Photo by Analoge Welt.
It was a strange era: one that cannot be easily conveyed to an outside soul. As a group, we were in the springtime of our lives; we were starting degrees, embracing a new mindset, and indulging in love affairs. The fierce loyalty we had for each other was only rivalled by our affections. There were about 20 of us: the outer members often fluctuated and filtered; however the solid core was something to be reckoned with. Within our ranks there were relationships, seemingly solid as stone, as well as exes, best friends, old flames, and new lovers. However, one thing remained above all: our unabiding and unconditional love for each and every other.
Maybe you can relate, or maybe you can’t. I hope you can. It is a rare and magnificent experience to discover others whose meaning for existence so closely parallels your own. These people share your desires, beliefs and devotion, yet are so wildly diverse that they constantly feed your soul an intensely beneficial feast.
It was in 2009, and we lived in a damp and dimly lit basement in North London.
Every Halloween we’d throw a party in our own honour. We often did this. We’d stay in the confined space of each other for days on end, drinking and smoking and lying in a jigsaw of human body parts. Relationships were broken, family ties were severed, and all commitments forgotten. University deadlines and working hours weren’t a priority. Jobs were lost, and we laughed about it, justifying our excuse for overindulgence. Nobody wanted to ever leave the club.
No request was too large, no generosity too much. Everything I am can be everything yours. This unconventional kindness only thrived because it was a steadfast trait in everyone. Often, there’d be a few of us with no money, no booze, no cigarettes, no lover, no job. We’d carry their burdens like they were our own. They were. We took photos at every opportunity, and paraded them around loudly for the public to see. We brought our vintage cameras to those sticky, damp, underground clubs. We wanted to remember this outrageously beautiful era of our lives.
It was never superficial, either. Very real and dynamic discussions were held, and we all knew each other’s inner workings like they were our own. There were no secrets, no whispers. Partnerships were forged, brands founded, alliances and business agreements constituted. Each member had an unusual spark; everyone seemed destined for success. There were painters, designers, musicians, economists, lawyers, psychologists, photographers, writers, historians, and philosophers. We all wanted to move in together; we’d never leave, we didn’t need anyone else.
We must have known it would never last forever. Such a poignant, pivotal phase relies on circumstance; it was such a transitional thing. People started graduating, breaking up, moving away. For me, my visa was ending. It was time to end that blissful limbo between high school and university, and begin my tertiary study. The group was fraying, and as growing adults we had to consider other commitments. This evoked a shattering communal heartbreak. Nevertheless, we couldn’t continue living the way we did, partying and loving and leaving the rest of the world behind. It was, unfortunately, unsustainable.
Every now and then, we all collide from our corners of the globe, and the nostalgic ache shakes us violently. We reminisce and recreate, but we know we’ll always have this transcendent connection with each other. Some people are just made for others.
Written by Grace Bullen.