|Joan (me) with her Darby (him). Read the other letters here.|
“So like, everything is the same, it’s just… in Russia?” you said to me about my latest adventure.
“Pretty much,” I replied.
You said, “That’s well boring.”
I’m sorry my big brave life-changing trip isn’t more emotionally traumatic, friend. I’ll try harder to provide you with Skype calls that have a little more erratic feeling next time. Except – not really. Because that’s the thing, you see. Why I adore you. You don’t need me to be in turmoil to love me: you don’t desire drama to feel needed. You have no want to see me in pain or angst so that you can feel better about your own days.
And mate, it’s staggering, actually, how many people *do* need those things in a friendship. It marks you as different. But then, I knew you were. I don’t know how many times I have to re-learn that.
I haven’t written to you for almost a year, and so it’s important to me, after our cross-country catch-up last week, to tell you: I forget how incredible you are until I remember, and then it floors me all over again.
But I mean, listen. I was so fucking mad at you before I left. You didn’t come to see me! YOU DID NOT COME AND SAY GOODBYE BEFORE I LEFT FOR RUSSIA. You asshole! You sent a text saying, “Ah, be reet. See you in Bali or summat next year.” And I have continued to be enraged at you as I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Signature of All Things” on the plane, a book that you promised to buy for me after I took you to her talk at the Southbank Centre OH ABOUT A FOURTEEN MONTHS AGO NOW but tick-tock, tick-tock, homeboy, I’ve had to purchase that beast for myself because, to reiterate: YOU ASSHOLE.
You’re lucky that I see how you are with me. I know that your response to my bitching is gonna be the smug emoticon face and then a link to a naked boy or similar, because you just do not put up with my shit. I push you and push you and push you, waiting for you to turn around and say, “You know what, Laura? I’m done here.” And you don’t. You don’t ever even come close. And that is testament to your endless good grace. Not just with me, but with the world at large. I am forever trying to live up to your example.
I know that I’m a handful. More than a handful. I’m difficult and demanding and confusing and you just… roll with the punches. Not once, ever, have you told me that I am doing life wrong. That by being myself, I’m doing it wrong. Do whatever you wanna do, baby gurl, you tell me, over and over. It reminds me of what my very best pen friend once said to me: it’s the right thing to do because it is what you are doing, she wrote.
She can’t wait to meet you, by the way.
I get that a lot. Whenever I come to know somebody through this blog they always ask about you. “Your letters to Calum,” they tell me, and I roll my eyes and then I’m all “Yeah, if you meet him he will be your favourite so I just have to deal with his adorableness for the rest of my life, I guess.” You are so loved. Do you know how loved you are?
You’ve been through a fucking awful time this year. I’ve never seen you so defeated, so utterly beaten by the never-ending battle of putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, to exist. It rendered me impotent. Useless. I did what I could, and it was never enough. But I tried. I prayed for you every single night, right before I went to sleep, and the day that you finally got help for a sliding descent into a very serious depression, I thanked the universe for helping you to help yourself that way. For allowing help to come from others, too. For it all.
It was the bravest I have ever seen you, and I’ve seen you shave your head on video camera. I’ve watched you fend off the advances of a gay bear twice your size and three times as drunk. The way you navigated your mental health was bolder and more inspiring than that time you finished the pic n mix, even though you were one more yellow belly snake away from throwing up.
You went to the absolute edge of humanness, and found it in yourself to give it one last fight. Another swing. And it’s brought you back higher, more able, better, than you’ve ever been.
The most unnerving of lows, and the most dizzying of highs.
I love you in them both.
Yours in awe, and forever,