H is my closest and dearest friend. Our friendship presently spans 22 years. We met through a mutual acquaintance at university. If you met us you might think we were chalk and cheese but our chemistry works. There are similarities in our personal histories and we are both independent and creative women. To this day I don't think we have ever missed each others birthdays. H isn't just a friend though, she is family and my most trusted confidant.
Amongst her many qualities H is dependable, down to earth, a great listener, a skilled thinker, empathic, warm hearted, cultured and particularly well read. She is also a very talented visual artist. I am very proud to say that I own three of her original artworks that each mark an important moment in my life.
I think H gave me this piece when I was either 21 or 22. I love the earthy textures and colours, and the way the paint has been manipulated and scratched away. We were both post graduates at this point. H escaped the desolation of a ramshackle Lancashire farmhouse to come and live with me and a bunch of other twenty somethings in an even more run down terraced house in the post graduate and burglar friendly enclave of Hyde Park, Leeds.
These were very happy and creative times.
H found an art studio and networked with other local artists. I was a burgeoning DJ. H always accompanied me to my weekly radio show on Dream FM; a pirate station which was particularly popular with the petty inmates of Armley jail as my fan mail will testify.
Anyway we had far too much time on our hands. It was an era of leisurely ease, late nights and large vats of vegetable pasta. Our home became ground zero for many a riotous house party. A lot of fun and buffoonery was had.
This was my 30th birthday present from H. Its a small pencil sketch based on one of her larger pieces. By our third decade H had become an established artist and had moved to London with her long term partner to participate in a three year art residency scholarship based in the East End. I moved to the big smoke during my thirty first year. I still DJ'ed occasionally but was now in the throes of reinventing myself as a tai chi floating, yoga bending, corporate clad 'jobs to pay the rent' woman.
Our early thirties was a period when H and I spent many a Sunday afternoon engrossed in conversation on Hampstead Heath or encased in the inviting darkness of a North London cinema. I've lost count the number of movies we've seen together. I don't want to picture the mountainous heap of sweet pop corn that got scoffed. Actually H never really ate pop corn, she always used to smuggle in a packet, or three, of Mintolas. I've no idea where she purchased them from. I still haven't located anywhere in London that stocks them.
We once found ourselves rather spectacularly lost on Hampstead Heath. It was a damp, drizzly November day. H and I had decided upon an afternoon amble as part of my 31st celebrations. The idea of a bracing walk had seemed like a good one. Not when we found ourselves in a directional muddle and at the mercy of our map reading skills. The icy drizzle morphed into vengeful rain pellets that targeted us with missilic gusto. Then the swift arrival of an inky dusk mid afternoon sent us into a tail spin. Tree branches that had offered a protective canopy in the daylight now clawed menacingly over our heads. There was no one else about but our nervous selves as we trudged aimlessly round and round the same path. It all got a little Blair Witch. After an hour we eventually found the exit and the reassuring sight of H's car. Still, the afternoon had not been not in vain. It made several generous servings of victoria sponge and a mug of strong brew back at H's taste all the more sweeter.
This masterpiece is my wedding gift from H. I always secretly hoped she would bequeath Younger Dad and I an original canvas to mark our nuptials. And I wasn't disappointed. On the day before our wedding H arrived in her car and unloaded a very large and beautifully wrapped square shape.
"No" I gasped. I couldn't believe it. I was ecstatic.
Inside our living room, I carefully prised the delicate tissue off to reveal an H original.
H and I spent a decadent afternoon together getting pampered at the Cow Shed. Then the night before the ceremony we kicked back, ate food, drank sparkling wine and watched Wood Allen.
We also talked about the years gone by and our hopes and fears for the future.
I love H's work and not just because she is my best friend. I love her subject matter; the relationship between architecture and urban space. I really like the way she plays with perspective and cleverly incorporates industrial materials into her pieces.
H was the best woman at my wedding and will be for the rest of my days. I honestly can't imagine life without her.
Ten months separate H and I in age and do you know what is so poetic? Ten months now separate the age between our daughters. And we are both God Mothers to each others children.
This post is dedicated to H. A wonderful, wonderful friend.
I am linking up this post with Midlife Single Mum's very imaginative Art I Heart meme. The idea is that you choose one piece of art you feel drawn to and write a short story about it. Although in this case it was three pictures and long rambling prose.