For Katie

I have this friend called Katie, who is really ill. She has chronic pain, and is on a million-and-one medications I can’t even think about pronouncing. We met because I know her auntie, and that woman – equally as fabulous as her niece – thought that we’d get along.

I lost my sight three years ago in December, and was really struggling to keep going, and to instil within myself a more optimistic outlook. So, as exam season was just starting, she reached out to me, and we chatted for hours. It only took days for me to feel as though I’d known her a lifetime; although our disabilities are very different (as well as her pain, she is hearing impaired and has cerebral palsy), and the challanges we have to overcome are utterly dissimilar in every which way – she can’t imagine walking with a cane, I can’t imagine having to wear hearing aids! – we were able to bond and help one another to deal with any dark times that came our way.

Somehow, we muddled through exams, and we were both thrilled on results day – all our hard work had payed off! In the summer, I went to go and visit her at the seaside town where she lives for the day, and it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. We ate salty chips on the seafront and she laughed at my genuine petrification whenever a seagull so much as breathed too close to me, giggled as we soared over the waves in a speedboat, ate so much ice cream we could have exploded and spun round and around on insanely fast rides. I remember falling into bed that night completely exhausted, and spending the whole of the next morning in a fatigued, enervated trance, but nothing could detract from the amazing memories that we had shared that day.

The reason I’m writing this is because I know she’s really not too well at the minute, and because – as much as she smiles and jokes about being on drugs – I know that, sometimes, it’s hard for her. I  wanted to give her something that will always be here when she needs it, a reminder that she is strong, and beautiful, and the most wonderful, inspiring and motivating individual I have ever met.

I love you lots like jelly tots Defo Sepho – remember that, when times get tough, you will always have MC Blindie in your corner! You are absolutely fantastic, and I am so grateful to know you every single day. Never forget that you deserve the world, and should never be afraid to reach out if you need support. Keep fighting Katie.

Do any of you have friends that inspire you? Or, alternatively, are you going through a difficult time right now and need a friend to support you? If you need anyone, my Twitter DMs and email are always open.

Until next time,

Gracie 

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Waving Through A Window

I’ve learnt to slam on the brake

Before I even turn the key

Before I make the mistake

Before I lead with the worst of me 

She’s never been the quiet girl, the ‘I’ll sit and listen, I’ll hold my tongue’ girl, but recently? Recently, she’s been the silent girl, the ‘if you speak to me without warning I think my chest might implode’ girl.

Give them no reason to stare

No slipping up if you slip away

So I got nothing to share

No, I got nothing to say

You can find her alone, embarrassed despite the solitude, her mind never stops racing. Thoughts rush at her like race cars clad in boxing gloves, beating her down before she’s even been given the chance to try and fight them off. 

Step out, step out of the sun

If you keep getting burned

Step out, step out of the sun

Because you’ve learned, because you’ve learned

If she’s leaving the house she’ll prepare herself for hours: “You have to go to college, you will go. You’ll get up at 06.23am and you’ll brush your teeth, you’ll walk downstairs, you’ll-”

On the outside, always looking in

Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?

‘Cause I’m tap, tap, tapping on the glass

I’m waving through a window

I try to speak, but nobody can hear

So I wait around for an answer to appear

While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass

I’m waving through a window, oh

Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

‘Friend’ is a foreign word threatening to leap from the tip of her tongue, but always staying, huddled up – too scared to exit the sanctuary of her mouth – just along the walls of her oesophagus. 

We start with stars in our eyes

We start believing that we belong

But every sun doesn’t rise

And no one tells you where you went wrong

She just wants them to like her.

Step out, step out of the sun

If you keep getting burned

Step out, step out of the sun

Because you’ve learned, because you’ve learned

It’s easier to remain alone than to feel yourself melting under the weight of their scornful gazes, so she retreats. They don’t notice. Or maybe they do, and maybe that’s worse. 

