Wednesday, 31 July 2013

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling... Twenty...

"I'm not turning twenty. It's actually the eighteenth anniversary of my second birthday!"
I'm excitedly babbling away to my family about how gosh-darned determined I am to push my teenage years just that one step further; I don't want to turn twenty, can I please be twenteen instead?

This year marks the beginning of a new era in my life - my twenties, and also the age when I start wanting to stop... Aging. I'd be happy to stay nineteen forever. Actually, twenty-one is my limit, because at least that way I'll feel old but a few tequila slammers and plastic yard glasses in Vegas will make me forget that fact PDQ.
Alas, it appears, no matter how much wishing or bargaining or shameless pleading one does, the whole 'getting older' thing is inevitable. And after a year of a countdown to the day so horrifying it is often likened to that of Doomsday, a day that has always been a highlight and in fact a dear friend to me up until this moment in time, my birthday, the time is finally upon us. Tomorrow, August 1st 2013, dear little Gracie hits the big 2-0.
What's really interesting, though, is as much as I've been dreading this day, now it's come around (or will do in approximately 22.5 hours) I'm very calm. Zen in my oldness. Accepting of my age, and of the expected maturity that comes with it (well, kind of; I can still run around the house in my Supergirl pyjamas making whhoooOOOSSSsssshhhhHHH noises from time to time, right?). I'm ready for my twenties. Or at least, twenty singular.

A lot of friends have turned twenty before me, and so far the reports have all been something along the lines of "it's really not that bad", "it doesn't feel much different tbh", "dude, my twenty-first is gonna be CRAY"...
As one of the youngest in my year, an August baby no less, my birthday always seems to take the longest to come around. Even now, when academic years don't really matter, it still seems further away than Christmas from New Year's. Everyone turned sixteen and could legally *drive a tractor* before me; everyone was driving their mum's car before I could even start learning; I was always hearing scandalous Messy Monday gossip on Tuesday morning when hardly anyone turned up for 9am Sociology because they were all eighteen and had more important things to do with their time (such as: be hungover every day). Turning nineteen was like some giant weight being lifted. It was like the universe telling me "there, honey. Now you're alright." It was suddenly cool and enviable to be the youngest one in a group; now everyone was bitching about their upcoming birthdays, and expressing their insane jealousy at my youth - which, to be fair, was only a few months younger than them, but hey, I enjoyed it. I basked in the happy glowing feeling of being in no hurry to get any older. Finally. The playing field was equal.
Or was it? Because it seemed that suddenly everyone was in their twenties, and I was still a dumb irresponsible teenager who didn't know anything about life. I figured twenty was the age when you started to actually look down on those younger than you; when you lost your patience and tolerance and began referring to everyone who was young as "like, twelve"; when you had no time to explain anything to "kids". Maybe age will always matter. Maybe the playing field will never be equal. Maybe at 6:01pm tomorrow, I'll be hit with the Harsh Reality Stick/Mean Adult Branch, and I'll be just like every other adult. Who's to say?
Obviously I'll endeavour to remain the same idiot teenager forever. Just this week I dyed my hair lilac, and got really drunk, and today I'm getting a couple new piercings, as a final stupid act of teenagery. Well, making up the word 'teenagery' may actually be a stupid act in itself, but...

It's silly to get caught up in a battle with age. Because we'll lose. It's inevitable, it's unavoidable, and it's ever so slightly wonderful. We have no idea what the future will hold. At twenty, I'll be completing my final year of university. I'll be deciding what to do with myself when I leave this city, if I leave it at all. I'll be choosing a career - that is, a next step in the career that I chose when I was six. Exciting times lie ahead. Do your worst, twenty.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Lilac support.

Putting my biscuits down on the counter, smiling up at Bald Fella then looking across at Winky McDarling Man; the latter winks, shoots me a 'hello darling!' and carries on counting his cash. Baldy gives me a once over, smiles to himself.
'That's an interesting colour,' says he.
I remember that as of yesterday, my hair is bright lilac. 'Why thank you!' all smiles, 'I got an impulse, so I kinda had to do it, y'know?'
'I got ya. Arts student, by any chance?'
'How did you know?!' wink.

Some years ago, I was sitting in the study happily Googling university courses while on the phone to one of my oldest friends. Dull brown hair in a high ponytail, block fringe as always, minimal makeup and jeans. Just jeans, always. The UCAS time was upon me and I was looking into my options - the panic and frustration hadn't settled in just yet. I hadn't even settled on a course. I knew I wanted to do something creative and combined, that was pretty much it.

