The London Notes: Birthdays and Friends

Day 1

You’re tired and you’re here and it was so easy and you can do it again, it’s okay.

The air smells like old fashioned England and everything is the same. It’s yours still. You know this place. It’s still home.

You buy a magazine before you leave the airport because that’s what you’ve done 20 times before and secretly, cheap magazines are your favorite part of this country.

You go to Joana’s and your body knows the way and everything feels right.

She’s there. It’s all the same. You’re okay.

She makes you a vegan lunch and she’s wearing a Christmas jumper and you are lucky and grateful to have a friend like her who hasn’t left since the day you met.

You don’t have to explain a thing, she just knows.

(Keep her forever.)

Does she know that when you meet new people, you try to be the kind of friend to them that she is to you? That you copy her and what she would do and you keep making friends so maybe it works.

(Keep her, keep her, keep her.)

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Day 2

It’s your birthday. You wake up sick and all your bones ache and you think it’s probably more.

It’s stress and pressure and heartbreak on top of it all.

You sleep all day and you feel like a bad friend and a shitty person, so you wrap your old duvet around yourself.

You know, the duvet that you ran out and bought when you started dating Danny and he wanted to come round, but you didn’t own proper blankets and were borrowing one from your crazy Kentish Town flatmate.

You made excuses to him about how you didn’t want to see him or have him over but really, you didn’t want to have to explain that London had left you so poor that you couldn’t afford blankets or pillows, let alone food, but that it didn’t matter because it’s still the best god damn city on earth.

You saved up money. You bought a duvet and pillows for you and him both (but you didn’t tell him that). You also didn’t eat that day, but love was around the corner so pillows felt more important.

So now – a year later – you wrap yourself up in that same old duvet and you head downstairs and Joana takes one look at you and knows everything.

She lights a candle in some carrot cake and sings you Happy Birthday and you record it and she yells at you not to show that to anyone and you love her so much.

You sleep in her chair because you are in a safe place with a duvet wrapped around you that represents hard times and love and there is a friend watching over you.

***

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It’s hours later and you gather your strength because Ed’s gig is tonight and you love his creative, talented mind like you’re sure no one else could.

You make your way to him and bad times from this year melt away and he hugs you and he understands it all.

He sings and he entertains and you clap and he is the coolest fucking guy you’ve ever known and he teaches you so many important things you had no idea about.

How to be brave and do scary things.

How to be a good friend. How to listen and how to be there and how to never ask for anything in return and just give.

How to have the patience of a saint with friends who can’t get out of their own way (me) and how to constantly show up for people because people matter and feelings are important.

How to dig deep and find your most creative parts and how to let them loose because creativity keeps us going when we think that maybe we can’t.

This friendship changed your path and there is no better place to be on your 32nd birthday than watching him on stage.

(Keep him.)

The gang shows up and people are kind and you are feeling lucky and grateful and loved and this is where you are supposed to be.

Happy Birthday.

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Day 3

Josh. He’s hilarious and kind and he gets me. He makes me laugh and there aren’t enough words in the universe to describe how much I love this kid.

Feelings run deep.

You meet up and one hour turns into five and that’s what happens with him and I hope it never stops. He’s good. So good.

You gin together and laugh together and you repeat every line that’s ever come out of your hungover mouths and he hugs you when tears fall and you never could have dreamed that being 32 could feel as good as this.

***

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