On the outside, always looking in

Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?

‘Cause I’m tap, tap, tapping on the glass

Waving through a window

I try to speak, but nobody can hear

So I wait around for an answer to appear

While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass

Waving through a window, oh

Can anybody see, is anybody waving?

Don’t ask her a question on the spot, because her throat will concave and the only sound that her lips will curl around is something vaguely resembling, “I don’t know.” She can’t find the words, like that. She needs time to steel herself against their judgement. Sometimes, you will give her time and she still won’t be able to steel herself against their judgement. Sometimes, the things they whisper will still feel like bullets, no matter how much time you give her. Don’t ask her questions on the spot, or maybe even at all. She doesn’t have the answers. 

When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around

Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?

When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around

Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?

When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around

Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?

When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around

Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?

Did I even make a sound?

Did I even make a sound?

It’s like I never made a sound

Will I ever make a sound?

She has disappeared again, but nobody wants to help, this time. She is the first fallen leaf of Autumn – worth a passing glance but not much else besides. You might even mistake the broken in her eyes for orange, and pick her up, before allowing the wind to carry her away when you realise just how damaged she is. Why spend time fixing something so past helping, so irreparable?  

On the outside, always looking in

Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?

‘Cause I’m tap, tap, tapping on the glass

Waving through a window

I try to speak, but nobody can hear

So I wait around for an answer to appear

While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass

Waving through a window, oh

Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

Will they ever start needing her again? Will her thoughts ever slow down? Will the whispers, the nudges, the rolling eyes, will they ever cease altogether? Will anyone notice that her happy has vacated her body? Will they care?

Is anybody waving?

Waving, waving…

Until next time,

Gracie

Insanity

Water: azure; crystalline. Isn’t it pretty? Isn’t it lovely? Couldn’t you just drown, right now?

You are swimming, with the sun on your back and your hair falling about your face in sea-salt clumps. Grinning, you push yourself easily through the water, revelling in its cool caress undulating against your skin. You call it ‘Darling’, call it ‘Safe Space’.

It doesn’t stay like this for long. 

The waves stop being gentle and start being reckless; they are crashing about your shoulders, snapping like rabid dogs at your neck. You can’t tame the beast, although you try. You try, you try, you try, but it always comes back to bite you.

Your arms are flailing now, beating the waves, and the wind, and yourself, trying, trying, trying to escape this, to get away. Fruitless.

You are submerged now. You open your mouth to scream. Seawater fills up the empty jugs of your lungs like raspberry lemonade in summer, and you are choking, thrashing, kicking. Your eyes are wide, panic-stricken. Your lips are still parted, the waves are still rolling like punches. You are still rolling like punches, over and over again in the tumult. There is a weight pressing on your temples, a bodybuilder crushing your diaphanous little skull with his blistered hands. You allow your eyes to flutter shut.

The breath is being sucked out of you by an oceanic vacuum, and you can do nothing to stop it. You relax your tired limbs. You fashion yourself rag doll as opposed to human, you let the waves take you.

Couldn’t you just drown, right now?

Until next time,

Gracie 

An Ode To Autumn

Dear Autumn, 

I think you’re almost here; the weather is changing, there are raindrops in the air, floating about us, watzing slowly inside the spirals of our ears. I want to dance with them, but my flailing limbs could never dream of making a partner for their melancholy bodies, so I simply revel in their craft, watching as their feet treck patterns into the ravines of my skin.

Do you sway with them, the raindrops? You seem like the kind of person who would sway – perhaps because you carry the winds in your arms, rid the branches of their leaves and twirl with them as they fall. I can just imagine you, red hair falling about your face, green eyes sparkling and freckles almost covering your porcelain skin, twisting and undulating to the rhythms in your head. Your lips would be partly open, a lazy smile strewn across them, and your arms would be raised in introspective glee. You would be wearing an emerald shift dress, a little darker than the shade of your irises, and it would skim the tops of your knees as you spun, tapping your feet to the beat of your innermost compositions. 

