Sometimes we recieve posts that are so beautifully written, and deal with subjects that are painful in such an inspiring way, that I am grateful that AOW exists and these posts can be shared. Because they deserve to be. Especially this post. This is about friendships that were once everything, then drift, but where the love remains. This is about what happens to friendships when with all the will in the world, life gets in the way. This is the story of a friendship born in the unlikliest of places and one that social media has sustained, albeit in a very different form.
I think we’ve probably all experienced this, to some extent. Female friendships, good female friendships, are the hardest of all relationships to untangle.
Over to you, Chirsty:
Much as I’m sure most people who write these posts do, I feel the need to start with a caveat: this is not so much about the friend who made me me, as much as it is about the friend who made, and still makes me want to be more. I suspect if she ever reads any of this it will come as a bit of a surprise and I hope to God she will forgive me if any of the following is over-share.
I first met Chloe when shortly after I arrived in NZ in 2005. I was as far from home as you can get without starting to come back, having broken up with the love of my life. I still loved him, he still loved me, it wasn’t working. I had got there on a one way ticket, with next to no money and no plan. I was clueless, afraid, excited and terrified. We crossed paths cooking pasta in a hostel kitchen when I divulged my total lack of plan. “I’m heading to Queenstown” she said “it’s this amazing tiny little town in the middle of nowhere on the shores of this incredible lake, hugged by a mountain range on all sides” I elected to head that way too.
In the way that travellers often do, we swiftly became very close. She had decisively left behind a high-powered and well paid job, and sold a flat to fulfil the dream of being there. I was coasting through a very bizarre and disjointed time in my life with next to no plan at all, and yet we bonded. We flatted together, then didn’t, but never lived very far apart and QT was our world for that time. It was everything Chloe suggested and more and, though it took a while, I came to think of it as home in a way I never expected I would so far from all the rocks that anchored everything I knew about life and myself.
Everyday I was inspired by New Zealand, the people, the lifestyle and Chloe. She showed me what it was to be fearless. Or rather maybe, what it was to put yourself out there and suck up what life could offer in spite of fear. At that time we probably shared an aspect of not having our lives decided, not knowing what we wanted to ‘be’ but this never appeared the obstacle to her that it did to me. And through it all Chloe had so much passion for so many things that I couldn’t help but get swept up. Whether it was discovering secret bars and delicious Pinot Noirs, or skydiving over the snow-capped mountains I took my lead from her zest for it all. And throughout she took the most amazing photos of our life.
I knew I was lost and searching for something, anything, to anchor to. And the times we came to loggerheads were, more often than not, me losing the line between finding my inspiration in her and wanting to be her. She threw herself out there over and over, both metaphorically and, through completing her AFF skydiving qualification, literally throwing herself out of planes. I thought I could follow; I wanted that dream to be my dream and to fulfil it like she was, but it wasn’t and realising that taught me some lessons too. But she never stopped inspiring me to find myself somewhere in the whole experience.
We drifted, as travelling friends do and, at some point I felt ready to return to the UK. And we kept in touch for a while. But I can admit that, as much as I wish I wasn’t, I’m too much a proximity friend and rubbish at bridging the gap. And we drifted some more.
But, thanks to Facebook, I still knew a little of what my friend was up to. She found the love of her life in an amazing gorgeous kiwi (right when she wasn’t looking) She ran a business making cards that were little works of art and later branched into wedding photography, her photos no less beautiful. When I heard that she had lost her mum, I wrote her a long letter in a sympathy card but, for reasons I still don’t wholly understand, never sent it. The gap widened.
So instead I followed her blog and marvelled at the beauty of her photographs (no, really, if any of you haven’t paid a visit to Chloe Lodge Photography
do it. Now) I jumped for joy inside when she married her wonderful man and was moved by the photos of her incredibly perfect wedding in Italy (has there ever been a more lovely AOP in the rain
?) I watched with green eyes as she relocated to Paris to follow her love of photography in a master degree (who hasn’t wanted to follow that dream: Paris? You know you have). Later still the gob-smackingly brave move to KL and a life in Malaysia. I watched it all from a distance, no less awed, no less inspired.
With Facebook the only way we were really still in touch I realised very late that she was pregnant, not long before Max was born, but did a little jig inside with delight. She was always going to be an incredible mum, that much was obvious even back when we were flatmates. And although I was so thrilled for her, I probably didn’t tell her past a wee Facebook comment on a comment.
Maybe you know how it is: you have an amazing friend but you drift. And suddenly for reasons you cant put your finger on, it seems like too much time as gone by. They have got on with their life and you feel something like baggage from times gone by. You don’t want to impose. It’s the way we all lose some of the most inspiring influential and important people to us: time and geography. And it’s silly. No, more than that, its downright fucking stupid. But no less true for all that.
But funnily enough, it’s through Chloe that I found AOW. Following a link on her Facebook lead me to you all, and I’m so so glad for that. Even since NZ I have never really stopped looking for what I want, and what on earth Im doing in life. I still am, in my own low key way. It is what it is but in that search I’ve never had many ‘girlfriends’. But from that day your blogs and comments have opened up my eyes to a whole world of amazing fantastic and inspiring women. And a bridge to find them. I have felt privileged to meet some of you at AOParty & AOHen
, and hope I can be lucky enough to count those of you I have as friends.
I miss Chloe, but I feel massively lucky to have had her as my friend for that time, and for the impact (bigger than you’ll ever know) on how much I want to be the best of me. And how much it still gives me hope. I love LOVE how she is still all the wonderful things I admired and was inspired by. And I hope in the future I can get over myself and bridge that gap again.
Chlo, if you’re reading this: never stop being you. You rock:)