I couldn’t move on Sunday. I laid in bed being nursed by Mama with guts somersaulting, legs tearing from the hip to the knee to the toes and my skin more tender than a wing. I rolled about like a product of Greggs and staggered to the loo like I was in a ward. I guzzled pain killers and water like a refugee at a 90s rave. I had all the fantasies of the hypochondriac I am, just certain my liver was failing, my womb was imploding and my urinary tract was the Tube at rush hour.
Then I woke up with nothing but some gunk in my eye.
On Saturday night I went to a metal gig. Solatia were playing Off The Cuff south of the river and I trundled over there with my nearest and dearest, ready for a night of trying to finally figure out how you dance to metal when you’re too insecure to jump. Marigold Spitfire were on before Solatia, and I took the plunge and joined the mosh pit for their final song. My two mates were knocking about in there and I thought, if they can do it, why can’t I? Then the drums rolled and before I got a good spin in, the act was over. I knew, however, that I had to put my foot down (and up and left and right and in and out) for the next portion.
No one will laugh at you. No one will point at you and whisper to their friends if you do something you’re scared to do. No one will walk away from that instance and deep your confidence for years to come. They are more likely to admire you, watch you in awe, join in because they saw you did, and appreciate that life ain’t as serious as we all fucking think it is.
One of the friends who was in the mosh pit kept their glasses on the whole time. They went to Paris recently on their own for the weekend. They did a Ted Talk at sixteen. They speak to Uber drivers, just because they can.
I was watching them in the mosh pit, not laughing, not embarrassed for them, not whispering about them. But inspired by their pure bollocks and confidence.
Then I pushed them as hard as I bloody could once I grew my own pair and joined in.
After Solatia finished playing, me and my two mates who jumped about and pushed each other up and down, hugged and smiled and laughed. It was cathartic, but it was also bonding. We let go in front of each other: in that moment, we didn’t care about body weight, skin state or past mistakes. I don’t know if I really cared about anything, to be honest. I was just living there and then and loving it.
So my Sunday battle wounds were well deserved, and well appreciated once they disappeared come Monday. They didn’t leave scars; but my memories of the show will stick around for a long time. Finding people who you don’t feel the need to cover up in front of, whether that be intellectually, emotionally or physically, is unbelievably powerful.
Another friend of mine, I meet once a week for a different type of catharsis. We get a coffee and gossip. I’m a big believer that bitching is not the bane of life, but the antidote to repression. You need to let shit out. You need to release pent up frustrations, grievances and opinions to truly extract the negativity from them. And you need to laugh. Nuff time a mate will swing in with a point of view that stops your chaos in its tracks and reverses your passion on a subject. Suddenly you’re giggling about clownish pedantics rather than getting clusterfucked by your own brain over stuff that concerns you but really shouldn’t. When we meet for these caffeine filled conversations, we roly-poly over a million different topics and leave with emptied brains and bursting hearts.
The Sunday before the musical beat-up, I went clothes shopping (for the musical beat-up) with another friend, which ended in a sleepover. We trundled Camden looking for any black, buckled clobber we could source and ended up in the Stables for over an hour. Back at mine, we watched Drag Race (naturally), ate takeaway and discussed our troubles with any tears turning to titter before they could run. To be able to open yourself up and really explore insecurities that plague you with those you trust is immeasurable. It’s not all about the compliments that friends give when you say how you feel about yourself, although they don’t go amiss! It is about not being judged or feeling like an idiot when you express them in the first place. We both hugged and kissed goodbye on Westminster’s platform the next day, and sent soppy texts a few hours later saying how much better we felt for just having seen each other. It was like a reset. It was a boost to get through the week. It was love.
I didn’t have any friends growing up. Of course, primary school ages, I did. But once I hit secondary school, I had a vast rotation of a few that stuck around for a bit, then essentially nuffing. I went into homeschooling when I was around thirteen and you can imagine how social that was! But it meant I formed true and deep bonds with two of my best friends in the world – my mum and dad. I speak to them like I do my mates. I tell them the same shit I do my mates. We know each other as humans, not as what society tells us parent and child relationships have to be. I am so lucky to have them – not everybody has the luxury of this love. I don’t have nans, grandads, aunts or uncles, or siblings or cousins around. I just have my mum and dad. My coffee date mate repeated a gay notion to me the other day as we discussed familial topics, the concept that you have your Chosen Family.
That I do.
It took me a long time to realise I was worthy of good people. And through picking a few shite ones, I finally found a community, a tribe, that accepts me as I accept them, and I can see us all growing old together.
They are the ones that will laugh about you, to your fucking face… and you will laugh at them in return and then you will laugh together. They are the ones that will whisper about you, paying compliments as they look at you doing your funky thing in adoration. They are the ones that will walk away from you and truly deep your brilliance for years to come. They are the ones that will make you fearless, make you confident, make you comfortable.
You don’t need thousands of these people about. Even if you just have one or two souls that keep you thriving, that is surely enough. I’m lucky to have accumulated quite a gaggle of raggamuffins that I call my family now. I’m grateful for it everyday.
