I learnt that being myself was okay. It was enough. I could be my own person and still be liked, adored and even loved.
I could be whoever I wanted to be. You were bold enough to be true to yourself, and so could I. We could hold hands walking down the street, sit outside the pub, and feel completely at ease. It felt like we could be better than everybody else; like we were the ones that belonged and everyone else was the alien. We fitted in to that space – all the other people were just crowding us, trying to join in. They envied you for embracing yourself and remaining true to your individual character.
I’ll always admire you for that. For your overwhelming confidence and comfort in being who and what you are. You dressed that way because that was how you saw yourself, not how you thought other people should see you. You spoke honestly and delivered your opinions with strength and charisma. It was inspiring.
Your insecurities peeped through only a few times. There was something in your eyes that I could see, like you knew we were coming to an end. You read my behaviour well – something that actually made me feel safe with you. I didn’t realize I was that easy to read, though perhaps you had an advantage, what with your chosen profession.
I don’t think I ever saw you do anything that you didn’t want to do. You didn’t even have a mobile phone because you didn’t want people to be able to contact you all the time – something that a lot of other people depend upon and crave. Heck, before I met you you had never even set foot in a Costa because you never saw the appeal of it. Instead you would visit pubs, drink a pint, smoke your pipe and talk to strangers. Something I would never have the balls to do.
You also taught me to never take a piss in an alley – you failed so spectacularly one night when instead of taking said piss, you fell off of a dumpster, as you didn’t realise that the alley you had chosen was not quite flat.
The most important thing you ever taught me was to fight my corner. You weren’t going to let me let myself down by running away from something, or letting somebody get away with something. Your encouragement helped me through one of the worst times of my life. Though it was fucking scary, your support reminded me that I was doing the right thing, that I was in fact in the right, and that I shouldn’t take that kinda shit from anyone. That kind of lesson is priceless, so thank you forever.
Apologies that I didn’t teach you much – you are a genius (and you know it). Once you did describe how I had shown you the more fun side of things, what with my annoyingly excitable nature and all, which is something I can forever be proud of teaching. I also showed you what a raw bell pepper tastes like (I mean, really) and how to make fajitas (I mean, really), two other incredibly key parts to adult life.
You probably won’t read this – and thank goodness for that because I know you’ll have a go at me for mentioning the bell pepper thing – but I wanted to say thank you anyway. Thanks for being my friend. Thanks for being in my life. Thanks for being yourself.
This post was originally published on 4th April 2016.