12 February, 2010

Portrait of a Friend: Victoria

Meet Victoria Jayne Hinde.

She is my friend.
And she has proven to be a true one.
Over and over again.

Victoria is beautiful
and gifted
and brave
and strong
and fun
and Overall?
She is pretty flippin’ great.

Time spent with her is like having a slumber party, only you can curse without getting into trouble, and the mean girl from second grade isn’t around to make you cry anymore, and instead of Dr. Pepper and Swedish Fish, you can share such things as Italian meats and hummus and (her very favourite) cherry tomatoes. Or bottles of rosé and pappardelle with bagna cauda, wilted radicchio, and eggs fried in olive oil (as well as Dr. Pepper and Swedish Fish if you so choose).

Victoria is a a grabber of life.
She not only sees something ahead of her and clutches it un-apologetically with both hands, but she creates pleasures and opportunities for herself as well.

She has an admirably devoted team of friends around her, friends she has collected and measured and devoted her heart to the way one might weigh, measure and select with artful consideration the purchase of a piece of expensive, life-long jewelry.

Friends she collects she nurtures, she tends to, she feeds and cradles and celebrates and delights in. I do not know how I ever made it in to this circle but somehow I managed it and feel like I’ve won a kind of lottery.

* * *

Once upon a time, Al and Vicoria were early for rehearsal.
Very early.
5 hours early.

And it was deeply tragic for we were both exhausted
She was busy as a swing, dancing dirtily in Dirty Dancing
I was already feeling the burden of exploring Julie Jordan…
…at 10am.
…in Fulham.

Lindsay [Posner—the director] looked at us and said “Oh God I’m so sorry girls… I…” he winced slightly, knowing full well the effect of the next agonizingly truthful phrase “… I don’t need you until 2…”
He paused.
We stood before him… dumbfounded.

“I don’t know how that happened…”
we continued to stare at him, aghast.
“…forgive me…”
Not knowing what to say, he crept away cautiously back to the rehearsal already in progress.

And Victoria looked at me and said quite simply,
 “I want to cry…”

And in this moment I knew something special was about to happen.

Victoria Hinde and Al Silber (two girls with an already ever-so-blossoming connection based on a mutual love of Jason Mraz), looked at one another, walked quietly out of the rehearsal room and sat in the lobby of the grubby Dance Attic in a state of mild comatose.

“Oh my God…” she groaned, Victoria really was welling up a bit with tears in her huge, Bambi brown eyes and for a brief moment, looked like a very sad child.

“Okay.” I said, authoritative American voice in action, “Okay. We can go to the cinema and sleep. We can try to go home?”

Her face quivered with despair as she pictured her bed well over an hour away on public transport. “Or!” I tried to save us here, “we could sort of make a day of it? We could go into Central London and take a look around the shops? Get some nice lunch? Have a nice time together having a little adventure..?”

“Yeah?” she replied. This sounded a bit more appealing than sitting and rotting in Dance Attic. “We could go to Selfridge’s,” she suggested.
“You know what?” I said, “I have genuinely never been. Not in four years of living in London have I ever been inside Selfridge’s.”
Whaaaaat?” she replied in what I now recognize as her typical Victoria shock response. “Well, we have to go then.”

Off we went.

* * *

We walked to the station and boarded the train into town. And it was on this journey that it all began.

“Sometimes…” she admitted, “sometimes, just bein’ honest, right? Sometimes I just stare at you because I can’t actually believe how pretty you are! And then you sing and it’s just like— whaaaaat?”
“Oh my God, please," I am actually laughing, "would you look at yourself?” 
“No, I’m bein’ serious here!” she insisted, her lifelong London drawl making a proper appearance now, “I’m worried you’re gonna think I’m some kinda psycho when I’m not at all I’m just a bit mesmerized and confused about how someone could have all that!”

I pause for a moment because I am actually trying to see whether or not she is joking.
She is not.
And I am suddenly filled with this very odd warmth of feeling: this totally remarkable stranger, without any prompting or pause for major insecurity, has made me feel so lovely about myself with her honesty.

“Thank you…” I reply with an awkward smile. I am possibly the worst person in the world at accepting compliments regarding my personal appearance. Especially from a person that looks as perfect as Victoria.

“But I have no boobs” she admits, all serious face “So I’m not that perfect am I?” and she smirks.

We enter Selfridge’s and take a look around. She shows me all her favourite places and things— leather jackets because she is a badass and a little bit rock and roll. O.P.I nail laquer. Jelly Belly’s. Stationary. Chocolate. Bare Minerals. Normally I find shopping, especially in anything described as a Department Store not just pointless but overwhelming. With Victoria it is excruciatingly fun. (I would come to learn that with Victoria, pretty much everything is more fun— from watching movies to drinking cocktails to concerts to talking about Russia). “Shopping isn’t frivilous it is fun and pleasurable” she insisted, “and nothing this fun and pleasurable can be stupid!”

She was right. I’d never seen it that way.

I tentatively approach the M.A.C counter feeling like a shopping novice, and clumsily fondle a lip gloss that appears to be rather enticing.

“Are you gonna get somethin’?!” she asks me, excited. Her enthusiasm is intoxicating.
“I don’t know…” I answer honestly, “I do really like it….”
“Um, then get it, silly! You can’t come to your first trip to Selfridge’s and not get a single thing!”

