Just over a decade ago, two very unlikely friends made a pact with each other – a pact to randomly make each other smile, for the rest of time.
I know what you’re thinking (presumptuously, but stay with me…); “People always promise to write/stay in touch and it lasts about six months and then fades away”. That happens a lot, I understand; people move on, life gets busy, etc. But I got lucky. At the somewhat confusing and easily-distracted age of sixteen, I found a friend (male, none-the-less) who would continue to make me smile, randomly, for the rest of his (ridiculously short) life.
I would like to share our story.
It all started on MySpace; the ‘Facebook of the mid-noughties’. Remember those amazing html templates and profile-songs?! I miss MySpace. How did it lose the social media battle to Facebook? I imagine it was the whole ‘being forced to use your real name’ thing on Facebook and being granted the ability to upload photos of complete strangers for others to tag. Damn you, Zuckerberg! Making us all so bloody findable.
Anyway, back when MySpace was all the rage, I remember talking for days and days with this curly-haired, complete stranger. On paper we had very little in common: he was a hardcore vegetarian drummer boy, I was a bacon-devouring chick-flick addict, he loved to travel and I hated leaving home. Yet, we’d talk until MySpace cut us off with character-limits. (Then we’d post the last four [crucial] lines in a whole new comment.)
He lived about seven or eight hours away (via public transport) and so with weekend jobs, college schedules and summer holidays abroad, we didn’t get to hang out much. Train tickets would cost us a month’s worth of weekend shifts, plus he was always venturing off to Europe, Africa or Costa Rica (apologies if any of those are the same place, my geography knowledge is spectacularly shit). Despite our hectic schedules, the internet smiles kept on coming, regardless of distance or the 56kb/s internet. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive MySpace for erasing our ‘walls’ or whatever they were called, because there would be some conversational gold right there. Luckily, some of our Facebook conversations are still there to remind me just how much we kept each other entertained throughout the years.
We regularly shared songs, film-recommendations, drunken-anecdotes, his travel stories and any of my random ideas for my next advertising campaign, plus we’d always send physical postcards or memorabilia from anywhere we went. Most of our wall-posts consist of “Sorry for the late post, it’s on its way!” messages, but I loved finding this story, where he sums up our friendship pretty well:
We’ve sent each other so much stuff over the years, at one point we had a bit of a crazy-hat competition going, we’ve sent each other random food packages, bubble-wrap onesies, books, posters, DVD box-sets, t-shirts. He sent me some random antlers he found, coffee from a FRICKIN’ VOLCANO and one of those coffee-lens mugs before they were available in the UK.
Even just looking at the envelopes he sent me, makes me smile. I always knew it was from him, the second something came through the door.
I know these look like they were written by a child, but one of them was sent in May of this year lol.
We met for the first time in 2009, where he caught A MILLION (at least four) trains to see my mum’s (famous) house and then again when I was doing my Master’s degree. That second meeting was in Manchester, the day before he left the UK for a lengthy wildlife conservation trip and we explored a local museum, bought dinosaur hand-tattoos and had a pizza-eating contest. I kicked his ass, if I remember rightly, to the surprise of most of the restaurant.
Even when he first told me about his cancer (something he ridiculously apologised for) he never stopped making jokes, exploring new places and sending gifts in response to my poor attempts at entertaining him during the long hospital appointments. He had such a positive outlook on life, he wanted to make a difference and spend all of his time helping others. When I asked him to choose a charity, so that I could make a personal donation in his name, he struggled to choose just one because he wanted to help them all.
Everyone who has ever met him says the same thing “he was the most genuine, life-loving and kindest guy” they’d ever met. My heart goes out to every single person who had Andy in their lives, especially his family and girlfriend, because the loss has been devastating. I feel incredibly lucky just to have known him.
Rest in peace, Fazzaface. I’ll think of you always.