Can you jive past my birthday this year? I don’t think I want to face it – you know why. I’ll dance with you, if you like; I won’t leave you lonely, I promise. We’ll foxtrot past the bad times, and drink hot chai on cold rooftops, not letting the moonlight trick us into nostalgia. On the days when scarves are prematurely needed, we will wrap ourselves up and take stolls in the meadows behind my house, talking about bonfires and toasted marshmallows. The imagined smoke would scent our hair, and we would laugh until winter came to take you away.

I’ve always loved you, Autumn: you are my favourite season; my lullaby. Keep singing for a few months, keep playing the soundtrack to your own choreography. Stay for longer than last year, Autumn, and tell me in a letter of amber leaves why it is that you left in the first place.

Until next time,

Gracie

Living Here, Living Now

I don’t know about you, but I have a terrible habit of either ensconcing myself either entirely in the past or in the future; I’m constantly revelling in bittersweet nostalgia or, failing that, placing a ridiculous amount of hope upon forthcoming events. 

Today was my first day at sixth form, and I realised that – as I thought, ‘I already can’t wait until A-levels are over.’ – I really, really need to start spending more time in the present. The thing is, throughout all of Year Eleven I couldn’t wait to start sixth form, as it signified a fresh start and another chance to improve myself both viscerally and academically. Now, just before I properly embark on the next step of my educational journey, I find myself already wishing for it to be over. I mustn’t do that anymore, I really mustn’t. 

Although I’m already a little stressed due to the impending – and inevitable – onslaught of work, I’m determined that I’ll remain as positive as possible this year, enjoying my homework and revision and continuing to remain passionate about the three subjects I’ve chosen (Spanish, Psychology and English Literature). Admittedly, I’m prone to spells of unmotivated distress or intense sadness and anxiety, but I think that – if I really try – I may be able to overcome my introspective struggles, and thrive in the intense working environment that will doubtless surround me for the next two years. 

I’m feeling hopeful, albeit exhausted, and I truly wish to go into this next year with a better mindset than I’ve had in the past – for now, I’m incredibly tired, and so won’t put too much pressure on myself, but, when proper lessons start on Thursday, I’ll make sure that I go into school with a light step and a smile on my face. If I start the year well, it can’t end any differently, surely? 

What about you, do you have the same tendency to live anywhere but in the moment as I do? If you’re in education, how’re you feeling about this upcoming academic year? How do you plan to stay motivated and optimistic?

Until next time,

Gracie  

Philology and the Evolution of the Crop Top

I can’t be the only one who realises that both words and t-shirts are becoming shorter, so as to save time or to separate those who do sit-ups from those who don’t respectively. Both our ever-changing language and fashion sense seem to only have this in common (at present, anyway), and once you notice it, you can’t stop.

Before I really talk about anything else, I just want to say that – whatever age, dress size or gender you are – if you want to wear a crop top, you should do, because you’ll look amazing! Don’t let societal ideas of appropriate clothing for certain sets of people deter you from wearing whatever the hell you want to; you have a right to express yourself as you wish, to partake in whatever trend appeals to you and to damn well show everyone that you can look brilliant no matter what. The same goes for any items of accessory, clothing or make up that you think you will look good in. Why shouldn’t you wear a bikini as a plus-sized woman? Why isn’t it acceptable for boys to wear make up? Why shouldn’t non-gender binary people wear more (stereotypically) masculine things one day, and more (stereotypically) effeminate things the next? Apologies for the rant (and if I’ve offended anybody with it), now onto the main point of the post… 

The other day, I received a message which read, ‘lmao ik, wby r u off?’ Translation: ‘laughing my arse off I know, what about you are you going?’ It makes no sense either way, but – nevertheless – it showcases the fact that we shorten everything nowadays, and that the way we communicate is wholly different to what it was previously. Not only this, but even credible articles such as this one are debating whether or not ‘text speak’ is a good or a bad thing. It’s so prevalent in our society that Ted Talks (this one is my favourite on the topic), television debates and – as I’ve just mentioned – pieces in newspapers are all covering it, attempting to discern its positives from its negatives or vice versa, so as to either go on abbreviating everything or to start typing ‘properly’. 