So I did. (And to this very day I still have it and it reminds me of that first outing).

After our stroll around the iconic store we stopped at Pret A Manger for an early lunch and parked ourselves on a street bench along a bustling Oxford Circus. It was there we began to, in heavenly honest stages, reveal and share the innermost stories of our lives— from love, to family, to loss and struggle, laughter, friends and every magical moment in between.

By the time we looked up, it was time to head back. And neither of us wanted to.

What a way to pass the time.

* * *

When you look at the photographs we took earlier this summer, it don’t have to tell you Victoria Jayne Hinde is beautiful. But let me tell you about something else: she is beautiful. There's something special about this girl, something mesmerizing. And I don't just mean in a Hollywood kind of way.

When Victoria enters a room you don’t just notice, you smile. Yes, she has absorbing eyes, a perfect pout and mane, a grace that's rare to see, killer legs uptothere and a sense of fabulous so un-teachable it smarts.

But this girl is one incredible friend.

Thoughtful, considerate, enthusiastic.
She burns you CDs
She takes photos
She writes heartfelt notes
She makes you little care packages filled with all of the above and more.

She remembers important dates
And asks you interesting questions and then really wants to hear the answers
(--She also talks to you patiently and endlessly about the novel you are writing then tells everyone else she knows how proud she is of you. She also sends you texts messages about how excited she is to come your “book party” that will inevitably happen at some point in the future “Someday someone is going to ask me ‘where are you going?’ and I will get to say ‘to my friend’s book party!’”—then gets ecstatic when you inform her there might be three books to which her reply is utter joy at the possibility of three parties, thus three public opportunities to be proud of you).

She takes you to new and exciting places she think you would love
She lets you borrow clothes that she insists would look good on you (and sometimes steals items from her friends and prays you’ll forget!)
She tells you it is not only okay to not feel better about heartache, but offers to listen to you about your pain until you don’t need to talk about it anymore.
She makes you feel included in a room full of strangers

This is a girl who is way more that merely a beauty
or a dancer.
This girl is a deeply gifted, multi-faceted artist.
A girl with opinions.
A girl who is one of those people with silly insecurities when really she has it all (that doesn’t remind me of anyone…)
She is an adventurer.
A girl who has principles about love.
A girl who knows what she wants
And then unapologetically goes and gets it.

In fact, at the end of last year, this is a girl who, after years of wondering, bought a ticket to Australia to see if her feelings for a man she adored were the real thing. She didn’t want anyone else and could not spend her life wondering. (Or, Wonderin’, as another principled heroine might say…). She got on the plane and found out. That is brave. That is making yourself vulnerable, that is open-hearted and feisty.

That is the definition of courage.

She is a girl who, at the buffet of life, would go back for thirds.

I think we can all get behind that.

* * *

Around Christmas this year we got to communicate a lot online which was a real joy. An opportunity to actually communicate in a differnet and at times, far more personal way. Odd that, but accurate.

“Hey Al..?” she types from Down Under after a long and truly delicious catch up session, the kind that leaves one all topped up and tingly with they joys of connection.
“Yeah Vic?” I type back— 20 times zones away in Los Angeles.

There is a pause. It feels full.

“I am so glad we were early.”
“Me too…” I reply.

That is putting it mildly.

17 comments:

Mathew said...

What a truly lovely blog
Matt x

Matthew said...

This is a highlight on this blog...what a wonderful gift to this apparently amazing woman. Thank you for touching my heart with this beautiful story this morning. Friendship is magic.

Anonymous said...

Beyond words. xo.

Em said...

An utterly beautiful and truthful tribute to an inspirational friendship. To be cherished. Xx

Grace said...

this made me cry (surprise)...remember when I cried in Smollensky's??? pah xxx

Anonymous said...

Friendship just soared to a much newer height...beautiful Alex!!! x

JLR said...

Al, that was amazing and -- in your beautiful tribute to your friend -- it says so much about YOU. I adore you.

Vic said...

i honestly do not know what to say.....
you have made my day in so many unbelievable ways i love you and miss you always.....

London Still said...

Thank you everyone. x

And PS) "Vic" is Victoria herself! xx

Vetsky said...

my god you are a gifted writer (among other things!) by the end I wanted to BE Victoria & see you again! Beautiful x

Tash said...

wow.... I don't know what to say. Victoria, you are a wonderful girl, and do many wonderful things for your friends, myself included that you might think are really small, but actually mean a great deal. And Al, i love your blog, and you very much. Am now going to wipe my tears and stop embarrassing myself!xx

London Still said...

well get your hankies ready and lookout tasha! you're next :o)

Lauren Berger said...

This is beautiful. And reminds me that I should thank my true friends as well for their strength and support. Thank you for that wonderful reminder!

StephensSweetSurrender said...

beautiful words Al...you can tell that Victoria & yourself share an amazing friendship...

Sho said...

Oh my God that is amazing! Al you are amazing! VIctoria, what a beautiful person you are. Everything Al has said is tru and i am so happy and fortunate to have you in my life! xxxxx

lizzo said...

beautiful.

She said...

This is beautifully written. Joy to read too. Its true :-) xxx

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