Monday, 28 January 2013

"Whatever happens, let's go on an adventure."

The press hitch-hikers get is something I've never understood; okay, I get that sometimes they can be a bit dangerous - associated with the murder/rape/attack of innocent drivers, just wanting to help out a stranger who seems a bit lost - but I've always loved the spontaneity of a hitch-hiker and admired their sense of adventure. Obviously I'm not talking about the nasty ones, the ones who hitch-hike for no reason other than to cause harm, I'm talking about the ones who get a bit fed up of their day job and decide it's time for a change, the ones who throw caution to the wind and allow the gear stick of somebody else to take them to a brand new destination. I realise I've romanticised the life of a hitch-hiker somewhat but there's a huge part of me that would love to be as daring (some would say stupid...) as I imagine you'd have to be to stand on the side of the road, come rain or shine, in order to reach some place new.

If you'd have asked me last week what I'd be doing at 2am on Sunday morning, I probably would have said I'd be drunk. It's just a given these days. However, in actual fact, I was sat in the back of a Mini Cooper, driving through Clapham South with two of my favourite people and a drunk Australian guy named Ash. I was sober and the car belonged to my friend - before anyone panics - but we had just picked Ash up from the side of the road and suddenly, our Saturday night/Sunday morning turned into something only really, really strange dreams are made of.

Five hours before picking this random Australian dude up from outside a Texaco garage, we had been partying at the o2, watching the likes of Professor Green and Misha B tear up Indigo for Musicalize; we dressed up, drunk overpriced vodka and sung every single lyric to 'Read All About It' with our only care in the world being that our feet hurt a little bit from the heels we insisted on wearing. When the night ended, we walked back to North Greenwich station debating over who the hottest member of One Direction is (Harry Styles, obviously) and confessing our love for Professor Green. To say I was ready to get home, put a pizza in the oven and crawl into bed would be an understatement, having had a really messy night the night before, but it was at this moment as I was imagining demolishing a huge 'Thin & Crispy' that the craziness struck...

I write for a blog called IAmMusic.TV and it's  run by somebody called Carly Wilford; I've known her for just over a year and I think I've finally got my head around her spontaneity, fearlessness and possible mental illness (I'm just throwing it out here but after reading what I'm about to write, you'll understand why I say this). As I said goodbye to two of my friends at the station, my friend Fran staying with me, I received a call from a certain Ms. Wilford, the only words I really remember being "whatever happens, let's go on an adventure." As we headed back to Carly's to formulate some sort of plan, none of us knowing what the rest of the night held and my stomach saying goodbye to the thousands of calories I had promised it earlier on in the night, I realised I had just signed up to one of Carly's infamous nights out; to explain them would take too long and it's practically impossible to even try to make some sense of the nights spent in her company but they normally take a while to recover from and nobody really mentions them afterwards.

It's important to point out here that Fran, mentioned above, is from Eastbourne and had only met Carly the night before at a LoveDough event. It's also important to point out that Carly's house, or kitchen rather, has been taken over by mice - well, one mouse called Frank - who Carly has taken a shine too. He's not moving out anytime soon.

With the rain battering on the windows, a huge ladder in my tights and one of my false eyelashes falling off, us three girls (Frank was probably involved as well) sat on the sofa drinking tea and telling stories of past relationships, sex, regrets and sharing secrets. Carly admitted to telepathically talking to Frank (see above for mention of mental illness...) and I voiced concern about a rather personal subject that need never be mentioned again. Except in personal messages via Facebook, Twitter and an occasional text; after hearing Carly's confession about conversing with a pest, I'm 100% not worried about anything going on with me.

Make-up wipes came out, the tea turned into flavoured hot chocolate and the conversation became more and more personal as the night went on. Surrounded by somebody I've known for four years who knows me inside out and probably the best 'boss' you could ask for, I realised how lucky I am to know such awesome people. I could openly discuss everything currently taking place in my pants without a care in the world and although it's making me question my own mental health, I didn't even bat an eyelid when telepathically talking to mice came up in conversation.

At 2.00am, we clambered into Carly's Mini Cooper, ready for bed after spending hours gossiping and drinking too much tea, really not expecting anything unusual to happen on the drive back from Clapham South to Streatham.
The rain was pouring but as we started driving, we made out a hitch-hiker on the side of the road; he was trying to flail down a taxi, with no such luck, and it started to look as though the pints he had consumed earlier were taking their toll and he was staggering in and out of the road. "Let's pick him up!" came out of my mouth before I even had a chance to think about the possibilities of being put at harm by such a stupid comment. I looked at Carly, she looked at me and we both looked at Fran as "Okay!" filled the car and within seconds, we had made a (probably considered illegal) turn and were heading back to pick up our adventure seeking friend.

