There’s something about being in an unknown city that forces people to grow closer faster, and for their bond to be stronger than friendships you could have in your hometown for over ten years.
In the desert, a camel ride away from Bikaner, and we sang ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ around a fire to a group of Indian men. I felt like I had known the girl sitting next to me for years, not just two-and-a-bit days. We laughed, clapped, made fun of Papa getting drunk off rum, almost burned our shoes, and possibly came down with hypothermia. Special mention to the toilet that night.
In Jaisalmer we drank too much orange gin and coke and danced to S-Club and Fergie on a rooftop, watching a ‘cooking fire’, and laughing hysterically at the suggestive dancing from men twice our age.
In Udaipur we cooked with retirees and exchanged travel stories. We wandered around, looking for a caramel slice in the middle of India to cure our craving. We found one.
In Jaipur we played Scrabble and ate mandarins and were involved in situations much bigger than the two of us. We also became the resident social media experts.
One night in Pushkar as we were walking back to our hotel, we talked about culture, third world countries, social media, and westernisation. Sarah made me question everything I had ever thought of and believed in.
We laughed and we ate moong dal, papaya, naan, and a dodgy dosa in a dodgy restaurant and fell ill, but we laughed more and found a rooftop garden and accepted and enjoyed life - high above the craziness of Varanasi.
In Agra I looked over at you, standing in front of the Taj Mahal, and you were the picture of pure bliss. Completely at ease with the world.
You are always at ease with the world.
We’re back in our own cities now, but the distance between us doesn’t seem too far.
You’re you and I’m me, and we still learn more and more each day- about each other, and about the world. Each conversation we have could be shared on a bus ride that just got the back window smashed - us holding each other's hand for dear life - or maybe in the dead of night in Tordi, whispering stories before we fall asleep.
On the 4th of February I wrote-
‘Sarah has taught me to be kind, good, and to love wholeheartedly. Be optimistic and positive and patient and accepting. Continue to be honest with yourself, continue to learn and grow and change. Encourage others and yourself. See more. Do more. Ask more.’
On the 5th-
‘Her honesty and encouragement of deep conversations that are crucial, her open eyes, her stories, and radiant heart are enlightening. I am so, so blessed to have met her. To find rest and truth in her. To have such a good friend in her.’
On the 6th-
‘Boring tour guides, mismatching sheets in too-cold hotel rooms, sore feet and tired minds, eyes exhausted from new sights, a best friend asleep next to me. I’m not complaining - I can’t find a single thing to be ungrateful for.’
Circumstances had me expecting the worst, yet one person changed me more than two countries that are known for people ‘finding themselves’ in did. I walk with a little less hip sway and if you hand me a fork, I’ll be sure to work on my fine motor skills. This doesn’t seem like much, but it’s physical proof that I have changed.
Sarah, who let me keep bunking with her, who studies hard, and is far too organised than anyone should be, who offers the most grounding, and honest advice, and continues to give this huge, wonderful love. She also continues to know my soul better than anyone else does.
Alarms set for far too early, new cities, train rides, love stories, history lessons in forts, vodka shots, banana and bread for breakfast, video diaries, religions, exploring, and possibly drunk tuk tuk drivers. There are miles between us, but that’s the only distance- our minds are never too far apart.
Every door will remind me of you - and thank you for opening a hundred more for me.