Last week I mentioned the Fringe Festival, my absolute favourite time of the whole year, where hundreds of performers come from all over the world to brighten the city, filling it with imagination, culture, laughter and magic. With the Fringe naturally comes good times with friends, one of whom I only get to see as often as the festival itself. I first met him back in 2004. I’d moved in with my then-boyfriend, an international street performer who made his living travelling the world, entertaining the masses. Some friends of his from LA were coming up to do a show, and he asked if it was okay if they stayed with us. It was my introduction to a now lifelong love of performing arts – and my first introduction to Shelby.
He was one of those people who could walk into a room and without saying anything, you already knew you were going to get along amazingly. I’ve only met a handful of people in my life who’ve radiated positive energy at such a high level that friendship was near instantaneous, and he’s definitely one of them. “I live in LA but travel much of the year doing comedy shows. I’m a night person who’s into old Westerns, Vespas, Ukulele, Rooibos tea, road-trips, and will do most anything for a vegan crepe,” says his Facebook profile. We meet once a year when he’ll arrive in Winnipeg, woolly chaps, stetson, and ukelele in hand, where we’ll spend the next two weeks sharing mixtapes of beautiful music and going out to eighties dance parties. Reminiscing about our favourite shows of festivals gone by – the ones who stole our hearts and imaginations and ran away with them forever. Exploring hidden bookstores, reading ghost stories of two hundred years ago, making cupcakes, alternating between watching heartbreaking love stories and marathons of Doctor Who. He’s seen me grow from a girl of nineteen-year-old naivety and has remained a loyal, wonderful friend throughout. I went to stay with him in LA a couple of years ago, spending three days riding around on bicycles in the sunshine, exploring parks, forests, and tourist attractions, dressing up to the nines, and sleeping on his sailboat. This year, he stayed with us, and it’s been the highlight of my year. Especially after I came home to find he’d spent the day doing things like this in my living room – you will LOVE this: 🙂
Saying goodbye after the Fringe every year ALWAYS breaks my heart, and I find myself immediately counting down the days until we can do it all over again. But that heart also radiates an enormous appreciation for having such a brilliant friend, who, despite living thousands of miles away, will be one for life.
In the too-near future, while I’m away in England next week, I’m also going to have to say goodbye to another good friend. I’ve been fortunate not to have had to have been separated from too many people in my life; other than once, last year, one left for B.C. to pursue his Masters, which was hard, but other than that, I think the only other time I had to face separation was when I left England ten years ago. But in the next week and a bit, I’m going to have to say goodbye to someone else.
Ted has, shockingly, only been in my life for the last 3 months, 11 hours, and 8 minutes (ever go in your Facebook inbox and find the very first message exchanged with someone? Try it, it’s fun!), but it seems like we should’ve been friends forever. We met online through Facebook Friend Suggestions, and it turned out we had quite a few people in common. After about a month of exchanging emails, we met up in person (yes, out in public, and yes, my back was covered just in case) and talked for HOURS. I was worried about what Sweet might think, me going out to meet a bloke off the Internet, but he all for it, fully supportive of my huge (and rather sad) desire to make friends. So I went. And it was brilliant. Conversation was effortless, intelligent, and fun. We were reading the same book, we both had random philosophical ponderings, and we both wanted to set goals for ourselves. Again, friendship was almost instantaneous, and over the last few weeks we’ve shared hours of coffee and wanderings around the city, sharing hopes and dreams, plans, goals, and life stories. He wanted to keep a journal, so I got one for his trip; I wanted to learn to sing in front of people, he invited me to karaoke and told me I’d be great. (Sidenote: THIS WEDNESDAY. HOLD ME.) True friends do that – they’re there to listen to all the good things and bad things about you and still like you, encourage you, and want to stick around anyway. Kind of like the big brother I always wanted. 🙂
We went to the Fringe last week, when he broke the news: he’s being transferred to Ontario. Permanently. Being face-to-face I had to stifle tears!! I was thrilled about the new opportunity, but so sad it had to come so soon – and of course while I’m out of the country. I came home and whined about it to Sweet so much that I completely forgot a writing deadline! That night I got a text message – “don’t worry. Everything has a reason for happening. I’m still here for now, me leaving is in the future.” Did I not mention? That book we were both reading was A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle (review to come!), author of The Power of Now, next up on my list. This friend has introduced me to the whole idea of living in the present without worrying so much about the future – something I’m forever going to try to live by. It’s funny how some people’s chapters in our lives can be so brief, but the difference they’ve made can last so much longer.
But for the next couple of weeks, I’m not going to think about saying goodbye. Because today, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with the people that mean the most. I’ve been out of England for ten years, and someone I met when I was about twelve remains one of my closest friends to this day. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be spending a couple of days with someone who lived across the street when I was 9, 10 years old, congratulating her on her upcoming wedding. Time and distance may be intimidating, but ultimately prove no match for those people that are firmly planted in your life, and in your heart. Except now I really have to get on Skype more than once every three months. And stop being so afraid of the telephone. Although there’s something quite lovely about a handwritten letter every now and again. 🙂
Have you ever had to say goodbye to a friend? Do they know how much impact they’ve had on your life? It’s important I think, every now and again, to tell people how much they mean. Farewell Shelby and Ted, but only for now. 🙂