Do you remember the first time that we met? We'd been speaking in that group chat before uni - the one that started with me, you, Milan and Georgia - and my family hiking holiday brought me to the Lake District near you. Remember how you took me to a really dodgy pub in Cockermouth because you knew the landlord and needed to borrow some of his son's law books? You bought me a diet coke and wouldn't let me pay. You're generous like that. We went up to the flat above the pub and sat on a dusty carpet just chatting about our lives. I remember how you told a story about something that happened at school and you used the word "us" to refer to just yourself. That threw me the first few weeks that I knew you, took me a while to get my head around. You Northerners and your first person plural pronouns when you mean singular!
Are you still fiercely proud of your Cumbrian roots? I could never decide if that was something I loved or hated about you! Do you still hate everyone who comes from anywhere south of Manchester? (Everyone except me, of course!) I suppose it's good that you're passionate about things, wildly enthusiastic. Vivacious. Do you still love Jeremy Corbyn? I know you used to love to debate about politics, and I never could tell you that I didn't vote Labour. I was a bit scared of what you might have said, I think. I bet you still go out canvassing for Labour when election times roll round. I wonder what you thought of the snap election this year. I would have loved to have talked about it with you.
Have you got any more tattoos? I wish I'd come with you now, back in 2014, to watch you get that albatross on your shoulder blade. I think I stayed back with Amy to sort out all of our washing in the laundrette, or something equally mundane, while Georgia went with you. Strange how close you and Georgia were, how similar you were in so many ways, and yet it was also those parallels which made you clash. I don't think either of you would like to hear it - which is why I've never said it - but you two are more alike than you think. I see so much of you in her, especially in third year, when you weren't around.
I've often wondered about you, since those awful couple of weeks where you and Amy and Georgia weren't speaking, and I felt terribly caught in the middle. It shouldn't have been a case of loyalties, or ganging up on anyone, which is why I tried so hard to stay out of everything. Remember that night when you brought Elle round at about 9pm, and went up to Georgia's room to talk things over? Except it turned into screaming things over, awful things said and done, with Amy powering upstairs to join Georgia. What you don't know is that Josh and I sat downstairs that night in a horrified silence, listening to everything being said. My eyes got a bit teary as I came to the realisation - amidst the shrieking and swearing - that the four of us, us girls, would never, and could never, be how we were before.
After you left, it took me months to get used to not having you around. No one to come into my room every evening, without fail, to chat about our days. No one to knock on my door to ask me if I wanted a cup of tea, or some toast. No midnight Asda runs to pick up 5p loaves of bread in the reduced aisle. No one to pick me up from the station every time I came back from Cardiff, to go to McDonald's drive thru with. No one to pop to town with on a whim, or to watch trashy TV with. It took me months to get used to being a group of three with Amy and Georgia, rather than a pack of four with you there. The dynamics changed. I think maybe you and I always got each other on a level that I never had with them.
I was devastated when you moved out, messaged me to say you were posting your keys through the door. So sad when you deleted me from Facebook, saying it was too hard for you to have reminders of this terrible experience in your mind - even if that reminder was me. Saying you still consider me a friend, but that you need to move on, maybe even complete your final year of uni somewhere else. Saying you couldn't believe it had come to this, but your dad was coming here to move your stuff out, because you couldn't face it.
You weren't faultless in this. You were provoked, perhaps, but you took the bait every single time - no matter who offered it , or how small it was - and just burst into a raging tornado of negative emotion. I know your mental health was a challenge for you at times, and that you battled with it hard, but I also know that you didn't seek out the help you needed. Maybe you didn't want to, maybe you were in denial. Our house, our home together, became quite a volatile environment for everyone to live in. It was like a pot simmering for weeks, until one day it boiled over and everyone, everything, got burned.
I'm glad you and Greg broke up. I never liked him. Your new guy seems nice though, and you look adorable together. I'm really happy for you. Did you ever get that albatross tattoo watercoloured? I know you always wanted to. I hope you did. I'm so pleased that you decided to come back to Chester too, after your year abroad, to finish uni. You did love it there, and Instagram tells me you've been enjoying the Christmas markets now, just as we used to together two or three years ago. I hope you're a lot happier now than you were at the start of last year, because you really deserve to be. You're a sweet, generous, ambitious girl who I wish nothing but the best for. Maybe I'll drop you a message soon, just to see how you're getting on. If I could wind back to two years ago, I would. I think I could have salvaged the mess you, Amy and Georgia made then with what I know now.
Take care, Rach. I hope our paths cross again one day.