Parties at home are filled with the same faces. I don’t know all of them well but they’re cool and friendly and have become as familiar to me as any other part of this city. I like them so much. In high school everything felt so close together, little things would rub us the wrong way so easily. Now though, spread between cities, we have room to let go and when i’m with them it is only in the best way.
In that chaotic, laughing, golden way. Faces half illuminated in the muffled glow of a cigarette or the reflection of the lights inside. Bottles clinking mixing with voices mingling, both competing with the bass pumping familiar beats in the background. Peaceful. People creeping around collecting flowers in the bushes, lying on the ground staring at the ceiling. Loud. Chanting and cheering from the boys with the beer, the poundings of feet to the songs that we all know. Moving, drifting, touching, feeling. The atmosphere is so full of verbs – alive. Laughing, dancing, drinking, talking. Everyone, no matter how well they know you, is always happy to see you.
And I was thinking about it and I realised that what makes this group so good is how much love they have for each other. I met so many good people in Auckland who couldn’t name a close friend or tell me who they were excited to see at home. To them, loving your friends seemed foreign or even shameful, and that took something away from them.
Because being loved is attractive. You’re confident and kind and quicker to laugh. When you know that what you say is going to be heard or that someone will always have your back you can go harder, you have more fun. You don’t need to win over people you don’t respect, you don’t have to have time for people who aren’t good to you – when you know you’re loved you can be so genuine. And maybe it could be dangerous or even gross with everyone so overconfident, but this group who are all so loved – they are the most loving people I know. They’re happy to see each other, to belong to each other even just for the night. Everyone is holding hands or sharing a blanket or climbing on to people’s shoulders – and there isn’t anything sexual about it – people just like to be close. Huddling in circles for warmth, rocking against each other on the dance floor, making each other tea. There is always someone who will put their arms around you or tell you that they love you or chat to you about music and cities and life.
Of course the alcohol helps. It makes things warmer and softer and meshes everyone together on the nights things don’t flow so easily. But mostly it’s just them – these people and the way they choose each other over and over again.
And I’m not trying to say we are all best friends because we aren’t but also we don’t need to be. These people I like just because they make me happy when they’re around. I respect them and admire them and maybe I don’t think of all of them all of the time. Mostly they don’t cross my mind until I see them in a photo or walking past in town – But those moments I do think of them I’m amazed – I’m so happy that they’re out in the world because they’re so good. They, and their ability to love the people they meet and the places they go and the things that they do is important. It will never be anything less than a miracle to me that I got to grow up with a lot of them – that we all call the same place home.
We don’t get on in some idyllic way. We’re not all the same person. There can be drama and messy conversation and people who’ve stopped looking each other in the eyes. We do things that aren’t cool, to each other and to ourselves. They’re not perfect – but they loved me enough this summer that I could forget about everything I didn’t want to remember and I can’t express how much that meant to me. How much coming home to them will always mean to me. They’re not perfect, but they’re my people. I’m so grateful for that.