'So I asked my parents about this course at UEA, y'know because Matt Smith went there...' my friend gabbles away in my ear, 'it's Drama, but combined with Creative Writing. How cool is that?! It's perfect for us! But... My dad says it's too wishy-washy, and that I should do English instead...'
I search UEA (because imagine going to the same university as Matt Smith!) and find that yes, this seems to be a real and legitimate course. How odd. I told myself I gave up my dreams of becoming a writer ages ago, when I decided to focus on something more realistic - you know, like acting.
Seeing that there was a course combining my two true loves, however, like actually seeing it there in the special UCAS font surrounded by the obnoxious red... It could be everything I ever wanted.

I dreaded asking my parents. I'm not sure why, maybe because my friend on the phone who had a mother who spent all her time baking and a father who actively believed in the existence of Sasquatch, wasn't allowed to do a super-creative and arguably less-than-reputable degree. My parents, for the most part, have both feet firmly on the ground, and want the best for me. My grandparents want a granddaughter with a career they can tell their friends about and not get embarrassed - like teaching, for example, and frankly I can think of nothing worse. I'd already accepted the fact that I'd probably end up doing a degree in English, followed by a Masters or some kind of teaching qualification, at a nice campus uni not too far from home.
So when my Dad was looking through the UCAS website and whatever higher education material was available to him (namely the stacks and stacks of prospectuses on the coffee table), and he called out 'hey Grace, I think I've found a good course for you!' just imagine my delighted shock when he shows me a page in a prospectus saying Drama & Creative Writing, BA (Hons). I'd worried for nothing; my parents knew this was what I wanted and they weren't about to stop me from going for it. I'm one of the lucky few students/teenagers/people with a supportive family; a lot of friends I've made on my course have siblings pursuing careers in Medicine and Law, and they've told me how inferior they are made to feel by their parents and family friends. The dreaded words 'I want to be a writer/actor/dancer/artist' are met with patronizing looks and harsh so-called 'realities', and as a result, some never follow their dreams. 

I'm sitting here, with my lilac hair that my mum loves and the nose stud that she recommended I get, writing a piece of work for my degree that my parents let me pick and love hearing about all the time, preparing for my sister's impending visit and looking at a 'You've Moved House!' card from my grandparents on the fridge. Just appreciating how fortunate and supported I am in all that I do.
I'm a very happy Arts student.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The inexplicable/inevitable; 'Take Care'.

February, approaching midnight. A typical club smoking terrace. A chill in the air, but the warmth of the dance floor spilling out into the night as we stand facing each other, both up against a brick wall, just mere fickle space between us.

'I really like you,' says he, for the fifth time within the minute. The alcohol is apparent both in his stature and in serious verbal liberalism. His eyes are getting closer, then further away, as he sways back and forth ever so slightly.

'But, how do you like me?' Says a clever heroine. 'I've had plenty of others like me for one night, for a string of days, for a few weeks tops... What time period are you referring to?' Surprisingly coherent and cynical, despite ingesting more than half a bottle of Jack Daniels. She's skeptical and serious, because after such a consistent series of disappointments and heartbreaks, why wouldn't she be? 'I don't want to waste my time. Not any more. C'mon, tell me. '

He pushes away from the wall, bracing himself against the brick just above her head, staring unblinkingly but drunkenly into her eyes; brown challenging blue.

Flailing slightly, feeling her resolve melt away, she demands one last reassurance; 'but, I'm at uni...'
He replies, immediately: 'we can work around that.' Did he rehearse this, or is he just naturally word-perfect and mood-sensitive? She's trying not to think how many he's reassured before. She wants to believe.


April, the small hours. A kitchen, his, the kettle's boiling and the anticipation is intolerable. She regrets the early kiss, knowing she gave it up too early, and now she can't go back and ask questions. Silly girl. When will you learn?
Leaning against the counter, remembering the first kiss, right here. He's smiling again just inches away from her face; the face right now, a picture of conflict. She has so much to say; she needs to 'use those words', to 'do all that talking they haven't been doing' (quote: two great friends). He seems to be waiting for it, even. Why is this so hard?
Because she's scared she won't get the answer she wants. She doesn't want this wonderful feeling to go away. She wants to stay in this happy little fantasy forever - or as he once said 'years'.
'I need to know that I'm not wasting my time.' She finally says it; feeling the earth slip out beneath her feet as the words hang in the air. He looks confused, bemused, amused, which is it? 
Amused. 'You're not wasting your time.' And, relax. 'If you thought I was seeing someone else, kissing someone else, or sleeping with someone else - you don't realise how much I like you... And also, how damn busy I am!' The smile is back. The hated, beautifully reassuring smile. Is that smile trustworthy?


