24 hours without a friend

“Big olde gorilla balls”

Seventeen months ago I said goodbye to Ocean Beach, San Diego.

In saying goodbye to a place I felt was my home, I also said goodbye to people I had grown to love as family.

I had been a resident of OB for, in total, one month (having taken a three week break to embrace Hawaiian adventures) then returned to my home by the ocean.

As a traveller with a limited legal timeframe in one country, to spend a month of your time in one single hostel, one single area of a larger district, city, State – you would have to be either unadventurous and afraid to leave a known comfort zone, or completely in love with the people and the place of where you were.

Four months, ten States, nineteen hostels, three cars, one tent, five new friends’ houses and seventeen State lines into my trip, I’m happy to say I was the latter.

I spent my New Years of 2014 becoming 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany with my best friend, my boo, who I had met in our beloved OB fourteen months before that and whom I had also explored two islands of Hawaii and moved to Australia with.

When I arrived back in OB from Kauai, Hawaii I had talked of my new plan to travel in Australia for a year and had come up with another plan that once my time in Australia had ended, I would fly back to San Diego to spend Christmas and New Year (14/15) with my family that were building their futures in OB; Katya and Davey. Two sweethearts from Alabama.

When Australia didn’t turn out to be as I had imagined and I returned home after just two months there, I spent a month revisiting family and friends across England and moved back to London, alone, to start my new journey at the headquarters of the fifth biggest law firm in the world. Two months later I moved in my journey to a top media and entertainment law firm, and that’s where I am now. Worlds away from my drifter life in OB.

Yesterday, as I sleepily looked at my phone listing notifications from various social media platforms I swiped onto a friend from OB having changed his profile photo to my photo of a small group of us on the porch of our OB home, our colourful hostel. I smiled at the memory and began to scroll through my friends’ news, stopping as my heart tried to break through my chest when I saw another OB friend had created a photo album titled “Davey RIP xx” enclosing a collection of pictures of my friend’s happy features.

Panicked and numb I asked myself if it was April Fools Day and was my friend that stupid to think that’s freakin funny!? No, it was April 5th.

I scanned further and saw another OB friend with a memorial message. I clicked to Davey’s page, thinking he was going to be completely embarrassed when he had to tell everyone that it was a prank, and scrolled through to the beginning message in this thread of memorial to find the original one. From his sister. Confirming our worst. Davey died.

Davey. The tiny framed ballet dancing boy from Alabama that took no shit and talked like he walked in front of ten men, spoke the hard and funny truth, created laughter with his smart mouthed sass and was the truest friend I could ask for when it came to backing me up without my even knowing and praising me to see my potential.

When I was the only person surfing in the Pacific Ocean, just a two minute walk from our hostel, without a wetsuit, he described me as having “big olde gorilla balls!” with his beautiful Alabama sass. This was repeated any time I did anything brave.

I hadn’t even realised I was doing anything to warrant acknowledgement but he would describe me as brave to everyone he met there; “don’t mess with her, she’s got big olde gorilla balls!” I couldn’t help but laugh every time he said those words about me.

His encouragement, echoed on our last day together when we got food and, in the spirit of our upcoming Thanksgiving, gave thanks for all we had, he stated he was thankful to meet such brave individual women as the ones sat with him in that moment.

On my train to London to begin my new journey at the fifth biggest law firm in the world I remembered his words and found confidence in myself to go for this.

Today is my second day knowing I will never see Davey again. I will live the rest of however long my life is knowing our paths won’t ever cross again.

When we left OB we all stated we would see each other somewhere along the road again.

Our first friend to die before any of us had this chance has terrified me.

What is his death teaching me, I’m not sure yet. But I am sure that it has woken me up to the already brewing realisation that I miss the road. I miss the people. I miss the stories they tell and the stories we encounter together. I miss the memories we make and the simplest human kindness you find in new friends that bare no judgement and love that person in front of them, encouraging the strength inside them to grow.

Whatever else I learn from Davey’s death I welcome. But for now I still can’t allow the knowledge of never seeing him again to sink in.

Someone that special deserves to live, and in us he will, but I’m going to miss that boy so much.

In eternal loving memory of Davey.

xxHBxx