It’s much the same with crop tops; some people hate them, others love them, and most of us have – at some point – worn one, just as we’ve written ‘OMG’ as opposed to ‘oh my God’ in a text. You’ll be walking down the street in December, and someone will be wearing ‘New Look’s latest almost-shirt with their jeans and jacket. Some will scoff, others will admire, but all will wish they looked that fabulous, and could be that confident – trust me. 

In conclusion (if this mess of a post can even have a conclusion), both t-shirts and texts are getting smaller, shorter, easier to handle, and not everybody likes it. Me? I say you do you, but please make sure that I can understand your messages, because – whenever I don’t – I feel like a ridiculous old lady, and I’ll have many an idle day to feel that way in the future, so I don’t want it to begin now, when I’m only sixteen! What about you – what do you think? Do you use ‘text speak’ or not? I don’t, and nor do I wear crop tops, but – equally – I don’t have a problem with anyone else doing so, on either count. 

Until next time,

Gracie 

Abstract Exhaustion 

Bones: heavy. Heart: still. Sheets: tangled around a body. Skin: burning, lighting up the room. Feet: kicking out, beating down, thrashing. Hands: reaching for something, for someone, for anything, for everything. Whatever it is they’re searching for isn’t there. It hasn’t been for a while. 

The air is cloying, the throat, drying. A cough shudders through the frame; it hacks, rattling as if no blood runs through its veins, no muscle sits beneath its skin – it’s almost as if only calcium and regret are left behind to choke atop the pillow. It collapses back in on itself. 

In the morning, its eyes will be puffy, sitting sallowly in purple sacks and blinking at nothing. Yet, for now, at least, it only has the night. The night, the feverish skin, the dangerous space between enervation and panic, emptiness and overcrowding. 

It all becomes unfocused after a while – detached, like nothing is real. The frame tosses and turns, trying to forget the reasons why it feels like it’s drowning, trying to forget the saltwater in its lungs and the sand in its throat.  This endeavour is fruitless; every manic twitch, every desperate jerk is reminiscent of seasickness, and so it climbs out of the boat. 

It climbs out of the boat and it walks around the room, pacing – one, two, three, one, two, three… It wants to scream. To scream and yell and tug on its hair until none of it is left, but it’s 2am and this isn’t real illness so it stays mute. It bites its lip. It scratches its cheek. It turns the radio on quietly so at least there is some noise; any noise is better than its laboured breathing and clanking footfalls. Any noise is better than no noise because when there is no noise it starts to think and when it starts to think that’s when things get bad that’s when-

Bones: heavy. Heart: still. Sheets: tangled around a body. Skin: burning, lighting up the room. Feet: kicking out, beating down, thrashing. Hands: reaching for something, for someone, for anything, for everything. Whatever it is they’re searching for isn’t there. It hasn’t been for a while. 

Until next time,

Gracie 

On Blindness and the Body

I lost my sight as a young teenager and – while my friends were just beginning to experiment with style and find their own personal aesthetics – I was wholly disengaged, not caring about the way I looked or how others perceived me. Sometimes, this could be a good thing; I wasn’t concerned about my weight, or how bad my skin had gotten during the months I had neglected it, meaning that I wasn’t particularly insecure about anything visceral. It did have negative impacts, however; I stopped being able to relate to my peers when they talked about make up, hair and clothing, and – as a result – felt incredibly awkward in social situations. Not only this, but I wasn’t experiencing the feeling of getting ready, of looking nice, of being confident in the way I presented myself to the world. In short, I was isolated.

