Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Flying Without Wings

This evening I came home to post.

Depending on your age, I imagine this will mean different things to you. 

Post as a child is the Best. Thing. Ever. Because it normally means that it's either your birthday or Christmas.

Post in your twenties (for those of us who have not fully grown up yet) consists of a mixed bag of phone bills, wedding and christening invitations, and the occasional catalogue from the company that you gave your email address to when you were sixteen and who haven't quite got the hint yet. (The envelope is normally handwritten on that last one and for a few brilliant seconds you think it's a surprise package. It never is.) 

Which is why this evening I was delighted to find an exciting piece of post on the kitchen side. Addressed to me. Handwritten, but clearly not selling anything. It's not my birthday. And even Monica didn't get her Christmas cards out in September. 

What could it be? 

It was an anniversary card. 

A ten year anniversary card. 

From Pumbaa. 

Pumbaa is one of my five best friends and one of the five best people on the entire planet. 

And I was lucky enough to meet her ten years ago this week. 

And she remembered, and she sent me a flipagram video of our years together, and then she sent me a card. To my house. She saw me yesterday. She's seeing me tomorrow. But she made it magical by putting it in the post. 

I imagine that from what I've said so far you will have an idea of just how wonderful my friends are. 

Recently I have been quite stressed, and have been- as Dale puts it- a little bit of a Negative Nancy as a result. During this time they were talking on the radio about those things in life that give you a rush of love for the world and make you feel overwhelming grateful that you were in that place at that time. 

Upon hearing this on the radio, I have looked out for those magical moments in my own world.

I had one at work, when I had to- dead seriously- use the sentence "we do not do drumrolls on other children's heads' and then immediately realised that I have the best job in the world. 

I had one at my Mum's, when Mowgli and I both said at the exact same time "I can't take her seriously with that haircut". About the dog.

I had one at my dad's, when Dale woke me up with pancakes and actual wrapped up presents for no reason at all. 

But the biggest proportion of what I call my Flying Without Wings moments, are down to my best friends. 

(They're called this, in case you hadn't realised, because those moments are exactly what the 90s Westlife song is about. Westlife are actually very wise.) 

I was recently on the verge of tears in Minnie Mouse's living room, absolutely devastated about something that had happened, at a loss as to how to handle it. Minnie and Pumbaa laughed their heads off, and managed to make me literally laugh my despair away. 

Sometimes, Lady Adelaide will very seriously explain to me the order in which she ranks Pixar films and why. 

At least once a week, Jiminy Cricket will message me with something magical that happened to her in London. Last week, when I received her Magical Text, it came with a picture of a baby scan. 

When I was sixteen and I left school to go to a college that it took me a train and an outrageously long bus journey to get to so that I could 'meet new people', one particular family friend continually told me that it was very brave, and that he was super impressed. 

I couldn't understand why. I didn't think it was brave at all, it just felt like the right thing- something I have to justify quite regularly to the logical people around me. 

But it was the right thing.

Because it was there, at that college, aged sixteen, that I met Pumbaa, Minnie Mouse, Lady Adelaide, Jiminy Cricket, and Rex. 

And I wouldn't be me without them. 

I remember when I was about ten reading in a magazine that Ant and Dec had been best friends since they were fourteen. I thought fourteen was a ridiculous age to meet your best friend. Surely you've made all your friends by the time you're fourteen?! That was very late. 

Now, of course, I know that meeting your best friends for life when you're sixteen is outrageously young. And I just cannot believe my luck that I met them all in the same building. 

I have written a post before on how we all met so I won't bore you with that again. Instead, enjoy the top ten moments I have shared with the best people in the entire world over the past ten years...

1) 2005: The Year We Met. I thought Pumbaa was a Mature Student. Minnie Mouse told me I looked a fool. Everybody knew Lady Adelaide and I couldn't believe she would ever be my friend. I forgot Jiminy Cricket's name and only remembered when we simultaneously put our hands up and called 'that's me' when our Psychology teacher called out 'Rebecca?' Rex was just about the coolest person I had ever met because he, unlike everybody else I had ever spoken to, knew a song by Goo Goo Dolls that wasn't Iris, and had heard of John Mayer outside of celebrity gossip pages. 