July, bedtime. The messages, the talks, the mentions, all gone. Inexplicable, inevitable. Hurtful. Our foolish hopeful heroine is waiting to hear it, those words she didn't want to hear but at the same time can't not. If only he were the one saying them; instead, she finds out from a friend, because for some unknown reason he can't take a moment for her any more. Apparently it's due to... Excuses. It seems a conversation has been had between the two would-be's, but only one of them had it and knew the outcome. Guess who.

'Don't worry,' says the kind friend. 'He had me fooled, too.'

Now she's skipping the songs, ignoring the signs, avoiding the places, and refusing the drinks. She's set a new alarm, she's walking a different way, and she's partial to Grant's for now. Scowling at every smug cappuccino, driving through town to avoid the beautiful judgmental sea, sick of the smell of cigarettes and wishing she'd never broken that first resolution.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

My (as yet untitled) ECP; (I).

I'm doing an ECP (Extended Creative Project) in Creative Writing, in my final year of university. It's going to be a collection of personal memoirs, musings, observations and stories I've collected from others, all on the subject of body confidence, or lack thereof. I'm hoping to write it in the style of a series of blog posts/magazine feature pieces; there will be accompanying photos (thanks to my wonderful confident friends) and hopefully, maybe, some of it will change people's minds. That's all I could ask for.
Feedback would be wicked awesome, y'all.
Here's a draft of one section...

Physical education.
Unbutton blouse, pull polo shirt over head, slip button-up off the shoulders, pull polo down; nobody will see. Deep breath, and go. Done. Then, tights down under skirt, have shorts ready by feet, bend carefully, slip shorts over ankles and jump, very subtly now... Check shorts are around waist firmly. Unzip skirt, pull down comfortably, all the while making sure shorts are secure. Sit down gently on cold metal bench, keep quiet because one loud metallic CLANG and you’re anybody’s; all eyes will be on you, and that’s the last thing we want, right? Pull on socks, lace up trainers, five double-checks that the shapeless flesh-coloured bra isn’t peeking through the super-thick white cotton, and you’re good to go. Walk out the door with your head down, likewise through the corridor and out onto the field. Self-consciously pat your head, flatten your hair, you knew an obnoxious high ponytail was far too outrageous, you silly girl. Cross your arms across your chest as you run down the field, we wouldn't want any unnecessary jiggling to draw attention. The stretch marks on your legs can’t be helped any more than the pimples on your face, but hey, you’re only fourteen, it’s normal right? Although, if it’s so normal, why don’t any of the other girls seem to have these problems?

Marissa is a picture of grace, pale and sleek, effortlessly sprinting to the groundskeeper’s shed, drawing all the male gaze as she goes. Her hair shimmers like dark ocean waves at midnight, falling down her back and then being picked up by the breeze. She has a tiny waist and perfectly round breasts; you can see through her shirt. She has a little lingering fat on her upper thighs, the same lumpy bumps that I have, so that's okay I suppose. Nobody would ever notice it, though. She'd never get pushed and poked in the changing room.

Eleanor’s PE polo shirt is faded and tinged blue from being washed poorly. I wonder if she’s noticed. ‘It's a clear indicator of her home life’, says the TA under her breath to the other teachers. Her shorts are too short; her rugby player-legs are on full display. She's proud, and it’s kind of awesome. In the changing rooms, she whipped off her blouse and was showing everyone who’d turn and look this little blue-purple mark on her belly, right above the button; ‘It's a love bite,’ she announces proudly, ‘from my boyfriend – you won’t know him, he goes to the boys' grammar school...’ She’s also wearing a bright white bra with little red strawberries all over it. She’s had an impressive chest since Year Five. Good on her, I guess. She's not ashamed, ever.

Hallie has terrible ugly stretch marks all down the backs of her legs, like someone painted directly onto her skin with a twig and some purple paint. She has freckles that connect in the sun and leave her with big brown blotches on her cheeks and across the bridge of her nose. She gets heartburn, anxiety and panic attacks when doing Track. She likes the shot-put, though. Her arms are thick and strong. She hates it. If only she knew how many of us hate our weedy frames and our skinny wrists.