People do come and go. I’ve had friends I’ve given my all to only for them to spit it back in my face and leave me weaker than I was when I found them. Some that have left me in bed for months after the end came, too depressed to function and too insecure to attempt friendship in the aftermath. I’ve had my heartbroken by more friends than I have lovers. When you are the type to consider mates family, it can mean you fall a lot deeper into the bond than they do. When your love is more amphetamine than dope, the comedown can sometimes turn up quicker than the high. Through my intensity, I have also learnt the importance of protecting myself. To be a loving person, it does not mean you have to love everyone and everything blindly, and especially not if they treat you like shit. You are under no obligation to take people’s crap or defend those you love if you think they are in the wrong. And you certainly don’t owe anyone anything big enough to let them disrespect you.
Recently I felt let down by a friend. They had hurt me by not backing me up in a situation they kind of promised to. I felt like a fucking idiot. After talking the situation through with a few other mates, I decided to do something I am still trying to de-alienate for myself – confronting people if they hurt me! It can be tricky to stand up for yourself when you have insecurities and notions that tell you you’re not worthy of defence. When you think people just being mates with you is privilege enough and that you’re always the problem, the instigator, the kink. But if they’re real friends, they will apologise and take on board changes that you vouch for.
I told my friend what happened, what they did, and how it made me feel. Due to my nervousness, I was probably a bit intense. But I had to just get it all out before I could stop myself. After an explanation, and an inhale, they apologised. A little while later the topic arose again, and they said, to paraphrase: “I want you to tell me if I’ve done wrong. You should never be scared to say how you feel. If we are friends, we should feel comfortable enough to voice these things. I am sorry.”
I couldn’t have asked for a better response! It made me feel heard, appreciated and respected. I forgot about the situation after that and just appreciated the outcome. If I hadn’t of brought it up, I probably would have stewed and stewed and stewed until I just avoided and dropped them with no explanation because I made the issue a lot bigger in my own head, with them having no idea wagwan.
I have fucked up a mountain of times. The courtesy I received from my friend is all I can hope for when I inevitably fuck up again (because I am human, and that is what we do). They inspired me that day, in a funny turn of events. We are not our mistakes, wrongdoings or evils: we are our apologies, make-rights and proactions. No one gets through this life with a clean record. And we can never change the past. This is IMPOSSIBLE. There is no point ruining the present over things we have absolutely no power over. But we can identify sour patches and turn them sweet, by changing ourselves right now to fit greater models of kindness, understanding and love. Soppy, yes. Bit cringe, probably. Live Laugh Love? ALWAYS!
If you think someone is a cunt, don’t chat to them. It’s simple. Don’t be their friend if you don’t like them.
If you think someone is being cunty, chat to them. See what the motivation is behind their nastiness, and if it’s something you can manage, do that. If it’s out of your control, let it go.
Establishing boundaries is vital to any relationship. Sometimes friendships can twist and crunch because they have gone too far with no structure arranged. Stop expecting the world from people. Some are capable to give it, the majority aren’t. And that is okay.
All friendships are different, anyway. I could give the world to one friend and only the moon to another, with the third getting a crumb. I am different around different people, because they bring different things out in me. And it’s wonderful. It’s not fake, it’s diverse. And you have a lot more to offer when you explore all of yourself.
Stop expecting the world from yourself, too. You are learning everyday. You are experimenting every time you take a breath. Real friends know and understand this. You are allowed to change and evolve and grow. If you didn’t, you’d be ever so boring, darling.
It’s funny how being pummelled in a pit put my pals back into perspective for me. I was at the gig with about ten friends, plus my Mama, and I just looked around the circle with euphoria. A friend said something ever so sweet when we discussed birthday plans the other day and a party was considered. They said: “I’ve never had one. This is my sixteen year old self’s dream come true”. Having the friends I do now, is my sixteen year old self’s dream come true, too.
It didn’t happen overnight. I was shat on from great heights before I climbed to the peaks I’m at now, and I still have my tumbles down the mountain side. Cherish every good soul in your life. There’s been a lot of loss these past couple years: loss of loved ones… loss of life. Let’s not lose anymore.
Thanks to all my gs, my bros, my homies, my kweens, my bruddas, my friends, my chosen family. You make life worth living, even if you have me convinced I’m dying after we dance.
WIAEA (What I Am Excited About):
Song: The Chain by Fleetwood Mac – I’m just obsessed with this song at the moment. I listen to it in the shower everyday! It reminds me of my best mate who puts on my big knitted scarf and pretends to be Stevie Nicks smoking a spliff. Songs that hold memories are always the best. (Obviously all of Kae Tempest’s new singles are what I am the most excited about but I can’t put them on every newsletter)
Book: Memories of the Great and the Good by Alistair Cooke – I didn’t know many of the figures spoken about in this book, but I enjoyed the tales nonetheless! I really enjoy reading about people and Cooke certainly knew a lot, and knew them well. This was a present from a best friend; my dad. It’s a fascinating read from a man that got a lot closer to the ultra-famous than many did back then.