I met Shelley when I saw there was someone new moving into the flat below me in Cheltenham. I knocked on the door to introduce myself and a firm voice came through the wood abruptly:
“Yes? Who’s that?”
“Errr, oh hello, my name is Tara, I’m from number 7 upstairs. Just, erm, saying hello.”
The door opened to a rather flustered Shelley, looking at me suspiciously like I was about to either try to sell her something she didn’t need or steal from her.
I welcomed her to Eton Lodge, asked her if she needed a hand (no) and told her I lived upstairs if she needed anything. I was off to the shops, so I asked her if I could get anything. She put her order in for 4 miniature bottles of white wine. I must have looked at her quizzically as she explained she didn’t want her mum (who was arriving the next day) to see any large empty wine bottles. I was intrigued by this, given that Shelley was a grown woman, and knew we’d have much more to chat about at some point.
It started a friendship of much, much laughter, prosecco, a reintroduction to gin, fun, burnt pizza, wandering downstairs/upstairs in our pyjamas, bin chat, life advice, Dunelm shopping trips, fashion and beauty advice, hair styling, Halloween make up, hangover chocolate runs, naked photoshoots, late night trips to A&E, dinner parties, a bike ride, hill walks, busventures that haven’t yet happened, banana porridge, Zizzi chicken pasta and life musings over tea.
I miss Eton Lodge life terribly. I miss popping downstairs for a cuppa in bare feet. I miss Shelley’s advice and wisecracks. I miss our impromptu weekend gin and champagne tasters. I miss Shelley.
One day, a few years ago, she gave me a crystal. A rose quartz, for love. I was supposed to keep it with me and rub it every now and then. I kept (and still keep) it in my handbag. Nothing happened for a while. Then I met Mike, when I wasn’t really expecting it, and that was it, we thought. Then that ended, so, nope.
What I’ve realised though, is that crystal has brought me love over the last few years. Just not the romantic kind. Love can take many forms, and it’s come in all shapes and sizes; my life is filled with it.
The most important kind it’s brought me though, is love for myself. Whether it’s the crystal, life events, Shelley’s advice or me maturing over the last few years it doesn’t really matter, what matters is that it’s there.