I came across a picture one day and it caught my eye: a picture of my friend, Julia, and myself, standing in a fountain in Guelph. Man, that was a good day and I remember it well.
I drove up to Guelph to visit my friend on one of her day passes from the hospital and I was nervous about what to expect. I remember picking Julia up that day: she had this sadness about her that just kind of sticks to you when you’re in treatment. I hadn’t seen her in over a month and prior to her admission, we saw each other every week. She hugged me tight when she saw me and I knew I had to make this day unforgettable for her. I was scared for Julia – she was fighting her worst demon – and I didn’t want her to lose her fight. I’d grown to depend on this person and to love this person with all of my heart, and the thought of losing them was too much to bear.
We walked the streets of Guelph, going in and out of all the small shops. I even bought a Venus Fly Trap plant (which proceeded to die a very quick death in my Toronto apartment). We stopped for coffee at this little cafe that Julia would go to on her breaks and bit by bit, I saw her sadness leave her. Her eyes were bright again, even after reminding herself that she needed to take a break and take care of herself. I missed the brightness in her eyes. I missed my Julia.
We were walking along a fountain when Julia simply said “I wish we could go swimming”. She turned around to see me bolting to a bench to tear off my platform boots and fishnets, and taking a step into the cold water of the fountain. I didn’t even think about it. Julia wanted to go swimming. There was no pool around. I had to get creative! Thankfully, Julia’s own shoes and socks found solace under the bench as we jumped around a public fountain, splashing each other and living our lives. We didn’t pay attention to the people around who were probably wondering why two young females would be dancing barefoot in a public fountain in the middle of the day. They didn’t matter. Standing in the middle of that fountain, holding my friend’s hand was all I cared about in that moment.
I never thought that I would be the type of person to do something so impulsively and I guess I am. I just wanted to make my friend smile and I think I accomplished that. Now, it’s a beautiful memory that I hope to carry with me the rest of my life. I guess I’m “that” friend now and thinking about it, I’d rather be that friend that drags you into a public fountain than the one that stands on the sidelines with judgement. I’d rather live my life the way that I want to over someone else’s idea on how life should be lived
I’m thankful for that fountain. I think about it a lot and how amazing that day was for us: I remember the shock on Julia’s face when I splashed her with cold water and how determined she was to make me pay for it; I remember laughing at the people making their quiet judgement from the side and promising to not let them get to us; and I remember hugging each other because we missed each other and we weren’t sure when we would see each other again. Since then, we’ve come so far. I’m so proud of us for making it past our one-year anniversary, Julia. No one said it was perfect and we’re here, fighting for ourselves, and that’s pretty damn amazing. I’m so proud of you for all the progress you’ve made, and how you continue to advocate for eating disorders and against diet culture. You’re a remarkable human being and I truly believe that you were meant to recover.
We needed that lesson. We needed to learn that it didn’t matter what other people thought about us and I’m so proud that we did. It’s hard to remember sometimes and if I ever need a reminder, I can look at this photograph of us in the fountain.
We’ve come a long way since that photograph. We’ve become very different people without our eating disorders and yet, we’re still connected. We were meant to be friends, I think, however corny that may sound. I’m proud to be your friend and I can’t wait for this pandemic to be over so that we can enjoy recovery together. Congratulations on your recovery. I’m proud of you.