I hurriedly walked into the town of Leicester to meet up with my bestie Soraya. We had arranged to meet at the clock tower, just a 10-minute walk from where my narrowboat was moored at Castle Gardens. Arriving there, I looked around and could not help but notice the prevalence of black clothing, customary with winter.
Observing people amidst the hustle and bustle of the crowded city, I realised just how detached I've been from society, and it made me feel like I'm living in two parallel worlds.
I quickly rang Soraya to let her know in what direction I was facing; she spotted me, and I could see her waving hand above the crowd.
So near yet so far, because in reality, I've only been an hour drive away from her for the past few months, but with my remote lifestyle on the canals, the contrast is significant.
A lover of great coffee, Soraya brought me to her favourite Café and French Patisserie, where it was nice to hear her speaking French with the French owners, whom she has become friendly with.
We both ordered mocha coffees, and I had a Paris-Brest, a choux pastry filled with praline cream, and topped with toasted almonds - creamy and crunchy, while Soraya was saving her appetite for cake she'd ordered to take to a family gathering later.
Soraya and I have been through a lot separately together, and we've seen each other at our best and our worst; so whenever we meet, no matter how long we have not seen or spoken to each other, our conversations are varied; funny, and deep.
We have much in common, and connect on many levels, so heart-to-heart conversations flow easily. We are brutally honest with each other, and we both love that.
Our topics revolved around coffee, family, love, loss, inner happiness and our well-being in general. It was reassuring speaking to Soraya, as she brought up the level of freedom I now have in my life, which she encouraged me to cherish, and work hard to maintain it regardless of how low or full of despair life might seem at times. This was especially nice to hear, because Soraya was my boss for 4 years; during which time, we both respected our employer-employee relationship, and nourished our precious friendship.
We are a few years apart in age, but Soraya's support has been like that of a mum and sister, not just a best friend. We reinforced in each other the power of now. The importance of doing everything we are capable of doing as life's changes can happen quickly; the courage to believe in, and give the best of ourselves to our current lifestyle, even though others might not understand or accept the life or paths that we've chosen.
We had discussions about loss; something we both have experienced this year, and she gave me all the courage to reach out to my uncle who recently lost his life partner, which I did.
Strangely, Soraya came into my life when I lost my best friend suddenly, and helped me when my world felt like it was crumbling.
There's an absence of photos here, because we tend to tune the world out and let our emotions flow when we meet. One moment we might be laughing in stitches reminiscing on our youth (mine in Jamaica, and hers in the Reunion Islands, different yet so many similarities), or stories about her children, who I love and connect well with (great kids, but no surprise, Soraya is a great person), or we might breakdown in tears, but it's always good. We feel the love for each other:)
Soraya and I hate the cold. I'm a little better actually, but she likes snow, while my feeling about snow, (coming from a tropical island) is just like once is enough.
My time in Leicester is going by quickly, but I'll be meeting up with Soraya a few more times, at her home next time, because she has a Nespresso machine, and it's always great to sit in her backyard (if the weather is mild), and chat and laugh loudly in true island/creole style:)
Thanks for stopping by, as I share moments spent with my dear friend.