On the last day of term, which so happened to be my blogging anniversary I went into London with my friend Swan to meet the amazing Gracie. It was a trip we’d been planning for weeks, spawned from a comment I’d left on a post she wrote asking if I could come and watch her in her Spoken Word performance. It started as a little idea and then flourished into one of the best days of my life.
After school, Swan and I went back to my house and after eating a little, prepared to go out. We were travelling to South London, not entirely sure of the route we were taking but the laughter that ensued from that was some of the most full laughter I’ve had in a while. It was raining but the journey in wasn’t bad: I was internally screeching with excitement, texting Gracie with far too many exclamation marks (as I always do).
We met outside the station, me accidentally waving in the wrong direction and then making some comment about how much of a mess I was. It took a while to sink in that I was actually there and on the short walk to the theatre, I couldn’t stop smiling, although I had my hood up from the rain so that I didn’t look odd with a massive grin on my face. It had taken some organisation to do this and now that I was finally there, it felt surreal.
Over hot chocolate, Swan, Gracie and I talked about everything. Conversations ranged from what our lives were like to me endlessly fangirling over bloggers – I spent a while exclaiming over how lovely and supportive Bri is. A big subject was identity and how interesting it can be to how a blogging name vs. your actual name. We talked for an hour and a half before Gracie had to go for rehearsal, by which time the café we were in had nearly emptied.
After Gracie went to practice, her family offered to take Swan and I out for dinner which was so thoughtful of them. We went to a Vegetarian and Vegan Indian restaurant, perfect for Swan (as she’s Vegetarian with plans to go Vegan in the summer). Gracie’s mum, dad, younger brother and sister are some of the nicest people I’ve met – conversations were easy, friendly and made me feel so included. They’re so supportive of Gracie’s blog which I thought was amazing, as it took a long time before I even told my mum about this blog. As became even more pronounced later, I neither felt especially Elm-like or my real name-like (which I nearly just wrote THAT WAS TERRIFYING): I didn’t feel like I needed an identity just then because I was just present there; it didn’t matter what name I went by.
When we’d finished eating, we walked back to the theatre to collect our tickets. We went into the room where the performances were held after meeting Gracie’s aunt and uncle; there were so many other people there despite it being a relatively small room. By that point, I couldn’t wait to hear Gracie: I love her poetry and so hearing it being performed was going to be a real honour. As I’d also not heard much urban music before, I was seriously looking forward to the other performances too.
The atmosphere was electric, made more so by the enclosed and familiar space. With the lights dimmed and us sitting right at the front, I felt anticipation building up inside me. This was all totally knew: the setting, the people there, the feeling of utter freedom. I had my fingertips on the table in front of me, which was what grounded me.
I love new experiences. That was why the music, a mixture of rap, reggae and acapella, affected me so much. I have a weirdly strong reaction to lyrics or particularly powerful beats and when I was surrounded by it, I could feel my breath in my lungs and my heart beating. Perhaps it’s because I’m a dreamer at heart but I felt like I was floating, then suddenly getting jolted back to earth. Gracie was the second performer and so I’d already had this reaction and, as I started to feel more and more happy and comfortable, the emotions of the whole thing were on a constant loop inside my head.
Gracie’s performance was, in a word, magical. Of the two poems she performed, “Beauty” spoke to me most: her voice rose and fell like she breathed and owned the words, coming forth straight from her heart. I absorbed those words, feeling hit with some kind of overwhelming emotion. The swell of pride I felt in the breaks between lines and in the thundering applause I gave after was immense. It felt amazing to be sitting there, witnessing the passion she has for words in real life, and being able to talk about it.
Leaving was the hardest part. I gave Gracie and her mum a massive hug and as Swan and I walked out of the theatre, I felt like I was about to cry. On the way home, when we ran for the train, I couldn’t stop a pervading sense of euphoria from making its way to my brain. It felt carefree, like I’d done something for myself which I truly, purely enjoyed.
This was the perfect end to my term, the perfect celebration of friendship and the best way to step out of my comfort zone whilst feeling the most myself I’ve felt in months. Having Swan beside me made it even better because I couldn’t think of a better person to go on this little adventure with. I’m so thankful that it all turned out so well in the end – from the minute the little flower of thought blossomed in my mind to it becoming a reality, I knew that this was something I wanted to do. For Gracie, for me but most of all, to have all the parts of my life that I love the most collide. It was fantastic and I can’t wait to meet up with Gracie and her lovely family again.
Thank you for such an amazing evening and for letting me smile so much. I miss you loads, you are awesome and I’m still buzzing!
Love from Elm 🙂