This is all true, it all happened to me, way back when. The people are also real, however I thought it best to change their names - so all 'characters' are named after the TV/film/book characters I thought they best resembled. It's a work in progress, and it's really fun (and at times, impossible) to write.

A good book (I): Hello Rainbow.

I have a Waterstones addiction. Whenever I have a spare ten/fifteen minutes, I'll dive straight into the nearest shop, and browse for what seems like days looking for treasure in the Aladdin's cave. I'll often abuse the 'buy one get one half price' offer, hunt down the random £4 off beauties, fill up my 'I love books' stamp card, and pick up books by authors I've never heard of, but whose covers and plots call out to me.

This is how I came to discover Rainbow Rowell. I'm currently reading 'Eleanor & Park', and I have 'Attachments' ready and waiting on my worryingly unstable bookshelf in my bedroom. I'm so moved by a good book, more than I'd care to admit, and just yesterday I had to stop myself just sitting and crying on a busy train.
Because I'd read this line.

Because just a couple of months ago, someone told me they missed me. Because when they did, this was exactly what went through my mind. Because this is what a good book should do to you. 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Nostalgia's not what it used to be/Then and Now.

Nostalgia is my guilty pleasure; it's what I wrap myself in when the world seems mean, something I escape to in times of trouble, an alternate reality of what has once been. I love looking at people, be it peers in lectures, colleagues at work, friends in my house, and thinking about how I came to know them; how we first met, how long it was that we crossed paths before that first interaction, how different things were then, and how strange to think it hasn't always been like now.


I once despised this one girl in my Drama class at uni. She drove me mad; she seemed perfectly sweet, perfect student, knew more about the world than I did, and the boy I liked took quite a shine to her, as did a few other friends of mine. I could do the most accurate impression of her, the distinctive accent and the mannerisms. I once wrote "WHORE" on her back in marker pen*.
And now? She's my housemate, and best friend. We've shared all sorts of stories and secrets with one another, she knows my best qualities and my worst, my happiest moments and my weaknesses (which are mostly ill-advised arseholes, and unhealthy eating). She takes me to one side and has words when she can see I'm not doing myself any favours. Her advice, from clothing to love to zombie face paint, is always appreciated more than she'll know. I now adore her so much, that if I could go back in time and stop myself drunkenly writing nasty words on her bare skin, I would (sorry, honey).

*this wasn't just randomly one day when I was sat behind her in a lecture; a group of us were scribbling on her in preparation for a crazy rave party at the SU. 

I crossed paths with my ex most days at school, long before we got together. I was told to "look after" a new girl in my tutor group, who became my closest friend (my tutor was patting herself on the back for years). I couldn't stand my know-it-all Head Girl, then upon starting college I realised what a down-to-earth, sweet and well-meaning person she was; if a little obsessed with Disney and being a princess. I fell instantly in love with a boy at college, we dated, we fell out, he dated other girls, we argued, we stopped speaking, and now we're living an hour away from each other but are still inseparable. The girl I made friends with recently when working on a play turned right around and stabbed me in the back. Since leaving school, I've hooked up with the most popular boy in our year. I've had encounters with the most popular girls, too, at clubs in town - and had them all come up to me in turn and say, astonished: "your hair looks lovely! Have you lost weight?!" or something to that effect. Two girls who once bullied me told me they read my blog.

See what I mean? I just love this stuff. One of my recent posts consisted of a series of photos from my past, and the stories behind them. I spent ages writing it, rediscovering things and loving the friendly familiar feelings that came over me. I was laughing, amazed, at the photos of that night out in Fresher Year; in such disbelief that once I didn't know, or didn't like, the people I consider best friends now. Seeing photos from primary school and thinking of how many classmates I still know now; how many I see on a daily basis, or when I pop home for a weekend, and whether or not we say "hi" to each other in the street.
Photos are underrated as a medium, I think. They are literally moments and memories captured forever. Now, before I get all wistful and wishy-washy, I did have another thing to add.
Looking through photos is one thing, but showing them to someone else is just as wonderful, if not more so. Pointing at the faces and saying "she's at Lincoln now, studying Drama," or "he moved to New Zealand, keeps in touch though", "that was the best night ever"... It allows you to feel the nicest part of nostalgia, sharing it with someone else.

