old friend, these are just somethings I want you to know:

- That more than anything else, I am proud of you. I’ve seen you when you were a gangly teenager, full of yourself and ridiculously awkward at the same time. I wasn’t paying attention when you slipped into and learnt the easy grace with which you carry yourself and your many achievements. You’ve struggled, as we have all, but unlike many of us, you’ve remained brilliant and grounded. I know if I asked you how you’ve done this, you’ll probably crack a fart joke and look at me like I’m insane.

- Which makes me think, darling girl that a part of you also is. You must’ve slipped and hit your head on concrete while you weren’t looking. Why else would you put your heart, time and time again, in harm’s way by falling for married men? Which Tuesday afternoon did you decide to give up on yourself, label yourself ragingly Anti- marriage and then proceed to have your heart jerked around by men who shouldn’t even be allowed to look your way? 

The 16 year old girl I knew would be aghast, scared and upset to know this. I want to give both you and her a hug, and tell you kids, that no matter what you do, you’ll be okay. There is no happiness to be had in pretending you’re done with love and then falling for a married man. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re a commitment-phobe only because you’re afraid commitments made to you will be broken. Like the kind other men made and break with your help. 
You’re not afraid of the strength of your own commitment darling, you’re just afraid of your heart being broken. Don’t be, I’m around, you’ll be okay. And if you’re not, we’ll get a drink and I’ll tell you a fart joke.

- It was a few years ago, when we were having coffee. “What would you want to be born as, in your next life?” I only asked the question because I wanted to tell you how I wanted to be Beyonce. Except you said: To be so beautiful, that when I walk into a room, men turn around and look at me, and I can then use this power. 

 I barely said anything then, I even forgot to tell you how Beyonce was my spirit animal. But I’ll say it here-- You’re beautiful in this life, you complete idiot. Your bone structure could grate cheese and despite having had braces in school, you have the most unapologetic, full laugh I've ever known. You’re also beautiful because you’re kind and generous but I know those things don’t figure high in your rebirth list, so I’ll remind you: gorgeous cheekbones, sickeningly shiny hair which never needed conditioner and eyes full of questions and part evil. 
 Also, next time find your own friend to insult.

- You’ve managed to love your parents better than most of us think we do. You don’t love them in your heart, in your words and in that obvious, dormant way that most people do. You love them actively, through paid phone bills, making sure your dad gets to experience travelling first class, planning vacations, assuming responsibility and always always worrying if they’re proud of you. Trust me, they’re aware of what a fantastic kid they made.

- You’ll turn a year older than me. Your parents wonder when you’ll marry. You swear you never will, “unless it’s because all my jerk friends get married and then I have no one to hang out with. I’ll marry someone, only then”

To all of that garbled garbage you spout- you’ll marry when you have to, when it’s right and in your own time through your own mistakes. Like you've done and managed spectacularly so far. Whichever way you make your next ridiculous or award-winning decision, just know one thing: I’m in your corner, cheering you on and rolling my eyes at you.

Also, I’m pretty sure you owe me money for all the protractors you stole and lost.

With love,
Your friend who managed not to miss your birthday.

(To You is a letter writing project I started because there are not enough letters and love going around. If you have something to say with love-- for your ex girlfriend, you current husband, pizza (promise not to make it cheesy), your landlord who let you skip rent or even Ryan Gosling-- I'll write that letter for you.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten/typed on a typewriter and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion.
Give me a shout at: )