One day – forgive me for not being entirely clear on the specifics – I decided that I wanted to learn how to apply make up. Before my vision loss, I’d only ever played with foundation, powder and mascara – none of which were particularly successful endeavours, might I add – and so I resolved to take things slowly, promising not to become frustrated with myself if I made mistakes with blending or the placement of certain products. At first, I was too apprehensive to take to my textured, spot-prone skin with any product whatsoever, and that’s when I found the section of YouTube dedicated to make up tutorials, reviews and hauls. I spent hours watching Zoella, Tati and Micheal Finch, gradually warming to the idea of trying out some of their looks on myself. I started by getting to know my own face once more: my fingers traced my features nimbly; I discovered exactly what the beauty gurus meant when they talked about the ‘cupid’s bow’ and the ‘apples of the cheeks’. I asked friends if I was correct with regards to my assumptions about the location of the aforementioned features on my face (which I often wasn’t), and grew more confident in my potential abilities day by day.

Eventually, I picked up a dense, flat-topped brush and began to blend out the spots of liquid foundation sitting atop my cheeks, forehead, nose and chin. I used light circular motions, trying earnestly to achieve an even, smooth finish, and to reach every inch of my face so as not to look strange or caked in product. Other than underneath my eyes and at the corners of my mouth, I had done what I had set out to – I applied liquid foundation, and I had done it well

From this, I went on to experiment with concealer, powder and blush, all of which – excluding the latter – presented no real problems. Once I was used to blush, I went on to try bronzer, which ended up being surprisingly simple, as the blending actions required are akin to that of other powder products. Soon, I was able to apply all base products by myself, and put a little pencil through my eyebrows (although I still find that a bit difficult). Mascara and eyeshadow (I tried eyeliner but couldn’t and can’t get it to work for me at all) presented a whole host of new issues. I can recall one time in particular, when we were all getting ready for a family gathering, and I walked out of my bedroom, having attempted a smokey eye. Put it this way – I looked like a racoon, with black and grey smeared all across my face. My first reaction to this news was fury, and then self-pity and sadness. Once I had recovered myself, however, my sister and mother helped me to do something simpler, and I ended up receiving a lot of compliments on my appearance. 

Although I still make mistakes, and won’t go anywhere if a friend or family member hasn’t checked my make up, I am proud to say that I consider my make up skills to be greatly improved; I even gave a talk and tutorial on the very topic to a group of visually impaired teenagers the other week! It has taken me a long time to get here, but it just shows that if you really want to be able to independently use make up, and are willing to dedicate a good few hours to the cause, you can and will succeed.

As I had been able to curl and straighten my hair way before I lost my sight, it wasn’t too difficult for me to do so without vision; don’t get me wrong, I burn myself so much (that can be attributed to my natural clumsiness as opposed to my blindness, however), and I occasionally miss out little sections of my hair when styling it, although, as you’d expect, this has improved with practise. One problem quite a lot of blind and visually impaired people encounter when taking to their locks with a hot tool is fear – something that I can’t really talk about, because it never affected me. I’ve always had a high pain tolerance, and so a burn to my hand or wrist doesn’t bother me as much as it probably should. My advice to you if you are scared, though, is to just go for it: don’t overthink; don’t prepare yourself; just do it, be impulsive – you’ll be fine, trust me. The only other hair-related things I can do are a ponytail and a tight bun – I can only sort-of plait on other people, and even then it’s messy and confusing. So, it’s no stylish, tousled updo for me, or for you, if you were wanting some advice on putting your hair up. Sorry about that – I’ll try again after I’ve learnt how to paint my nails (as of right now, I’m terrible, so we could be waiting a while)…