"Can you spot me? I bet you can't. Hint: I'm naturally blonde. You'll never guess... Oh, that guy in the back, he got really hot in high school. And the girl two along from me, she bullied me through Years Five and Six. I fell madly in love with him - guess what he ended up doing with his life? Okay, guess which one here has full sleeves of tattoos now? She's at Birmingham Uni, I'm so jealous, it's amazing there... He danced with me at the Year Four disco, in between his dirty deals selling Freddos and Kit Kats to other kids. I have no idea what happened to her..."

Saturday, 6 July 2013


556 posts about my life; the losses, the gains, the loves, the best days and the worst. Five hundred and fifty six jumbled mixtures of feelings, all somehow put into words and crammed into posts.
100,000 views. One hundred thousand times when a person clicked the link, refreshed the page, and read some of my life. 100,000. My new favourite number. 100,000. The hugs I wish I could give. 100,000. The amount of thank you's I owe.

Monday, 1 July 2013

When Did I Get So Old?: Gracie's second year of university.

This time last year, I was packing up my life into boxes and saying farewell to Hampshire; Sussex-bound for the summer, looking forward to four months of friends, family and freedom. This year, however, I'm staying. I've moved out of my (hideous, falling-apart, lovely, filthy) student house, and as of 16th June I am in my gorgeous new pad for the summer, and come September I'll be starting yet another new chapter in my life: the Final Year of Uni.

To say this year has gone quickly would be like saying "Hey, Monica likes things clean"; "Elphaba was misunderstood"; "students enjoy the occasional drink"; "the sky is kinda blue". If possible, my second year has gone even quicker than my first. I do miss being a Fresher, every second year student does, but I feel like this year is when I came into my own and really discovered who I was.

I joined Fly Hard. Despite desperately wanting to join my university Ultimate team for pretty much the entirety of my first year, I put it off and told myself I shouldn't, all because of one person. That was dumb, to say the least. Not only did said person leave the team, but they also were not, shall we say, especially popular with the team members in the first place. So after wasting that year hoping and stopping myself, I finally went along to a casual throwaround, then a training session, then another training session, and the rest is awesomeness. I got to know the coolest people, and I got to play the coolest sport. Next year I'm living with three fellow Frisbee enthusiasts (the Womens' Captain, Vice Womens' Captain, and Chairman, no less) so I'm only going to get better. I attended the Fly Hard Awards (or Fly Hardies 2013), and I am thrilled that I somehow won this year's coveted 'Hottest Player' award, but next year I would kind of like to get an award with more substance - like 'Most Improved Female', or 'Most Enthusiastic Player', maybe. That's one of my many goals for the next year.
Fly Hard has been there for me always. I've always had that outlet, that therapeutic bi-weekly thing that made all the worst days bearable. It's helped immensely with my confidence issues (in myself and in my body), and taught me much more than how to throw a good hammer. I don't think I realised that it means just as much to all of us, until I saw the Captain (and the other third years) crying while giving speeches at the awards ceremony. The other night, one of our teammates posted in the Facebook group that he was having 'personal trouble' and needed friends/to get drunk; what few were left of us, those currently staying in Winch, all rallied together and stayed up with him until 3am playing Arrogance and downing drinks. That's the kind of people the Fly Hardians are.

One other thing has become a big part of my life this year: coffee. I've never appreciated the true wonders a single steaming cup can do, until I started having Tuesday & Thursday 9am lectures this year. Coffee is a powerful substance made of deliciousness, strength, hope and love. I'd make a point of taking a sip before answering a question in a seminar, of going to grab one to go with my classmates while on a break or downing a large latte before an important presentation; it's comforting. It's also a social thing. I've had numerous cups of coffee with those closest to me this year. Many happy hours have been spent in Starbucks (despite my mother's outrage at this; our family are Nero all the way) gossiping and philosophizing over a mocha or two. My friends and I have also started a fabulous new tradition of ordering in Starbucks under aliases of John Green characters - I am Alaska, Clare is Hazel Grace, Rikki is Augustus, Vee is Margo. All the credit for this ingenious idea goes to Clare, aka Hazel Grace, who is not only a visionary writer with serious Nerdfighter tendencies and a love of coffee, but also someone I will be missing like crazy all summer (because she's off being amazing at camp in America, or something. Not jealous at all. Shut up).
I've developed a relationship with the lovely fellas who work at the SU Terrace Bar; now whenever they see me coming they smile knowingly and say "Hey Gracie, skinny vanilla?" My coursemates, the too-cool Drama boys with their big ideas, the in-crowd Creative Writers who are enviably 'clicky', the glamourous Drama girls who I was always certain were too cool to hang out with me - are now really good friends of mine, partly due to our coffee dates together between lectures. See? Coffee is good for your social life.

