Allow me to set the scene my lovelies, because today I feel the need to reminisce and I would like you to all join me on my journey.
Four years ago England had a world cup game. It was nothing remarkable, although as I recall, they won this particular one. I know, hard to believe. But still, win they did. I was recovering from the most horrific experience of my life and was finally feeling like a human again. After weeks of being in a variety of phases of recovery, I finally felt as though I would like to go and socialise with my friends again and even risk my first drink in a very long time. I had been living back in my own place for a few days and it just felt like the time was right. And it was.
I put on my very pretty summer dress, the one that my Mum had taken me to buy the day I found out I still had three weeks before my surgery and that meant almost a month more of agony. I cried. My mum consoled me, then she took me to H&M and bought me pretty things. Along with the tramadol, this was a mild relief. So anyway, there I was, in my beautiful summer dress and some rather swish knock-off cowboy boots, also a sympathy purchase from my lovely parents.
I trundled on down to the pub to watch the game with my friends and to indulge in my very first alcoholic beverage in what felt like a lifetime. The game wasn't bad, the beer was refreshing and the company was divine. I can still remember how it felt to take that first sip of Corona. All the bad things of earlier weeks were suddenly muted and I was completely aware of my beautiful life being my own again.
As it turned out, that very first beer was not my only beer that day. As the afternoon progressed I felt as though another surely wouldn't hurt. It didn't. I laughed and celebrated with a whole pub full of wonderful people. My Hob crew. I decided to break out the eye liner and stick it out for the rest of the evening. I think I even had another one or two beers. After all the time without drinking, those three or four bottles saw me giggling like a school girl and loving every moment.
Eventually it was time to call it a night. Closing time, as Semisonic might say, or rather, sing. So I took my happy buzz and I began the walk up Sheep Street to my quirky Market Square home. As I left the pub that night, I had no idea that my life was about to be changed. Forever. Again. Only this time, for all good reasons.
I had walked most of the way up the street when I saw a good friend of mine heading towards me with another guy, someone I hadn't ever seen before. I stopped to say hi to the amazing Chubby and we were very pleased to see each other; he and I have a long history of being awesome together. He introduced me to his friend, who he had just taken out for pre-birthday drinks on the eve of his 24th birthday. That friend was Tom. Some casual looking Australian guy who I immediately thought was amazing. That could have been the beer, the accent, the fact that he threw his arms around me and picked me up, saying “I love tall chicks”, or maybe, just maybe, because he is, in fact, amazing.
Well, here we are, on the eve of another of Tom's birthdays, four years later. Only this time it's different. This time I am his girlfriend. A fact I really rather like, actually, if truth be known. And I also now live in Australia, where I have been since the last few days of 2012. I am happy and healthy and living my dream. My life is filled with incredible people who make my heart swell and my mind soar. I count myself to be among the luckiest of people. My life is bursting with love, hope and adventure and the people I surround myself with, both near and far, are well and truly my raison d'être.
So there we have it. Four years ago I met someone who has changed my life immeasurably and I also learnt the value of those already in my life, far more than I ever imagined. I would like to take this moment to thank you all, for everything you have done for me, and to also add a few special thank yous, especially from those dark days of being very poorly.
In no particular order, of course, I wish to acknowledge your greatness and beauty:
To my parents, without whom I would not be able to wake up each day. To you I owe my every success, my every smile, laugh, joyous moment, everything that is good about me comes from you two and I can never even come close to thanking you enough. Thank you for celebrating my successes and picking up the pieces of my failures. Thank you for holding me up when I couldn't stand alone and for letting me fly when I could, but never being out of catching distance. Falling back on you is an honour I wish to never be without. So from the deepest, most loving and most humble part of me, I thank you.
To my family, both blood and extended. You keep me sane, you care about me and you support me in everything that I do. Smiths, Pooles, Drinkwaters, Chards, Dysons, Johnsons, Szczepaniks, Nolans, Wallises (!?), Cormacks, Winstones, Burgesses, Nashes, Pochuns, and probably a few more that I have forgotten to mention. My apologies, but I assure you the gratitude is no less.
