Since birth I have been somewhat used to the nomadic lifestyle due to having both a dad and step dad in the British Army. This meant we were often relocated across the country almost every 2 years (sometimes more), my brother and I together went through at least 8 different schools and I was used to meeting new people and making new friends.
However, when my step dad’s 40th birthday approached and he retired from service our family was relieved from having to move any further and we settled in Colchester, Essex. I was born in this town; the majority of my mum’s family are here and it is where I have proportionally spent the most time growing up. 8 years later and we are still here moving only once this previous December, which since the longest I had lived in a house before that was 3 years, was quite a change for me.
I thought my ties with the army were over, never having to face the consequences of relocating again. That was until my best friend told me his dad was being stationed in Thorney Island, West Sussex. He had moved here 2 years ago at the start of my 2nd year at college. I was supposed to be studying child care at the Colchester Institute after failing my 1st year of Sixth Form College but due to a serious lack of interest in the course and a general teenage rebelling stage of my life I seemed to still spend the majority of my time with all of my friends at the Sixth Form. This is where we met, through the giant friendship group that seemed to have occurred in the smoker’s area from everyone’s mutual interest of chaining fags instead of attending lessons. This is where you came to fail college (but have a good time doing so).
Roughly 2 years went by filled with memories, lost friends and even a Christmas day spent together and we ended up closer than ever. That’s when he broke the news to me and we entered a will he/won’t he period of whether or not he would be leaving with his parent’s back to his childhood island. He finally made the decision to try a new adventure 110 miles away and set his leaving date to 29th March.
We planned a leaving night out for him and he invited so many of his friends, we even got our friends from Dundee to visit that weekend to join in with the celebrations. So many people turned up, everyone looked amazing and got royally pissed for the occasion! It was a cracking night and a perfect send off for him, even if he can’t remember it all that well.
I wanted to give him a leaving gift that showed him how much he meant to me and so many other people so I made him a scrap book of his time in Colchester that, despite it being short, was so influential. I filled it with pictures of memories with all of his different friends and gathered messages from everyone to write in it. I had to remember that however hard it was for me to have my best friend leave, it would be even harder for him having to leave not just me but everyone else, so I made him a gift that would show how loved he really was by everyone. The day before he left we went out to dinner with the other part of our trio and I gave him the gift that I had worked so hard on and tried so hard not to tell him about (I have a habit of telling people what I have got them before I give it to them because I get too excited). He loved it! Read the whole thing with an elated smile on his face and only stopped when it got to my leaving message at the end because he started to well up and decided to save the tears for when we weren’t in a public restaurant.
I can’t say the final goodbye was particularly emotional. We had decided to send him off in a farewell ‘smoke’ as it had become a favourite passed time of ours and any tears were masked by the glaze of our eyes. But after our hug goodbye that was that and he was gone.
Adjusting to life without your best friend can be difficult. Particularly if it’s someone you see almost every day. I do have quite a bad memory and tend to forget about aspects of my life if they occur more than a few months ago. I’m not saying that I have forgotten about Joe at all, we speak every day and thanks to FaceTime we see each other more than when he lived here some days. However my brain forgets sometimes what it was like to live 4 minutes round the corner from him now that he’s 2 and half hours away. It’s sad but can also be quite helpful. I do wish I could just jump in the car and see him songs length later, or spend a Friday night in town dancing with him, or smoke a joint in a field together somewhere. But I know if I ever need his advice, or to vent to him or just talk about Glee to someone that he’s only a phone call away and I am counting down the days till he visits in July! I love you Joe.
Thanks for reading,