Letters From Lockdown 15: South

Dear Layla,

Hey. It’s been a while. I haven’t properly spoken to you for about 2 years now. Life just got in the way I guess. I know that’s not a real excuse but things are getting a bit crazy around here nowadays…

Let’s start with the fact that my brother is now 17. He can drive a CAR. WHAT. To me he’s still that 6 year old who gels his fringe up into a point and dances like a squirrel on caffeine and goodness knows what else, but alas he is old and dare I say it, mature?! I’m turning 21 this year, I’m impressed I made it this far too! I’ve had a fair few near misses (nothing serious don’t you worry) but here I am, alive and kicking as they say.

Secondly, I think I know who I am now. Crazy huh?! I fondly remember those days spent hanging upside-down from your monkey bars guessing where we’d be in 5/10 years time. Neither of us were even close when it came to me. Well okay, you guessed right with the fact that I’d be in University, but aside from that I’m afraid neither of us were accurate in our assumptions. I don’t play 9 instruments, and I still haven’t dyed my hair a crazy colour (although that is still very much on the cards!). I don’t even have the same name anymore so there’s that. I haven’t dated any boys because let’s be completely honest here, they smell really bad and they just don’t understand the complexities of womanhood like we need them to! I have, however, got a girlfriend. I know, right?! Little Christian me with her Nana’s rosary in her satchel would have possibly had a heart attack. As would Nana to be honest…

But yes, I have a girlfriend. I’ve had a couple actually, but this one is a keeper. I wish you could have met her Laz, you’d have loved her. She is your kind of quirky, and has a personality to compete with mine so there’s never a dull moment, she’s intelligent and driven and strong, she’s calm and caring when it counts and she’s the life of every party and night out. She’s got big soulful brown eyes like you, and dimples in her shoulders, she’s just great Laz, so incredibly brilliant, I can’t even begin to explain. I suppose you see her when you’re watching overhead sometimes though? She’s the spritely blonde who cuts about in a little purple car and black dungarees, normally seen with a cup of too-strong-coffee in her hand? Yeah, that’s my girl.

I told her about you the other day, on our drive back to University. I should probably explain a bit, the world is in turmoil, there’s a pandemic called “COVID-19” and our Prime Minister has declared a state lockdown so we aren’t allowed outside anymore, apart from to get to the shops or to do some exercise, and we aren’t allowed to socialise anymore in case we spread the virus. It all sounds a bit scary I know but your parents and sister are safe and as long as we do what we’re told then everything will be fine… But yes because of COVID-19 the University is closed so I came home to be with the family. During the drive I was allowed to control the music and I queued a bunch of songs that meant a lot to me, including one from Future Hearts. WHAT AN ALBUM. I still stand by the fact that (alongside Don’t Panic: It’s Longer Now!) it is All Time Low’s best album. They’ve released two more since Future Hearts: Last Young Renegade and Wake Up, Sunshine. I hope you’ve had a chance to listen to them, even though they aren’t a patch on their old stuff (Stella, HELLO?!?!).

I hope you still listen to Future Hearts too. I listen to it on this day every year, like I promised I would. The 15 year-old in me still jumps about like a loony to the absolute bops, and cries like a baby too. We were just kids in the dark weren’t we? Kicking and screaming, pretending we were runaways that danced with wolves. But you’re free now, no longer trapped in your cinderblock garden, you’re like a satellite watching over all of us and seeing the carnage we get into, wishing you could bail us out. Sometimes I wish you were here with us, we’d get the old gang back together and see how many party rings Josie can fit in her mouth, or drink Fanta too quickly and get the painfully funny giggle-burps. Other times I think you were lucky to get out when you did. I stopped being angry a long time ago. I still feel sad when I think about you but that’s normal; I’m only human after all. I know you’re safe and in a place where nothing can hurt you, and you’re united with people who love you and take care of you.

I hope to see you again when the time comes, but for now April 7th and an old album will do me fine.

Hearts, rainbows, and all the stars above,

South xxx

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