The final thing for me to tackle was fashion, which – to be honest – I’m still not altogether confident with. My solution was and is to always take a friend or family member shopping with me, and to have them help me pick out clothes, shoes and accessories. If something doesn’t feel nice either on my body or to the touch, I won’t buy it, no matter how good it may look, because – not only do I still want a say in what I wear – I need to feel content with my outfit when stepping out of the house on a morning, and I won’t get that self-assurance if I don’t like the texture or fit of a particular item. Usually, however, this isn’t a problem, and I like the way a lot of things feel and sound when they are described to me. In short, I’m almost entirely dependent on others when it comes so fashion, constantly checking which top goes with which jeans, and whether my ring is silver or gold. Yet, I’m still able to actively participate in the choosing of my clothes and such to a certain extent, and I think that that in itself is empowering, and that more families should encourage their visually impaired child or children to express their opinions on the way they look in different items of clothing – even if they can’t see themselves.  

The last appearance-based thing I wanted to mention is in the very title of this post: body-confidence, or rather, the lack thereof. I’d be interested to hear whether my experiences are in-keeping or incongruous with those of other blind and visually impaired people. You see, and I don’t want pity here, I am simply relaying my own thoughts and feelings, I find it extremely difficult to be wholly confident and satisfied with the way I look. At my prom, for example, I had gotten my make up and hair professionally done, and my dress fit me perfectly. Initially I felt fantastic, and revelled in the compliments my family were giving me. As we left my house, however, I began to feel the doubt and insecurity building up within me. What if I looked fat? What if my hair was messy and my make up smudged? What if everyone laughed at me? No one did laugh at me, but – for the entirety of the night – I held my clutch bag over my stomach and tried desperately not to ruin any part of my ensemble. Although I had fun, my crippling anxiety relating both to the way I looked and the busy environment around me (in which I was left alone for an uncomfortably long time), definitely made the whole affair less amazing. Not only that, but I still feel embarrassingly insecure about the way I looked; the thought of my arms looking chubby or my lipstick too dark on such a special occasion makes me cringe so much that I can hardly think about it.

In truth, my prom was just one of many occasions where I struggled to understand and accept that I looked okay; I don’t want sympathy as a result of me saying this, I’m just trying to articulate the way I feel without seeming self-pitying or like I’m looking for attention. I’m not sure how well I’m doing with that… Anyway, my point is that, when you can’t see how others look, you have no means of comparing yourself, so – for me at least – you assume the worst. It sounds ridiculous and dramatic, but I don’t think I’ll ever be entirely happy with the way I look. Then again, I’d probably be exactly the same if I was sighted, just preoccupied with different aspects of my appearance, and more able to accept compliments of any kind.

I hope I haven’t ended the post on too much of an awkwardly personal, negative note, but I didn’t want to just stick to the positives – I wanted to encompass everything I feel about the way I look in one post, and I don’t think I’ve done a very good job of it! Nevertheless, I’m exhausted and can’t think of a more cohesive, coherent way to express myself, so this will have to do. I really hope that you enjoyed reading this, despite it being inarticulate and jumbled, and I hope that you’ll consider either commenting or emailing me your experiences with body image (whether your visually impaired or not) so that we can compare the similarities and discrepancies between our perceptions, perspectives and personalities.

Until next time,

Gracie  

Spanish: My Struggle

I’ve always adored languages; from a very young age I loved listening to people speaking words, sentences and phrases that I didn’t understand. It never mattered that I wasn’t fluent in German, French or Italian, all that I cared about was hearing the accent, the inflection, the tempo and the idiosyncrasies that each voice carried. 

As I got older, however, I began to feel an almost overpowering desire within me to learn a new language, to comprehend the confusing syllables uttered by others from around the world. That opportunity arose when I started secondary school – we could choose whether we wanted to study German, French or Spanish, and I picked the latter, as it’s always had a unique, beautiful quality to it in my opinion. 
I worked hard in all of my Spanish lessons, pouring over the homework to ensure that I hadn’t made any mistakes, and listening to everything that my teacher said keenly. When I was thirteen, the class all took an FCSE, so that – if they didn’t choose it for GCSE – they would still have gotten a qualification out of the two years they had spent studying a language. I received a Distinction, and was absolutely over the moon, eagerly writing it down as my first option to take at GCSE.

