...with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair."
2 years ago, I took a chance and sent a complete stranger my writing; I was 17, had absolutely no idea where I was going in life but I knew I wanted to write until my fingers were numb and I had a Pulitzer Prize under my belt. I had no idea where to start but I knew the conventional route was not for me. My parents believed in me but at the same time thought that maybe the conventional route was for the best...go to University, get a full time job, write on the side and see it as no more than a hobby. I needed somebody to believe in me, to encourage me to care more about writing than a pay packet at the end of the month, to be courageous.
3 hours after I sent the e-mail containing my writing to that complete stranger, I had a reply back. A lovely, lengthy e-mail that took me 45 minutes to read and completely digest; somebody had paid attention to my silly ramblings and took time out of their day to send me their thoughts. I printed the reply out and kept it in a box full of treasured things. It sat amongst friendship bracelets, postcards, key rings, photographs and notes from my first proper crush that we had swapped in Maths lessons years ago. Even to this day, 2 years on, the end of the reply gives me goosebumps:
"You're COMPLETELY on the right path and never, ever give up your dream. No matter how many times you may be told to. Because after all, you heard it from your Auntie Carrie"
This complete stranger has turned into one of my greatest inspirations. She's a pal as well as one of the best teachers I've ever had and it is without a doubt that Carrie Lloyd has had a huge affect on my brain. I send her e-mails full of questions for her to answer so I can just learn a little bit more, her advice is one of my most treasured possession (I had it stuck to my wall for a year...then I moved and it's now stuck in my journal. Some turn to vodka when they feel a bit down, I turn to Carrie's writing...and then vodka) and her life fascinates me...I could literally sit for hours and listen to her talk.
When I sent that first e-mail to her, I never would have imagined that we'd still be in touch: phone calls for 2 hours about life, love and Carrie berating me for listening to ONE rap song (I can't even justify myself), e-mails at 2am in the morning, text messages discussing work and stories about chocolate éclairs. Regardless of whether we talk every single day or once a month, I know Carrie's got my back. I can phone her in a complete state over the tiniest of things and by the end of the conversation have a plan of action on how to attack the problem, super calm and collected like nothing had even bothered me in the first place. It's amazing how somebody has the ability to change your thought process so easily.
So, when Carrie told me she was moving to California for 9 months, the first thing that came to mind, rather selfishly, was "how the fuck am I going to cope?" - there's an 8 hour time difference meaning there's always going to be a delay on replies, it costs a bomb to text the USA from the UK which means phoning is completely out of the question as well and I'm so incapable of using technology that WhatsApp isn't even an options. Whose phone am I going to be able to call up and leave a 2 minute voicemail of me singing 'Superbass' by Nicki Minaj? What's going to happen when I'm unable to solve a situation alone? Don't get me wrong, I'm surrounded by friends but Carrie's advice is always spot on...I've got used to her sorting my life out and I think it's crazy selfish that she's just leaving for America.
I refuse to factor in that she's leaving her Mum, her dog, her friends and family, and her relatively new love interest/boyfriend/person that sounds so lovely, because that would mean opening my eyes to how important this move really is to Carrie. I much prefer looking at this through selfish eyes and saying she's leaving me, as an individual, so she can go and catch some rays on a sandy beach in California and escape the wrath of my rapping ability and her voicemail.
Despite my rather self centered outlook on this move, I know it's going to be one of the most rewarding experiences for Carrie; she's not actually moving all those miles away to lay on a beach getting a tan, instead she's studying outreach work in California which involves pregnancy advice, drug rehab and writing testimonies on kids with behaviour issues. Although my view on this is completely selfish, Carrie's motives are the complete opposite. It's scary thinking she's going to be a thousands of miles away, changing the minds of other's and not just mine (although I'm sure many hands would go up if ever the question "how many of you have had your mind/heart/life changed by Carrie Lloyd?" was asked).
I've got a lot to thank Carrie for: every single piece of advice she's ever given me, the text messages, the e-mails from that very first one to the many that I'm going to force her into sending me in the future, the writing she's introduced me too, the blog posts, the chocolate éclair story that I'm never going to be able to forget, the music she's made me listen too, the selflessness that's opened my eyes and made me want to be a better person, the amount of love she has to give and the amount of laughter she provides, for eating all the pitta bread and saving my waistline, every single story and every single anecdote that I've been told, for never ever giving up on me even when I've been an absolute idiot, never judging me, for believing in me even when I don't even believe in myself, her attempts at forcing me to show emotion, for changing my outlook on a million and one things and for teaching me to be a lovelier person.
There's so many more things I could write about but this America move is coming around far too quickly...as much as I want her to stay, I fear a lengthy blog post listing every single thing I'm so appreciative of is not the way to make her miss her flight.
So for now, Carrie, I just want to say this: thank you for turning my brain upside down, for everything you've ever done for me and the lessons you've taught me. "Go be a world changer with your words and I'll be the one buying the bubbles". Come back soon please, there's pitta bread and a bottle of red wine waiting at the Avalon with your name on it.