... and then she moved to bloody Berlin! Anyway, this is about my best friend and that kind of love, even when you live together. Because you live together, in fact.
I’ve left a lot of best friends and home towns. I’ve closed a lot of bedroom doors for the final time, their contents long shipped off to a new four walls. But I’ve never cried before leaving. I don’t know if I’ve ever cried more in front of anyone.
It was obvious for a long time that we’d be going our separate ways. I wanted to move to the East, Ana wanted to stay South, Kieran wanted to move North and I don't think Charlie wanted to live with any of us. Ana had said we could look for somewhere all together, back in February, but things had changed since then.
Since then we turned 21, handed in dissertations, got jobs in call centres and started paying council tax. None of us had really talked about it and then suddenly move out day came around and Charlie was sat in the front garden on the three piece suite we were giving up to the council, his shirt tied round his head in the July heat, swigging on a bottle of Lucazade.
Three days before, we’d held our final party. All of our furniture had been emptied out and we filled that decrepit old house full of friends and alcohol. The 82-pages of A4 depicting a moon landing still hung up on the wall in the living room, cotton wool doused in peppermint to ward off rats still stuffed every crevice in the staircase, a string of lights from a hazy Halloween party remained crammed down the side of the sofa.
We didn’t need to live with each other anymore. I hated that part of town and no-one liked my favourite part. They liked the abandoned industrial parks and pool halls of Peckham, I liked the 24 hour bagel shops and warehouse parties of Hackney. I thought it was as simple as that, and finally, somehow, every room was empty, every surface cleaned for the first and last time that year.
The tears began at four in the afternoon. By five my eyes were swollen and the skin around them shot with burst blood vessels. I was furious that night she left; I spent two hours peeling melted candle wax from the walls of her bedroom, trying to stuff her abandoned duvet into a bin bag and hovering up the spare change left scattered on her floor. But I cried and cried.
When you live with someone you get to see their glorious day-to-days. The way they make their first cup of tea after a long shift. Abandoned cereal bowls left on the front door mat, contact lense paraphernalia, greying washing, various different types of soy milk, bags of abandoned spinach gone gloopy. Drunken munchies, pajamas at lunchtime. And day to day you probably hate all that stuff. But when you say goodbye to it, if that friend was true, you’ll miss it with a dull, aching pain that stays through the years. Keeping friends after you’ve lived with them is a rare, precious form of alchemy, but I miss Ana every day.