Now before anyone panics, I AM alive to tell the tale and so is everyone involved in the story (I hope...we haven't seen Ash since). God Bless the man who even attempts to take on three girls in a Mini Cooper at 2.30am in the morning. There was no consideration to whether or not this stranger could be dangerous - we were doing our good deed for the day and collecting good karma. Imagine being stood in the rain with no money for a cab and no idea as to where you're standing, let alone where you're even going. Your options are to give up and take shelter in a nearby bus stop or pray that three mentalists in a Mini Cooper are driving past, with a tendency for making rash decisions and just wanting to make the world a better place, one drunk Australian guy at a time.

We had no idea what madness would entail when Ash got into the car but as we sat parked up outside a house in Tooting Bec, talking about oral sex for fingers and moving across the globe in the name of love, I, for one, was pretty glad we picked this stranger up. I get a feeling of immense gratitude at the most random of times and at this very moment, I felt nothing but a surge of love for the people involved in everything to do with this night. I'm lucky I'm surrounded by people who 'get me', even if one of them I'd just met and will probably never see again. I never used to believe that the people around us can shape us into the people we're supposed to be but I totally agree with this now. Ash taught me that sometimes, an adventure is all you need, even if you're suffering from a broken heart. We found out he had moved to London from Melbourne because he had fallen in love with an English girl he had lived with for 14 months. Two months after he moved to London, she broke up with him and he had no option but to move on. He got a job bar-tending and with only six months left on his Visa, really doesn't want to go back to Australia. I found myself offering marriage as a way to let him stay in the country, allowing him to potentially find another love in London and finish the love story he had originally hoped for.

He agreed but we soon became distracted by two foxes flirting with each other and as the conversation jumped from serious to crazy within seconds, nobody really knowing what any of us were doing in the car in the early hours of Sunday morning, we realised it was probably time to head back to reality. After 'squiding' us (we assumed it was an Australian, or just an Ash, form of foreplay - you tickle somebody with your mouth so they squirm like a squid...), Ash left the car, thanking the three mental girls who had probably just saved him from being squished in the middle of Clapham South.

We are never going to see Ash again; numbers weren't exchanged and I couldn't remember where we dropped him off if you paid me, but for those couple of hours on Sunday morning, I realised sitting with Ash has actually taught me a lot;-

1) Never be afraid to chase love around the globe. It could potentially end badly but regardless of the outcome, you'll end up a much stronger person.
2) Foxes flirt like children in a playground.
3) Saturday nights spent drinking cherry hot chocolate and gossiping need to happen more often.
4) You learn a lot from listening to others, even if they are drunk and slurring their words.
5) Hitch-hikers aren't always bad. Sometimes, they're just intoxicated and skint from spending their money on too many Jagerbombs.
6) Communicating with mice via telepathy is possible...
7) Always trust Carly when she promises an adventure.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

"And in that moment, I swear we were infinite."

I'm not very good at writing about people I care about. I think it's because to do this, you have to attach a certain amount of emotion to your writing and that scares me because I think emotion is over-rated. I like to romanticise situations and over-exaggerate characteristics and although the people I care about are as colourful and magical as they come without my editing, it'd be unfair to try to alter their personalities just because I find it difficult to remain 'at one' with my feelings. Previously, I've tried to write like every single word has come straight from my heart, leaking onto the page through a papercut on the tip of my finger caused by a Proust novel, but despite my efforts, I can't help but press the 'backspace' button on my laptop keyboard. I don't know if this is because something about writing like this, this type of writing, sits uncomfortably with me or whether I'm scared of how the people I'm writing about are going to react to my honest, no-holding-back, warts and all technique of writing, when they're so used to seeing me tipsy from too many rum and cokes, using sarcasm as a method of protection, to prevent myself from letting my guard down. I still haven't worked out which...

After watching 'Perks of being a Wallflower', I've decided to give the unedited, honest style of writing a go to see whether I'm suddenly hit with the reason for hiding behind sarcasm, song lyrics and scattering John Lennon quotes throughout my writing. There's a line in the film (or book, if you're a longstanding POBAW fan and not just jumping on the bandwagon because Hermione from Harry Potter stars in the film) where Patrick says to Charlie "you see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand. Welcome to being a wallflower." and when I heard this line, I knew I had to write. This line marks a form of initiation for Charlie into the group of 'wallflowers' and although my brain is slightly addled from too many cold and flu tablets, I understood exactly what that time of initiation is like; to be accepted by a group of people so effortlessly cool, deemed as 'misunderstood' by the rest of the world looking in because mentally, they're ahead of the game, with their music taste and their dress sense and the tattoos symbolising spirituality.

