Dear Gem Gem,
As it type this, we are just days away from from our 7 year anniversary, can you believe it? 7 whole years! It feels just like yesterday that I watched you move into the room perpendicular to mine at the very beginning of our independent lives. Over the years we have had some adventures and while our lives have taken us to the opposite ends of the country, you still remain my best friend, having only forgotten one of my birthdays (I’ll never let you forget!).
I’ve been planning on writing this blog/letter for months and in that time, I’ve looked back on so many random thing that we used to do. Do you remember when we make rice crispy cake for Easter? Or how about our nightly routine of hot chocolate and mini marshmallows? There was that time we tried to host a Christmas dinner for our Ashenhurst housemates where we exchanged secret Santa gifts and Kelsey tried to eat a Yorkshire pudding with chopsticks (bless her). Despite the fact Mathew, Manraj, Becky (and her infamous departure from the house) and Kelsey all lived together, it was you and I that bonded the most.
Our countless ventures to Shake are a found memory of mine. How many flavours did we manage to cross off that list? Or how about our drips to Leeds where we’d spend a lot of time window shopping. And never actually buy anything? I have so many random memories of us just laughing I that kitchen, music up as we cooked food. I thought you were great. You were (and still are) so much like me. Just as introverted, just as silly and just as annoying. I remember you burnt your thumb not long after we all moved in and you chased me around the kitchen, blister first. It’s funny now but at the time it grossed me out. Probably why you took so much joy chasing me. I can’t remember if you burnt your thumb cooking our infamous crispy faijitas?
We decided to live together for a second year at uni and we looked at quite a few different properties. Ultimately we went for the sightless dearer one at the other end of Huddersfield but it was worth it just so we didn’t have to walk up that massive hill that would set your asthma off. It was a lovely little terrace house with overly friendly David who lived next door (I wonder if he’s still alive?). The downside was that our landlord live directly opposite us and I don’t think either of us really trusted him. We had right not to after he docked us £50 each because the oven wasn’t cleaned to his standard. I promise you I scrubbed that thing.
This house was a bit odd as it was mostly furnished but the living room was incredibly bare. You, my dear, Gemma, were the first person I ever went to Ikea with. It took us two attempts. The first time your car broke down and we had to get a lift back in a tow truck. That was quite entertaining from my point of view. The second time, you dad came with us. While he was staying with us, we went into the town and watched all the Tour De France cyclists pass as they did their Yorkshire leg of the race. That was incredibly. I think we were waiting for hours while different floats and organisations handed out free things (I was in heaven), just for the cyclist to all pass buy in a matter of seconds. It was an incredible experience though. We also had the infamous ‘Spoon’ argument at this house. I still stand by my original answer…
Admittedly, I abandoned you a but during this time. Caught up in a new relationship plus my unsocial placement hours meant I was hardly home when you were. I look back on this time and think of how foolish I was. My priorities weren’t in the right order. I feel like you tolerated a lot from me but if anything I think it gave us a stronger friendship. Perhaps this is why we have such a brilliant, low maintenance connection where we can go months without talking and seemingly just pick up where we left off. It’s what I cherish so much and it’s like no other friendships I’ve ever had.
After the house, we lived separately. You went back into uni accommodation and I needed to be near the train station as my next placement was further away. This seemed to work for us and I feel (I may be wrong) that this helped me priorities things better. I suddenly had to allocate time to spend with people because I was alone. We spent a lot of time in 3rd year just chatting at the park, often with a McDonald’s in tow. There are so many memories at Greenhead park. The time we took bubble wands up there and were entertaining random children or the time we were goofing around in the swings and seesaw and my jeans ripped… oh the embarrassment. But most of all, I just remember laughing, being updated on Bob’s relationship status or Georgia’s career. Or that guy who when to jail, what was his name? Justin, Julian? I honestly can’t remember anymore.
In 2016, while we knew it was coming, we moved away to the opposite ends of the country. My home was here in sleepy Norfolk and your parents had moved while you were studying to just as sleepy Dorset. We vowed to stay in touch and this is when my favourite tradition started; our postcards. For 4 years we have regularly send each other random postcards and I have saved every one you sent me. Some are from places we’ve visited, some are just funny pictures or random quotes. At the moment, you are much better at it than I am but I don’t explore as much as you. But nothing can express the joy I get when I see that little A6 piece of card on my doorstep after a long day at work. They are just little, personal tokens that say to me “I’m still here”. It has become quite a challenge to find the most interesting and outrageous postcards. They certainly can’t be plain or boring.
In 2017 we were reunited for a day we both visited London and discovered the huge 4 story Paperchase. Oh how I love that shop. What we didn’t know I’d that were actually in London the day the Westminster bridge attack happened and had been in that very spot only half an hour before. That’s certainly a unique memory to share. Later that same year me and the ex visited you, your family and Stonehenge. I really enjoyed this. I think I could have lost the ex a lot sooner but hey ho. It was great to see you somewhere that wasn’t university related and so also see where you called home. Your mum cooked us fajitas that night (I don’t know why I remember that).
In 2018 we went on our first holiday together, finally! 5 nights in an Air bnb with a lovely french couple in the heart of London. We crammed a lot into those few days. We went on a Jack the Ripper tour hosted by a very eccentric old lady followed by my very questionable choice of going to the Dreamworks studios… in my defence, it said fun for all the family! I really enjoyed this trip and it sits happily in my memory. It wouldn’t be until 2019 that I went to Bristol for the first time and saw you new place of residence. You showed me the zoo where you often practiced your photography and a piece of Banksy artwork that hung on the high street. Though I do admit that Bristol is very much a hipster city.
Finally, after years of knowing each other, we decided to go abroad to Spain, staying in your uncles villa. Oh god did I enjoy this trip! Sitting by the pool reading our books while eating cheese. We climbed up that big rock (the name escapes me) and looked down at old the boats in the harbour. We also visited Benidorm… we were both confused by the appeal. It was amazing and I often look back and think about the fun we had in that pool.
We have had so many adventures, Gemma. 7 whole years full of random shenanigans, plenty of laughter and some of the best hugs. You are the longest friendships I have ever had and even after all these years, I know you are always there for me. it’s the little things that really make this friendship. It’s the postcards, the memory of you always keeping an orange by the bed so that you’d be healthy but we’d both end up eating chocolate. I’ve watched you grow from this fresh faced 18/19 year old into a beautiful, intelligent photographer, business woman, traveller and friend to so many people. You are like a sister to me and I truly love you to the bottom of my heart.
Thank you for everything and never stop being you.