Letters from Lockdown 42: Anokhi Shah

A nostalgic ode to friendship, growth and travel. 

Dear Bex,

Look, how far we have come.

Through the best of times, the worst of times, side by side through it all.

Through lectures, lovers and losses.

Our eighteen year-old selves would stare in awe at the women we have become. The women we have helped each other become. You taught me to be impulsive and embrace hedonism, I taught you self-love and adoration.

From mushroom curries during your vegan love affair, to perfecting parmigiana and soft-boiled eggs, side by side. From holding you tightly through sadness and despair to watching you recognise your brilliance and beauty.

From weeping on your lap about that boy I used to know, to you weeping on mine about that girl. From emotional dissertation breakdowns to scary real-life grown up ones. From the absurd hysteria and stupidity of thinking we were losing each other. To reckless decisions, made better side by side.

To Fridays at the Vic, Fuel and Everett road. To ungodly highs at the Jazz Café and shrooms in Platt Fields Park. To Wilberforce Road and Walthamstow. To third-wheeling and our trios. To Seville, Birkenstocks and Fillipé.

To chaining roll ups and iced coffees in the Manchester sun. To cathartic moments of splendour in Jupapina, hanging fresh linen, stargazing and smoking Vogues by the dozen.

To Marcelo and Mariana. To Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. To the beauty we have shared.

To the exaltations of the Jungle trek and finding Prosecco in La Paz.

To Club Colombia, Aguila, Cusquena and Huari.

To being alone, but together.

Only you could make me laugh through my all-consuming altitude-stricken sadness hiking Rainbow Mountain. Only you could help me vanquish my fears and plunge into that zip line across the Amazon. Only you understand my eccentricities over baked beans and addiction to white jeans.

It’s hard not being side by side, through this. Through this weirdness. It’s hard hearing your voice cracking on the phone, and not being able to cradle you.

But soon we will be singing Laura Marling at the top of our voices, ten whiskeys down and another ten to go. Soon we will hike through the Peak District and wild camp in the Highlands, appreciating life and its beauty more than ever. Soon we will dance till six in the morning. Soon we will stay up until sunrise. Soon we will drink too many pints of Blue Moon, and stagger home.

Soon, you’ll tell me that a boy isn’t worth my thoughts and tears.

Soon, I’ll tell you to remember just how much you are worth.

Soon, we will sit on a plane and be ready for another adventure, side by side, again.

Look, how far we have come.


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