Its amazing the difference a friendly face can make. I guess I should start this post with an anecdote.
Around this time five years ago, maybe minus a couple of months, I was in my first year of university in Leeds, living in residence with my friend, James. If you’d told me then that, in five years time, we’d both be the happiest version of ourselves, living in another country, and sitting opposite one another in a hole in the wall bar on Queen Street West in Toronto, well I wouldn’t have believed you.
Back then I was in a pretty dark place, struggling with a bunch of personal demons, having had my heart metaphorically doused in petrol and set on fire, and I wasn’t the most chipper of people. James was a pretty quiet guy, and although had his own stuff going on, was mostly happy to just tinker about on his guitar or make experimental music in his room. I guess though, that for me, I was so unhappy with my life that the negativity seeped out of me and diluted my aura- I wasn’t a great person to be around. My problems manifested themselves into obsessive-compulsive behaviours- from controlling my food and weight, right down to fixating on cleanliness and organisation.
Obviously, this didn’t go down well in a student apartment, with a bunch of 18 year olds having finally escaped the rules of home life and having their first taste of freedom. I guess it drove a wedge between James and I for a while.
So to think that fast forward a few years, and we’d be here, drinking cider and laughing on a chilly Canadian February night, is incredible.
James moved to Muskoka, about two hours North of Toronto, in the summer of 2016 to work as a music technician at a Christian camp. He works long hours, five days a week, and he works hard. But he enjoys it.
It was a crazy coincidence for us both to be setting up our lives so far from home, but to have found each other once again.
James took a few days out after family weekend to come and see me, and spend some real time in the city, and it was awesome. Showing him around, taking him to see the sights he had on his list, visiting vintage stores, and vegan food stores, and eating the best sushi, and drinking ciders in the coolest bars and breweries. It finally felt like this was my city. Here I was, walking the streets, navigating the TTC, and showing someone everything. Dishing out facts as we walk by an old store or park or museum.
A month on since I arrived in Canada, I guess at times I am starting to feel the niggle of not having my friends around, and the feeling of missing those familiar faces. So, it was perfect timing that an old familiar face showed up in the middle of this brand new life. It was grounding and exciting and such a good feeling to be able to have a conversation with someone in the same situation as me. And with someone who I’ve shared so much history with.
It’s amazing where you find true friends. And it’s amazing where they show up again.
A familiar face.