2) 2006: Getting drunk in aid of the World Cup. Because that's what you do when you're 17. I had bright blonde hair and bushman eyebrows. I drank a "Pumbaa" measure of Vodka and Coke at her house straight from college. I fell over, in front of her mum, at 5 in the afternoon. Whilst attempting to act sober. Then we went to a pub where we got beer poured over us every time a goal was scored, and I had to get the train home alone smelling like an empty pub post smoking ban. It's genuinely one of my favourite memories. 

3) 2007: The Year of Parties: The year you turn eighteen your social life goes out of control. Even if you're the youngest like I am. I had a party to go to every Friday and Saturday night for a whole year. Which left lunch breaks and free periods to plan my own party down to the last song.  

4) 2008: The Holiday. Pumbaa and I went to Spain for five days and our lives changed forever. We drank too much, ate too much, showed our true colours (I genuinely believe it was Pumbaa who coined the term 'hangry' after five days with me), fell in love with the boys in the room opposite, and then laughed at the memories for the next seven years. 

Just to be clear: this is not the boy we fell in love with. 

5) 2009: The Big Holiday. This time, four of us went. It's a blur of cocktails, laughter, sand, and, unfortunately, singing. One of my favourite pastimes when hanging out with Lady Adelaide is to cringe at singing 'We love you Essex we do' dancing down a street on a Greek Island. We probably feature on some awful secret channel 4 documentary. 

6) 2010: The First Engagement. Jiminy and Rex- four years after had first introduced them (I know, what a hero) were the first of my friends to get engaged. Rex set up a treasure hunt around a hotel room that eventually led to a ring <3 

7) 2011: Radio One. We went onto Feet Up Friday with Greg James and it was an absolute dream. When Greg and I are married I'm sure we'll laugh at the memories. 

8) 2012: 2012 was a hard year. All five of them sent flowers to Ireland, where I was living, to cheer me up. Lady Adelaide got on a plane, brought a suitcase full of chocolate and the DVD Bridesmaids and turned up at the front door. 

9) 2013: The Year of The Mouse: I was away for the entirety of 2013, and still these absolute heroes trooped on with the job of being best pals with a restless wanderer. We had Skype dates, whatsapp groups, shared albums. They received pictures and sound bites and all kinds of nonsense from their overexcited friend. And I received a picture of an engagement ring. 

10) 2014: The Year of the Wedding. Pumbaa found Baloo. Minnie found Mickey. Lady Adelaide found Mufasa, and of course, Rex already had Jiminy. In 2014 every single one of my best friends got married. It was one of the most magical years of my life so far. At the time I thought it might be the most magical year ever.

But then in 2015 Minnie Mouse gave birth to Jack-Jack. Pumbaa bought her first house. Rex and Jiminy announced their pregnancy, and Lady Adelaide threw me the most thoughtful, magical twenty-sixth birthday party. The Flying Without Wings moments have kept coming.

These people have been there through everything. The good, the bad, and the truly hideous, and still want to be friends with me, still make my world magical every day.

What makes you feel like you're flying without wings? 

I imagine it's a person. Or people. 

Tell them. Right now. Text them, call them, hug them, kiss them. Squeeze them until you're concerned for their health. 

And look out for the times you think you might have made someone else feel that way. 

Because you do make other people feel that way. 

We just don't tell each other very often. 

There's a section of that truly devastating episode of 8 Simple Rules where they find the last article that Paul wrote before he died. It says this: 

"I know, that whenever my kids insult me, whether it's a 'you're an idiot', 'what a geek', or even 'I hate you', I know that an 'I love you' isn't far behind. And it's the knowledge that my wife and kids love me that makes it safe for me to wear pyjamas and black socks to the breakfast table.'

Do you know what told me, more than anything else, that Pumbaa must really love me? 

At the end of the card, she wrote 'P.S. Sorry for any spelling mistakes.' 

For someone to know very well that despite the thought, effort and kindness that went into that card, I would be checking it for spelling mistakes, and still want to send it, and still want anything  to do with me, is just as special to me as a having an 'I love you Rebecca' banner flapping on the back of  a plane. 

Except that I don't need the plane. Thanks to these magical characters, I'm flying without wings <3 

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