As my sight was deteriorating throughout the first part of the course, and had totally gone a few months in, myself and my school found it incredibly difficult at times; I couldn’t read or write, and I hadn’t even learnt English Braille back then, let alone Spanish! Nevertheless, we managed. Despite all the feelings of dejection, fruitlessness and frustration, I came out with a high A* grade, which almost negated my bad experiences and made me want to study it at A-Level. 

Yet, because I did my Spanish exam at the end of Year Ten instead of Year Eleven, I’ve forgotten so much of what I learnt. Not only this, but I had to learn the Spanish Braille code, which – although it isn’t that bad – can be a little… Ire-inducing, to say the least. I’m also inordinately bad at understanding the Spanish speech software on my computer, and just feel like crying every time I can’t comprehend it, as it transports me back to the days of GCSE, where my independence was non-existent. 
I needed to write this post because it makes me feel proactive – like I’m searching for answers instead of just avoiding learning the set amount of words per-day I was meant to and hiding the film we’ll be studying and its guide book (so to speak) away in some dusty corner. I should’ve expanded my vocabulary a lot by now, and at least have a vague idea of the plot of the film, but I don’t. Every time I think about this wonderful, thrilling language, I don’t feel glee bubbling inside of me, but dread, and that is why I’m writing this; I need your help and advice to steer me in the right direction. 

Are any of you out there studying a language? Have you experienced these feelings before? If so, how do you combat them? 

Until next time,

Gracie

Call It Lovely

On Tuesday, I made my second independent journey on the train to go and stay with a friend – it wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that I returned, and the experience has filled me with so much hilarity, glee and fulfilment that I just had to write about it on here. 

The friend with whom I was invited to stay is (and will be forever, I think) one of my best friends in the entire world, and those five days truly made me realise exactly how much she means to me. We walked through parks, laughed until our very bones ached and stayed awake ridiculously late. It was exhausting and confusing and brilliant, and I adored it, every second. 

There was one night in particular, I believe it was Thursday evening, when – after eating – we decided to call one of our friends. The three of us ended up staying awake until 3am chatting about a myriad of subjects, from mental health to politics to garbled nonsense that wasn’t even words (they were both making horrific sounds because I cringe incredibly easily). I felt so connected to the both of them, and really trusted that what they were saying to me was genuine and important – I know that both of them felt that way, too. 

Not only was it ansolutely fantastic to spend so much time with a long-distance friend, however, it was truly excellent to properly meet her family. I met her father, albeit briefly, last year, but hadn’t been to her house, met her stepmother or spoken properly to her dad before Tuesday. I also met her sister for the first time, as she brought me from the train station to their house, and she was one of the most charismatic, vivacious and intelligent people I have ever met – I hope she knows that. As I am unbelievably sheltered, uncultured and just plain stupid, and because they served me ridiculously fancy food, I looked forward to every meal, as I tried something new each day. Also, at meal times, we had such interesting, comedic and downright proposterous conversations; her father is beyond funny, and has some… strange books, shall we say. For once, I felt like I belonged somewhere. Whether I was choking on spicy Thai green curry, teasing her dad or eating enough egg fried rice to feed a small army, I was happy. Truly, truly happy for the first time in a while. 

Naturally, my friend and I were high off of excitement – which had been induced by our very propinquity from the second I arrived – and so were irritatingly hyperactive for the entirety of my stay. We clutched each other and squealed an embarrassing amount, and I think we drank all of the hot chocolate in the house, too… Anyway, my point is that we were having the time of our lives, no matter what we were doing. I hope I never forget a second of my trip, and that my friend doesn’t either.

Until next time,

Gracie