Maybe I should call this blog “Knockout” instead because of the recurring motif where I keep getting knocked out before I get to type… Why set up a rule I can’t follow, right? Wouldn’t it be easier if I just made this a weekly thing? Of course, there’s also the option of simply editing the time these were posted.
But that would be cheating. I didn’t start this blog because it was easy. I knew it would be difficult to keep up sooner or later, so I can only pray that I keep coming back to it, regardless of what life throws in my way to wreck my schedule. Considering my history with blogs, I can say this has been going pretty well and a large part of that is credited to you, my readers. While I initially set out this project thinking no one would be interested, it does feel nice to know that somewhere out there (mostly from the States, based on the statistics), someone’s coming back to this. Thank you!
Now enough about me and my sleepless nights. Today’s post is dedicated to a really dear friend of mine, Areli. So here she is in today’s Photo of the Day:
She looks so mysterious in this picture. Channeling her inner Marion Cotillard, as I’d like to think. This was taken on the day she graduated and we were at a pub with her friends when I saw this spot that was drenched in sunlight. I fell in love with the colour of the drapes, the large windows, the plush leather booths (are those… kind of seats called booths?). What is she thinking? Who is she waiting for? What’s the story behind that smile? I’m going to get a great profile pic… She did use this as her profile picture on Facebook for a while, which is always a great compliment. I think it’s one of the few instances that reaffirms your ability to take decent photos when a friend uses your shot as their profile picture, considering how particular many are with theirs.
I first met Areli in my residence hall. She was the only female resident in our unit and her arrival there was an accident because apparently, all apartment units (separate en-suite rooms with a common kitchen) are separated by gender. It was a couple of weeks before the management realised she was “misplaced”, but the rest of our unit didn’t mind it anyway so we all signed a form to confirm that we were alright with the arrangement. She and I hit it off immediately and I really enjoyed her presence in our Asian-dominated unit (Areli is Mexican, I’m Malaysian, and we shared the unit with two Japanese guys and two Chinese guys).
Both of us were culture vultures, could spend endless days and nights enthusing about language, had similar complaints of the world, and best of all, we could stand travelling with each other. It’s incredibly difficult to find the perfect travel buddy. Best friends are not travel buddies by default, and I have had my fair share of difficulties with those, but Areli succeeded in being both, so I appreciated her company more than ever as a result. I admit I’m not the easiest person to travel with, mainly because I have a very clear idea of what I want to see and what I want to do. I become visibly frustrated if I’m unable to visit all the places I’ve listed the night before. Areli was a godsend because we both look for the same things when we travel. We’d always prioritise landmarks or scenic locations, as opposed to restaurants or shopping destinations, and we’d carefully plan our route to make the most out of our trips together. This next bit is such a horrible statement but when you have a Mexican and an Asian kid in the same room, you know they’re going to be friggin’ frugal when they travel. Neither of us would spend the extra quid on food and would force ourselves to wake up earlier simply to pack a cheap breakfast, lunch, and dinner but we’d pay £15 just to enter Westminster Abbey. Well… begrudgingly. We’d do it only because we could complain about it to each other on the bus ride home later.
I learnt so many things from Areli… She taught me how to make capirotada (Mexican bread pudding), enlightened me on Mexico’s history and culture, influenced me to share her fascination for photographing cemeteries… There’s this ephemeral serenity that envelops such places, and her appreciation towards them made cemeteries less creepy for me.
While she doesn’t see herself that way, I find Areli fearless. She’s unafraid to stand her ground and speak her mind when the need arises, though she is absolutely terrified of spiders. And cockroaches. Once, she knocked on my door in the middle of the night just because she killed a baby spider and couldn’t bring herself to dispose it. There was another funnier incident where she saw a spider scurrying about in her room, freaked out and came to me for help again, but when we went back, the spider disappeared. It took her ages before she was remotely convinced that the spider was no longer in her room, and she could put her feet down from the bed.
Over the span of a year, the two of us have exchanged so many stories during our regular “kitchen meetings” that when it was time for us to move out of the apartment, we wondered if we could ever get used to the absence of each other’s company. It felt like a break up of The Golden Girls. It’s been over a year since we last met in person, and she keeps reminding me to visit her in Mexico. “Don’t spend it on a new phone,” she’d say. “Save it for Mexico!” Of course I shall, for I can’t wait to have one of our kitchen meetings again.
It was our first trip to York, and we were both excited that it was incredibly foggy that day. As we were getting snap happy with our cameras, she spotted a tree she liked immensely and decided we both should be in it. It isn’t the best picture, but it’s one we both hold dear to our hearts, for it bears great meaning only to us, and we relish in this “secret” that’s shared between us. We were but two strangers in a foreign land who enjoyed each other’s company, and there were no two people who looked better on that bench than the both of us.