So the aforementioned emotional and draining week was immediately followed up by my 28th birthday yesterday and the imminent departure to foreign lands of my housemate, best friend and former fellow band member, Crawf (as I know him).
Saturday’s birthday celebration was a successful 12 (and a half) hour jolly in a pub and though a great time was had, it was the friend-leaving that dominated my thoughts as the day got towards its end. Crawf and I have known each other since we were 11, becoming proper friends at 15. We started a band together, suffered through French class and I saw him go through his first serious relationship (which started at Reading Festival 2002, post-GCSE results, whilst I was sleeping in the same tent…).
This was followed by going to the same uni, where we didn’t see each other a huge amount but shared a few friends, and then finally we ended up living together for 5 1/2 years after that, 4 in this same flat I’m in right now. We’ve gone on trips abroad, explored the depths of London, done each other’s washing up and got very much used to each other’s foibles. I’ve come to rely on him quite heavily as a confidant and schemer. Whilst everyone around us seemed to be settling down, getting married, moving away or becoming monstrously career driven, we sort of pottered along together. Not unfocused, or undriven – he taught himself Korean and studied accountancy from scratch, I have started carving out a minor career in scriptwriting – but somewhat partners in low-level-life crime.
Crawf, having diligently focused for a few years whilst working a job that didn’t quite fulfil, decided to travel to shake things up. But then he also announced that he’d work abroad if he possibly could so this was going to be more than month long jape – it was potentially forever. I knew it was coming, so today isn’t a surprise, and there were little stages of readiness – researching destinations, booking the flights, quitting his job. All in preparation for a fundamental change in his life. However, what I hadn’t realised until very recently is quite how much his grand shift was going to alter my own existence. We tend to drift merrily (or not-so-merrily) through our lives, embracing a sort of stasis so much so that when change suddenly sets upon you, it lurches both your routine and your heart. In an instant, the old ways cease, your world is alien and there is absolutely no going back.
The last few hours of his time here have had that searing quality of utter reality that burns through the everyday humdrum. Sod the water bill: This Is Happening. Life Is Going To Be Very Different. Not in the big ways, but in a thousand little cumulative ways that together mean so much more:
I won’t be able to knock on his door whenever to show him an article I think he’ll enjoy.
I won’t be able to throw a line at him to see if he laughs (and thus know it’s funny).
We won’t drop anything to have a session of Super Smash Brothers on the N64 at a moment’s notice.
I won’t be able to make terribly un-PC remarks knowing I’m not being judged.
I won’t be able to sit on his bed and work whilst he’s playing DragonAge for the 20th time.
I won’t be able to tell him of my women woes and have him judge me for my lack of courage and foresight (although I might still be able to swing that one on Skype).
We won’t make impromptu burrito runs.
Along with all that, I won’t be able to so easily share the joys of my future artistic endeavours, which obviously mean a great deal to me. My choice of career is utterly ridiculous and unstable and emotionally demanding. I honestly don’t think I’d have got to where I am at the moment, early though it still is, if it hadn’t been for Crawf’s presence, wisdom and unflagging friendship over the last half a decade. He’s backed every project, come to every performance (that I’ve invited him to), and was my first point of call for any ideas I had.
So right now, knowing all of that is about to change profoundly, I feel desperately sad.
But, watching this all finally end so soon after turning 28, I think that I also finally feel very much like an adult. You’re my best friend, Crawf – thanks for helping me get here.