Love And Friendship: Bye Bye Brigitte See You In Disneyland

Our recent fare thee well trip to Blackpool

You are never quite sure why you let some people into your life and others don’t make it past the garden gate.

In the summer of 2013, like Miley Cyrus on her wrecking ball, Brigitte swung into my life and things were never quite the same.

Today, after twenty years of being in Manchester, England, she is high in the sky, on an airplane back to America, to set up a the next chapter of her life in Florida.

Brigitte is one of those rare things, a higher human force made inordinately strong by Mother Nature in physicality and spirit.

My cousin once remarked, that if he needed someone to help him sail a barge across the English Channel to get it moored in Amsterdam, Brigitte would be the person he would want to help him.

With her raucous laugh, appetite for running marathons and gung-ho radical left philosophies, she is an easily misunderstood character that gets pigeon-holed in many of the wrong boxes.

Don’t not be deceived. Underneath the Rocky Balboa exterior beats a huge and tender heart.

Two Worlds Colliding

Brigitte: The life, light (and sometimes strife) of my soul at 37 Crofton Street

Previously we had swum past each other in the same Whalley Range pond life, round and round, two lost souls drinking at the Nip and Tipple.

It wasn’t until I was made redundant, then kick-started my freelance writing journey, in the old coach house just down the road from the bar that our paths truly crossed.

Truly is the word.

At that time, spiritually I was broken. Heartbroken, natch. (This I could cope with, it had happened many times before.) The hard problem I was labouring under was trust. Specifically lack of it. Trust in myself. Trust in others. Trust in life. Once trust is broken. It is a hard place to crawl back from.

Enter Brigitte.

Born in a rainforest in the Congo, this wild tattoed woman discovered we were veritable neighbours.

From then on, she regularly stomped up the long drive to the house, a net shopping bag in one hand, purloined flowers from gardens and hedgerows in the other.

She told me in no uncertain circumstances that she was:

  • going to cook for me every day
  • teach me how to play cribbage, as part of her one woman mission to convert the world
  • get me dancing again* (you have to bend your body)

Oddly, like my cat Tom-Tom sat at the top of the drive did for me, I began to do the same for Brigitte.

Reclined back on the sun-lounger, hat tipped down shading my eyes, my uncalloused palms would twitch with excitement at the anticipation of her truculent, intransigent self arriving.

There was always some war to be won with Brigitte. Always some struggle to antagonise against. Black Lives Matter, trans rights, feminism, patriarchy, austerity, homelessness, often homelessness.

Once during Pride, Brigitte gave a homeless man a pep talk on the corner of Sackville Street.

She sat down with him and grabbed him by both shoulders shouting in his ear, ‘You can get up and get a life for yourself! You can make something of yourself!’

Brigitte isn’t prone to putting herself above anyone else, apart from the odd Tory or ten, even though she is a natural at many things in life: decorating, wood-carving, plastering, massage, being a mermaid, to name but a few.

A fan of Oscar Wilde, she lives his beautiful and yet strangely blunt line: We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

The Transformation Of Romantic Love Into Friendship

Life, in all its relentless beauty and pain, gets in the way of mad love. Mad crazy love can’t sustain itself, let alone two humans hungry for intimacy without the required skills in that area.

We both tried really hard to make it work, built a home, got our own respective fur babies that became half-kitty siblings, hosted a lot of parties and played a lot of Dixit.

‘We’re just two people,’ said Brigitte a couple of years later, when we fought tooth and nail to make it to companions, then a couple of years later, exhaustedly agreed it would be better if we were friends.

I was three months pregnant.

My daughter in the arms of Honorary Aunty B

Early this morning, me and my daughter should’ve been taking Brigitte to the airport. Instead a tummy bug has laid us low and left me writing these words.

There are a combination of reasons that Brigitte has contributed to that helped me get my daughter here. One of them was I hoped that by having a kid it would bring us closer together, make us a family.

And weirdly, in an unexpected way it has. Not in any way I could’ve imagined.

As the one and only honorary Aunty of the new wild thing in my life, Brigitte rocks at that role.

In the end though Brigitte, I want you to know, you gave me something no other human has ever managed to do – you restored my faith in life. Hence the blog.

See you in Disneyland!

(I don’t miss you because you live in a room in my heart — the left atrium. Sure do miss the all-nighters round the outdoor fire though.)

Brigitte in March 2023: She got past my gate, right into my inner onion

*This she managed late one night under the Whalley Range stars to this killer tune:

Every thing you need to know about life is in this song. ‘If you never know truth, then you never know love’. Amen.

#Friendship #Love

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