Next year, in around 9 months time, my beautiful best friend is getting married. That right of passage we all look forward to, and it's happening. NEXT YEAR! My Best Friend's Wedding! Every time this thought pops into my head, I get a bubble of excitement in my tummy and the threat of tears in my eyes, because quite frankly this is the most exciting thing that has happened to me. Yes, to ME! The wedding of course is all about her, them, the most perfect couple you could ever imagine (I know everyone says this but REALLY!), but as one of her 4 lucky bridesmaids, I am proof of just how much the beauty of a wedding radiates beyond the couple in question, to all the people close to them.
When Harriet asked me to be her bridesmaid (at my 27th birthday, with all my best ones around me) it knocked me sideways - in a good way. I felt and still feel so blessed to be involved in the marriage of such a fantastic couple, both brilliant as individuals and as a team. But beyond that it just touched me to feel so valued by them. I mean, you kinda hope that's the case with your best mate, but nothing screams WE LOVE YOU more than being included in their special day. So I cried, obviously.
I am yet to meet someone with Harriet's energy - both in terms of the amount of it and her disposition, she's so warm and confident in the best way possible, and makes everyone around her feel comfortable and protected. If you want a drink she jumps up to get it, if you need a shoulder she is there in a heartbeat, if you are having a little life crisis and have your lost your way, she guides you back and sees the best in you when you can't even see it in yourself. She is someone who is so naturally inspired to be there for other people, that she doesn't even know she's doing it, and she is hands down the most selfless person I have had the privilege to know. As you can see, I am constantly bragging about how amazing Harriet is, and she is even better as a friend.
The history of my friendship with Haz hasn't been conventional. We met on the other side of the world for one thing. In a hostel in Noosa - a tiny posh town in Australia which I visited for all of about 36 hours. She walked in, aged 18, with the confidence of a 27 year old, tanned, a ball of energy and smiles, easy-going and completely 100% content in roaming around Australia by herself. In stark contrast I was a bit of a pasty nervous wreck, with a mass of frizzy beach hair, on the verge of tears at most times, feeling lonely at roaming around Australia by myself. Haz took me for a drink that night and I was probably boring, quiet, tired, obsessed with getting home to the UK. We parted ways a few days later, but she always stuck in my mind as someone who I admired.
Little did I know that I would find myself bumping into her a few times at the university we both attended in Sheffield, and that within 5 years, a year after I graduated, I would be occupying the 8th bedroom in her house of 7 friends. I had graduated, they were all final year students, and it was a mad couple of months in every way. Easily the most unbalanced and lost I have ever been, I partied all week with the students whilst trying to hold down a job which I did enjoy, I spent all of my peanuts salary on Jaeger Bombs, regularly went into work hungover and found myself in debt, lost and isolated as my reckless ways alienated me from the rest of the group. I was stuck in a dark, toxic cycle and apart from my family and friends who were all 200 miles away, Harriet was my only light.
Some time later, when all the signs screamed at me to change something, I did the decent thing and moved out and on, formed a proper young professional life in a proper young professional house in a nice part of town and actually did the 9-5 thing. Early nights, the gym, healthy meals, the Friday feeling. I found my way back, but not without the enormous help of Haz. While those few months were fairly crazy, Harriet was pretty much a constant. She had to be there for me a lot very early on in our friendship, but somehow she knew without knowing that my behaviour was out of character and pretty much carried me back to a point I could start again from.
Although I moved on, my friendship with Harriet stuck, and blossomed and grew, as I was finally the person she knew I could be and I was able to give her the best of myself. In the years since, Harriet has never failed to amaze me with her generosity and warmth, I honestly can't fault her as a friend. She's driven over from Manchester just to have dinner with me on a random Wednesday, she's dropped everything to wine with me on a Friday night when I was feeling down, she's called me instantly whenever I have needed her, within 2 hours of my new job offer, there were flowers from her at my door. She has championed me and encouraged me to the point I am finally properly confident and finally treat myself with the respect that I should - I am under no illusions, I know I massively owe it to her. She's been both my rock and my role model. Harriet is proof that you get back what you put out into the world, and the reason she has found such everlasting love is because she is constantly giving to other people, is so selfless and grounded, and expects absolutely nothing back.
Needless to say, I am quite beyond bursting with pride and cannot wait to see her tie the knot in 2014. I even bought the most perfect wedding acceptance card about 3 months ago (haven't had my invite yet) and I am planning my entire year around what is going to be one of the most memorable moments of my lifetime - my Haz marrying her more than deserving man.