The blue floral dress belongs to the beautiful Flo, and the black, red and yellow one was inherited from my maternal great-grandma - a fitting choice for Flo to wear, as she's previously taken photos of me in it.
Photos by me - back in May, during a brief burst of summer.
We used to bounce on the trampoline. We’d fly up and down, airborne as we sang rhymes and attempted complicated hand-clapping routines mid-jump. I coveted that trampoline, wanting one of my own. Instead, at my house, we dressed up. We wore purple velvet, spangled shawls, old nightdresses, net hats, shiny pink lipstick and shoes three times too big. We performed plays and crafted elaborate stories: pretending to be orphans, hiding in the ‘cave’ under my bed or piling idea upon idea about our future lives. The dramas continued on the day we made a puppet theatre – carving a proscenium arch out of the front of the tall box our fridge-freezer had just arrived in. It was painted in pink and blue, and we squashed inside, peering out into the auditorium of the garden. I have photos of us both brandishing paintbrushes – me with gapped teeth and plaits, she with thick, messy hair and a grin.
The ‘she’, of course, is Flo: photographer, friend and all-round fabulous person. We’ve known each other - or rather, she has known me - since I was a few days old. Our parents’ friendship was catalysed by my birth, her mum arriving at our front door with a brown paper bag of cherries and a cry of “Where’s the baby?”
We’ve had several holidays together on the Welsh coast – back when we were both little. Our two families squashed together around the kitchen table - fighting over the first slice of toast or the last spoonful of pasta sauce. Flo and I (along with various other siblings) plundered the bookshelf for comics, played board games on the faded carpet and let our playmobil toys explore the garden at the back. This garden came to a sharp stop at the bottom, marked with a low, stone wall. Below us there was a path that edged the beach, often frequented by dog walkers. We had a game – ‘accidently’ dropping a playmobil figure over the wall just as someone strolled past. We counted how many would pick it up and return it, and how many strode on. We stopped doing that on the day her princess figure was mauled – left with canine-shaped tooth marks in her dress and hat.
There are plenty of other memories I could delve into – unhooking the latch on images of us swimming in the cold, choppy sea or pulling the dustcover from recollections of my jealousy over the two-year age difference between us. But this isn’t a friendship that remains stored somewhere in the past, left behind like many others. No, despite several years of sporadic communication, Flo and I joined forces again when I was thirteen. She took the first set of photos that I ever used on my blog. I wore silver sparkled leggings for one shot, a sixties green mini-dress for another. At that point I saw her as the slightly glamorous ‘older girl’, and was flattered by her renewed interest. But, in recent years, it has evened out into something much more equal – a friendship between two young women who can collaborate on shoots, spend hours lying in fields discussing our lives and toast each other’s birthdays under the stars. Now that she’s moved away, meet-ups are rare. We’re both busy people with plenty to fill our days. But she’s still the one I can confide in when I’m upset; the one willing to cavort through flowers for the sake of a good shot; the one who I can trust to accept me as I am, rather than judging. Plus, we’re both still rather big fans of the dressing up box.