I have read some amazing things this year. Yes, books such as 'How To Be A Woman' (Caitlin Moran is my spirit animal), every possible Gothic novel ever (in what began as a studious obligation, but soon became a full-on obsession), Angela Carter ("oh, this kinky bitch again!" I sighed as I snuggled down with her collection of Fairy Tales before bedtime), 'The Time Traveller's Wife' (and other such love stories perfect for holiday reading and designed to break your heart), and let's not forget 'The Fault In Our Stars', 'Paper Towns', 'Looking For Alaska', 'Will Grayson, Will Grayson', 'An Abundance of Katherines' (John Green, why do you delight in making me cry?), books that have changed my outlook on the world - and actually, come to think of it, my life.

However, I have also had the honour and privilege of reading some serious up-and-coming literature from the minds of those around me. Doing a joint Honours with Creative Writing, I get to hang out with the future critically acclaimed authors of the world, and be among the first to read the first pieces of their legacy. I was blushing in the Learning Cafe reading Clare's erotic Textual Intervention piece, I wow'd my way through Jack's insightful reviews, I frantically scrolled through the Creative Writers' Facebook page for more. Only this year did I have the courage to post a file on there for criticism and notes; my TI2 Creative Piece, which I worked insanely hard on and, thank goodness, got that beautiful First that I craved so badly...
I've also had the chance to get to know other bloggers/tweeters who find comfort in writing and at the same time feel the most immense passion for the pastime, so much so that someday they hope to be paid to do it - in other words, more people like me. People like Eleanor, the best friend I've never met, who writes beautifully and is a twin spirit to me. Most of my friends blog - my two perfectly heart-on-sleeve housemates Vee and Abby, the lovely Helen who will always be one of my favourite people and biggest inspirations, and darling Vick, who's pursuing her dreams and taking over London town. This year has been a big year for my blogging world, to say the least.

I've met Frank Warren, the man who started one of the biggest and most life-changing phenomenons for not just an eleven year-old me but millions of others just like me and not like me at all - PostSecret. My flustered exchanges with John & Hank Green will go down in history as one of the most embarrassing and utterly predictably fangirl-esque moments ever - all I could manage was "John! John...! I want to write stuff!" and "Hi Hank, wow this is surreal... Hi." Not one but two very special, if brief, half-hugs and handshakes with Joshua Radin have potentially made everything in my life okay again. Tweets from Carrie Hope Fletcher made me squeal like a little girl meeting Cinderella at Disneyland.
Of course, meeting some of my idols, inspirations and in some cases long-term crushes (Joshua, say no more) has been magnificent and magical, but this year I've also met some equally if not more important people whose existence makes every day that little bit better; people who push me when need be, build me up, catch me when I fall and gather up the pieces when I just can't find a way. Going into third year, I am finally totally and completely happy with my living situation - 'situation' here meaning 'a beautiful room and the best housemates'. VIP posts will soon be reinstated on my little blog, and these three will be getting essays. Plus, friends from last year staying with me despite how many times I've given them reason not to, and those I've gotten to know even better over the past ten months or so. The phrase "I wish we'd hung out more in the first year!" is thrown around far too much, often between shots or during drunken trips to the toilet together, but it's true. Every coffee date in Starbucks, every downing of a drink, every face-painting session, every afternoon spent T'ing D... These are the things I'll remember, always. 

There were more tears this year, more personal dramas, more conflicts and more horrible sinking-feeling moments. There were also more unforgettable nights, more laughs, more successes, more spirit, and more friends. The rain came down hard, iced over on the pavement, I slipped and fell, someone helped me up, and the sun came out. The arguments made me realise what's important, and what's worth fighting for. The crying made me see who I cared about, and who cares about me - enough to sit with me on the side of the road and stroke my shoulder until I smile again. And, you know what? None of it mattered in the end. There was more than enough good to outweigh the bad. Now, with my 2:1 for the second and best year so far at uni, I'm looking ahead to my final chapter here in this beautiful city with these incredible people, and I know it can only get better.

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