With two days left of 2018, I booked a flight to Spain. My Shoe Brother had made a vague offer of lodging and that was enough for me. I have mixed feelings about the changing of the year but I have good feelings about travel. I know what you are wondering. What is a Shoe Brother? Over half a lifetime ago, I was in a Physical Education lesson being bullied. It doesn’t take an awful stretch to look at me as an adult and understand why I would have been bullied as a child. I was skinny, bookish and at odds with the DJ Luck & MC Neat-loving morons who made up much of the alumni of my school. In one particular act of bullying, a gang of them tore off one of my non-branded trainers and hurled it onto the top of the cricket netting in the sports hall. They also took another kid's shoe and did the same. Then, suffering a crisis of bullish confidence, they grabbed a pole and attempted to retrieve the shoes they had just stole. The pair of us both stood on one leg, a socked foot raised in the air in tribute to those vile idiots who probably look back on that day as a high point of their lives. The other kid looked at me. “What’s up, Shoe Brother” he said. Therein began a friendship which I absolutely cherish to this day. Luke is currently out in Spain, living “off-grid”, completely unaware of the nonsense in your social media feeds and unwise to your petty concerns. The way he sold it to me sounded incredible so I booked a flight out so I could spend the first part of the year, and indeed his birthday, in his holy presence. Luke picked me up from the airport and we ventured down to the coast. We spent time outside, a lot of time outside. We hiked up mountains and out to abandoned lighthouses. We ate as vegan as we could for a country built on its love of carne. We laughed a lot and we had some drinks and he made me dance on a cliff face while he drummed a beat on a steel pan. We washed up paella-stained saucepans in the sea. We practiced meditation on the beach. We got really, really cold from failing to dress appropriately for the plummeting evening weather. Most of all though, I just really appreciated him. We are at an age when it becomes, or we make it become, increasingly more difficult to spend time with the people you have the longest and deepest connections with. It’s strange to think of the boys we were and the men we have subsequently become. He is a good, good person and that’s something to be treasured. I hope 2019 treats me as well as the first five days did. I hope I can laugh and eat and be outdoors in the sun. I hope I get to connect and feel understood. I hope I can read in my spare time and talk in my taken time. I want for so much and it was granted to me so recently.
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