With the six little symbolic birds emblazoned on my skin, a new and incredibly exciting life to start, and a complete transformation of character, I headed with mixed emotions back to Never-never land.
Before I said my wistful goodbye's to my beloved Silver Sisters and the memories of my outrageously silver summer, Florentine gave me a letter. Now if I had the patience, time or even slight inclination to believe that anyone apart her and I would understand it, I'd sit and type out the entire letter because it was simply spectacular. For example, half way through a paragraph explaining how we first met, she writes in brackets, mid-sentence, "(Oh gross I just sneezed in my hand - and not to the good dry kind. Brb.)"
The letter mostly contained nostalgic re-enactments of our various silver adventures over summer, or stupid things we'd said and done together, but there was one bit at the end which really caught me off-guard. If there was ever a worry in my mind that I'd revert to the person I was previously at Uni, this little paragraph would chase those doubts away eternally and irrevocably. I think it was most poignant and unexpected because Florentine was one of those special kinds of friends that is the first to take the piss out of you, the first to call you out when you've stepped out of line, the first to mock you when you're being pretentious, the first to feign disgust when you do something right or get praised and the one who is always honest with you straight to your face, without any concern of offending you. I guess that's what you call a best friend. (Naturally, a friend who is going to mock my pretentiousness endlessly as soon as she sees this post.) The last little bit of her letter said;
"It's been a pleasure knowing you so far Katie. You're bloody fucking hilarious, sweet, generous and so much fun. You're such a breath of fresh air in my life. 'In this life there are grey people. There are so many grey people with grey lives which will only amount to things unmemorable. Then there are the silver. Silver people are the opposite. These are the people who achieve greatness whether that was their intention or not' - Do you know who said that? Katie Fucking Oldham, that's who. Love you lots, Florentine."
I've never felt such an overwhelming gratitude for the existence of a human being. All the things she'd said about me, I felt the same toward her, and I knew that she just, simply, got it. So I knew that even if I went back to Uni, fell out with all my old 'friends' because I'd come back a different person, and found no other people who matched my new/old personality, it wouldn't matter. Because Florentine was one of those rare people you meet in life, and you just know, instantly, that the day before you first met, was the last day you'd ever not have them in your life.
Little could I ever have known (or probably should've expected, knowing my way with fate) that I would meet the people that would change my life and finalise my transformation into the person I have now become, on the first ever day returning to Uni.
The way I met them still makes me laugh to this day. It was mid-September, the first night of Fresher's Week, and after a bit of a rush moving into our new house, flaunting my new tattoo to my cooing housemates and grabbing the first outfit out of the top of my moving bags, we'd all gathered in the kitchen to begin pre-drinking. Then we discovered that we all had tickets to the student union nightclub, except one person. He needed to go down to the campus bar which was next door to the nightclub, to look for people selling tickets, but didn't want to go alone. After a moments contemplation, I decided to go with him. (I still marvel that if I hadn't offered to help him, then I would never have met these people, I would be in a completely different world right now. )
The University's nightlife is in a sort of courtyard with a large pub spanning one side, the old SU on the opposite two sides and the nightclub and bar on the other side. In the middle are several granite block benches and a few trees in a modern minimalist layout - the prime location for the severely drunk, paralytic and vomiting alike to gather between the hours of 11pm and 6am every weekend and the occasional weekday. After a fruitless search for a ticket-seller, this is where we spotted our target. Drunk beyond all resemblance of being human, limbs flailing everywhere and time remaining conscious rapidly decreasing, I noticed the freshers pass lanyard around his neck and went in for the kill. I put my arm around the lolloping human and struck up a pointless conversation before realising he couldn't even speak he was so drunk, so decided to drop the oh-so-uncasual "Oh no way, is that a Freshers pass you got there?"
"Now come on, that's not playing fair is it. Look at him, he's helpless." I looked up to find three boys sitting on the bench opposite, watching me and the drunkard with expressions of mild amusement. The one on the left looked like he'd walked out of a teenage boyband, wearing a band t-shirt and light blue hoodie with swoopy blonde hair and stylish glasses. The one on the right was grumpy-looking, wearing a navy anorak and had shoulder length auburn hair. The middle one, who'd spoken, looked like a vampire - tall and slim wearing a complete dark burgundy suit and white shirt with his black hair combed to one side, impossibly pale skin and the most piercing blue eyes I'd ever seen. They looked like three characters who'd walked out of three different books and just happened to sit on the same bench together just as I'd looked up.
The middle one, vampire, took a drag of his cigarette and smirked. I turned my attention back to the drunkard who was now trying to kiss me. Boyband reject laughed and said "So fresher has a girlfriend!" I protested, trying to push the drunkard away just as boyband shouted "Smile"
"Come one, do your best fresher's girlfriend impression!"
"Here I'll help" Anorak jumped in with a massive thumbs up. I sighed and complied while he took the photo. They all laughed. Realising my attempts to procure the pass from the fresher were futile, I turned to the boys. They certainly didn't look like they were there to get messed up and go clubbing.
"Are you guys in a band?" Was apparently the most important question in my mind at that time. They laughed and replied they were not. "Why are you here?"
"To enjoy the show, clearly." The vampire said, gesturing out at the ever-increasing crowds of scantily-clad stumbling girls and drunken boys hurling abuse at one another. I cringed as I remembered how not even six months ago I was one of these people. "Why are you here, freshers girlfriend?"
"Failing at trying to find a ticket for my housemate, clearly. Thank you for your kind assistance."
"Come on now, you can't use your charms to prowl on drunk freshers and rob them blind. We're just looking out for the poor sod."
I replied that there was no malice in my fresher robbery, but I soon forgot entirely about my ticketless housemate. We began to talk and I discovered that they were fourth years, having all just returned from doing study abroad year's in various countries of the world. With each curious little titbit they each said, I found myself irrepressibly intrigued by these boys.
"So how old are you, fresher's girlfriend?" asked anorak.
They all winced in varying expressions of surprise and distaste.
"Christ. So young." said vampire. "Question, who do you think is the oldest out of all of us?"
I surveyed them all carefully, before saying "You." and gesturing at the boy on the right. Vampire and boyband laughed and playfully pushed him with a jeering 'ahhh' sound.
"Why do you say that?" He said, defensively.
"Well for one thing," I replied, "You're wearing a fucking anorak." To which, for some reason, they all found hilarious.
After almost an hour of wildly intriguing discussion, boyband suddenly exclaims "There we go!", showing me the picture of the drunk fresher, anorak and I on Facebook. I sighed again, but as he showed me his phone, I caught his name. But, for reasonable reasons because of reasons, I shall, of course, change these.
"So you're Alfie." I said to boyband and he nodded. "I'm Katie."
"Charles." said anorak.
"Jasper." said vampire.
We all nodded in silent agreement. At that moment, I could never have even dreamt of the impact they'd have on me. After that night and over the course of our friendship they would from then, until now and forever beyond, always be referred to as 'The Interesting Boys'.
|The moment we all met.|
|Jasper and I.|