A feature for my friend

For Nicole, by

Nicole and I were friendly in school in Lima. She was a year above me, and we did some societies together, but we rarely hung out. When she came to Durham a year before I did, though, she made all the difference. In Durham, she’s alternately been provided guidance, emotional support, and many excuses to grab brunch or see another DST show. And then we went into lockdown together in the Northeast, with our families still in Lima.

Nicole and I suddenly went from friends who met up a few times a term to setting the table together for dinner every day for four months, and we’ve become much closer for it. We’ve seen each other through the sunnier days of lockdown, but also through the rough ones: missing our families, both of us grieving during the same week during lockdown, and all kinds of summative and end-of-year stress. If Nicole was like a cool cousin to me before lockdown, she’s now more like a sister: we’ve binge-watched shows together, gone online shopping, fixed a car, and experimented with everything from our haircuts to our wine tolerance over dinner (turns out you shouldn’t mix the grain and the grape for a reason!). I can’t imagine lockdown without her and can’t wait for our future adventures.

Sol and Nicole

For Liv, by

As thankful as I am for virtual conversations on social media, nothing can replace face to face contact. And there’s nothing I miss more than my weekend catch ups with Liv! From our weekend pub crawls in Leigh to going on our cute local drives, spending time with you is something I treasure.  Whenever I’ve felt upset, alone or in trouble, you’ve always been there to pick me up no questions asked. Not being able to see you and have our little catch-ups after coming home from Uni has been really tough. But, at the same time, it’s proven how solid our friendship is. Months have gone by without us seeing each other in person, yet when we reconnect I know nothing will have changed. As soon as this turbulent period has passed, you can bet I’ll be treating you to a Parma Violet Gin (or two!) I’m so proud of you for everything you’ve got through this year and you continue to inspire me every day. Can’t wait to give you a big hug and just hope it’ll be sooner rather than later. 

Liv and Katie

For Noama, by  

In tough times, there are two mantras: firstly, that one’s own wellness and self-care must sometimes be prioritized over external concerns; and, secondly, that talking things through with friends and receiving their love and support is perhaps the most healing practice there is.

In regular life, such a system works. While there are always people blacked out from the giving of friendship with the encompassing hole of their own problems, those in a comparatively good place are able to offer the love and support necessary to get them through it – and, in time, vice versa. The two-way street of good friendship continues. However, for many people and friendships in lockdown, the cycle stopped in its tracks. What happens when we are all going through a really tough time? Who is the giver and the receiver? What effect does it have upon us when an unprecedented number of us than ever need support yet, trapped unhappily in our homes, are radically unable to give the same in turn? 

I cannot emphasize enough my understanding that the blocking out or surface listening to the problems of others can become an unavoidable necessity for personal survival in times of stress. However, there are those – for whom I am writing this piece – for who, often despite significant personal difficulty, persevere in listening to and loving others also in need. 

Noama, you are my person. Despite our physical separation and during the gradual fragmentation of my home life, I know I could always count you on not only for joyful memes and humour but for a wonderful depth and consistency of listening and empathy. You had your own problems to focus on, yet I always knew when you asked how I was that you genuinely wanted to hear the full extent of my joy, sadness or anger. Such unfeigned kindness is not easy and not particularly common, and I hope you know how special you are. Thank you.

Image: Anemone123 via Pixabay

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