To Hannah. For being Hannah. For bringing a picnic to my conservatory floor when I couldn't face going out, for taking me on a drive to pick a flower when I could. For always making me laugh and being ridiculous with me. For stealing cardboard cut-outs of racing drivers with me and sharing pizza with them. For goats and for carnage. For onesies and nesting. For drunken nights and for sober adventures. For inclusion in another mad family. For the valleys. Love Actually IS all around. For Michael and the Man Drawer. For everything.
To Nish for always being the Brownie to my Blondie. For long walks and for banter. For sharing so much and for being the best housemate I will ever have. For vodka, lemonade and lime. For beach times and for Brighton adventures. For making Bournemouth my home and for Swayze. In all the ways. For the Triangle of Love. For the loud and caring family. For I've had the time of my life, and I owe it all to you.
To Beav and Train Man Dan for so many happy times. For showing Clapham who's boss and making Sutton look classy. For stealing pot plants and crashing buses. For terrorising Morrisons. For bus lane pushing. For a home on your sofa, for monkey pyjamas and for poos and wine. Sometimes at the same time. For failed vegetarian snorty pigs. For being my family, mad as you are.
To Emily. When we needed each other, we had each other completely. I will never forget that, however little we may need each other now. For trashy magazines in my hospital bed and for so many drunken nights there should definitely be some kind of montage movie. At least it would help us remember. For our past that has enriched our future.
To Thorpedo and Snowsniff for crazy adventures and mad bants. For taking our disruption to all our various places of residence. For traumatising a new boyfriend (Cruik the Crip) and an entire cafe with our hungover cannibalism plans. For smacking our patties with pride. For Tonks.
To BESCHP for trips and drinks and hangovers and touristing and love and movies. For late nights and for buses and taxis and cocktails. For the kind of friendship I only thought existed on Sex and the City. For honesty and glamour and pyjamas and autumn picnics. For memories and thoughtful gifts and parties and long talks and never letting me down. For being my voices of reason and my clarity in all storms. For being wrong in all the right ways. For us. Forever.
To Sally and Milly for being beautiful. For being Pink Ladies and for high heels and lipstick and judging and dancing and gin. For knowing that we are the Queens of Everything. For photos and late nights and gossip. For dancing like no one is watching and nailing it. For being sexy and smart and being who the young'uns wanted to be.
To all of my Hob family, both past and present, those who have come and gone and those who have stuck it out. For being a place of refuge when I thought my world was falling apart and I had to start all over. For putting up with me day in and day out. For free soft drinks when I had no money, for free alcohol when I helped out, for the most expensive drinks in Bicester that I still wanted to pay for because there was nowhere else I'd rather be. For a card signed by so many, delivered by one special person who never let me down in my hour of need when even my own housemates didn't bother to contact me (yes Kaff, I mean you). For lock-ins and snow days and giant penises and quiz nights and mad dancing and dressing up, dressing down, glamming up and everything in between. For being the place to go when you never fitted in at school and for knowing you belong.
To Kathy, Xander, Ava, David, Grant, Amanda and the Upper Landsdowne community. For being my “Farm Family” and for teaching me more than you will ever know. For animals and love and adventures. For three and a half months I will treasure forever and a new extended family that I will never be without.
To the Farrows and all their offshoots. For taking me in and for sharing Tom. For the big brother I have always wanted. For BBQs and laughs. For a home away from home.
To Tom. For finally choosing to make me yours. For four years of friendship that I couldn't imagine my life having been without and for just under 10 months as an actual couple. For showing me that there is always hope and waiting is worth it. For all the new adventures you have introduced me to and for the now, where we are and where we will go. For being you and for wanting me. For the family that you have brought me into. For everything I always wanted.
To all my friends and family, without whom I couldn't ever be truly happy. Thank you for believing in me and being there for me. I am sorry if I have missed anyone out who should have a personal mention, but please know that I am eternally grateful and that without you, I would not be the person I am today. And let me tell you, I am very happy with who I am and I am proud of myself. But most of all I am proud of where I come from and the people I choose to fill my life with. Thank you.
And here is that recovery beer for you all ~ 23/06/10. And to many more!