Throughout school and college, my group of friends were always seen as outcasts (or weirdos...); we listened to music people hadn't heard off, became vegans/vegetarians for fun and developed huge crushes on Hugh Grant. We merged as a group because we came together in all of our individuality, too young to really know what to do with this...power. Except back then, it wasn't a power and being individual wasn't necessarily seen as a good thing. However, when I look back now, I wouldn't change any of the fashion statements (the green hair and peace signs drawn on my face in lilac eyeliner), the music or the adventures that took place for the world because they prepared me to embrace the 'wallflower' title. But then I left college and entered reality and it became difficult to embrace the individuality. I soon realised that the 'real world' is less accepting than naive 14 year olds and originality tends not to be encouraged. I knew I wanted to be a writer but my little seaside town lacked the opportunity and in turn, the people lacked ambition and the ability to dream.

When I moved to London, I explored places like Camden and Hackney and watched, with wide eyes, how people embraced their wallflower titles, how they merged and that tiny wallflower became a bouquet of absolute beauty, fuelled not by fertiliser but by a shared aspiration. I so badly wanted to be apart of this culture, the culture keen to embrace one another's flaws and every single idea, the culture my small town so badly needed. Not long after this, I met the people to complete my bunch, the rest of the wallflowers who fit into my bouquet perfectly, the individuals with their own crazy ideas bigger than my own. It was as if the King of Individuality, David Bowie, just knew that we'd blossom together.
In turn, I've become a part of one of the greatest teams known to man; the IAmMusic.TV crew are unlike anybody else I've ever met. A bit like the Lost Boys and Peter Pan, we share this burning passion to change the world by using our powers/talents/minds for good, instead of evil.

We're the opposite of being wallflowers but being accepted into the IAmMusic.TV team, for me, felt a bit like how I imagine Charlie felt when the wallflowers gave him his initiation into their group. It is the greatest and most comforting feeling to know that whatever happens, you have a group of people willing to accept you for your flaws, your mentaliity and your passion. It's different to being part of a friendship group originating from school because you grow together within that sort of situation, whereas with the IAmMusic.TV team,we've already done the majority of our educating, seperately, and now we're just merging together to cram the last bits of knowledge we need in order to take over the world. We get each other, we understand every single person's mindset and there's nothing but support involved.
The confirmation of this for me was New Years Eve; the site has been live for just over a year and things are going well. IAmMusic.TV hold a live night, once a month, where the team get to hang out and put the world to rights over large quantities of alcohol and live music. Through these nights, we've come to know each other pretty well, we've seen each other drunk and we've swapped secrets. But New Years Eve was different. We said goodbye to 2012 and welcomed in 2013 huddled together on Tower Bridge. We made ridiculous memories, silly catchphrases and as the sun began to rise on January 1st 2013, we witnessed each other at our most vulnerable - with a fresh year ahead of us and brand new foundations to lay, realisation that we had already started to build our own empire, together, began to set in.

For me, I knew I had stumbled across something pretty special when I proceeded to vomit in the kitchen sink after too many vodka shots and after cleaning up, carried on dancing with the rest of the team. Nobody commented on the fact that I probably smelt a bit disgusting or that I couldn't handle my drink (to be fair, I totally can...just not vodka), we just carried on laughing and taking photos of a night none of us would remember in the morning. 

It's about knowing that I could admit to something really embarrassing or shameful and instead of being greeted with eyes full of judgement, I'll be greeted with a sarcastic comment, a hug and a glass of something really strong. It's about being surrounded by people who understand my stupid moods and yet still have my back. The people who let me make my mistakes, knowing I'll learn from them, as opposed to stopping me and stunting my emotional and mental development. Most of all, it's about knowing I can write this and the people I intentionally didn't name will know this is about them and instead of cringing at how honest this has been, how open this huge public display of affection is, they'll comment on my antics from New Years Eve or  another member of the team's confessions. 

These are the people I'm going to write about when I'm old and grey, the people I imagined meeting all those years ago when I felt like I couldn't possibly be the only person in the world to hate Rihanna, the people who make me be a better version of myself, the ones I couldn't imagine life without now. 

This might just be another story someday but I couldn't think of a group of people I'd rather write about.

“I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and then make the choice to share it with other people. Maybe that is what makes people "participate.”