The time is 12.55 pm and Luc flew in from his adopted hometown of Barcelona yesterday with his British partner Amy and their two children Connor and Logan.
Amy is the British half of the couple, and they’re here to spend the holiday season with family. Luc is Swiss-British but right now is perhaps a little nomadic – having lived in several countries over his 37 years.
But it seems like Spain is the place that they’re going to settle.
So I sat in my usual spot in Costa Coffee, West Kensington.
It should look similar to the photo that you saw maybe on day one.
This is my writing spot for whatever the hell this is that I’m writing right now.
Anyway, I felt compelled to talk about my friend Luc because he’s on his way over and it’s made me reflect upon understanding what a best friend is.
(Something that I didn’t appreciate until I hit 26)
Now I’ve got many people in my life that are absolutely good/great/new friends of mine that I meet through work, socially, sports or otherwise (more recently work).
But – let me tell you the story of how I met Luc:
We met on August 30th, 2013.
At that time I was living with Daniela in Earls Court in a studio flat and was making a living as ‘The CV Guy’.
Basically, this entailed me posting ads on Gumtree to generate inquiries from students making various university or work applications.
Luc, in this instance, had just graduated from the University of Surrey with a First Class Honours in Statistics and was applying for master’s programmes.
Enter him finding my ad on Gumtree, and texting me – and from there we began working together.
Now I definitely have come a small way in terms of my presentation when meeting people.
But back then – my disdain for dressing up was very evident – as I’d turn up to meet Luc wearing a pair of camo-shorts, a jumper and a pair of flip-flops, even through the dreary autumn months in London.
So in essence – we’d meet at the local Costa just next to Earls Court and sit and work through Luc’s master’s applications together over the course of several months.
The idea of Luc meeting his application expert who would help write his Oxford, LSE, Imperial, Warwick, Bath and other applications in Earls’s court with said expert turning up in flip flops…in October.
At the basis of any great friendship, there is underneath it – a fundamental value exchange.
To begin with, this was the support I could offer with his Master’s applications – and to Luc’s great credit – as our relationship grew (the price was around £35 per hour) there was never a question of reducing the rates.
I have a couple of other clients at that time but Luc was definitely the most consistent.
Ultimately, the chances of us retaining a friendship would very much depend upon my ability to help him to succeed with these applications.
If he got a place at one of these respective universities – our relationship would have room to flourish.
And in some respects, the nature of my work helped cement our friendship.
We’d meet up once every few days as Luc was determined to do whatever he could to get a place at a top university.
He was pouring money into this process – and unlike other applications, I’d assisted with – Luc wasn’t interested in gleaning as much as he could through our work on one application and then attempting to transition this work across to other applications.
He wanted to make sure each one was as good as the other.
That’s why; when watching Thor at the Odeon cinema at Kensington High Street…getting his first rejection from Manchester – one of the lower-tier universities we thought we would surely get – it came as a blow.
It sucked to have put so much time (mine), and money (Luc’s) into a process that had not been met with success at what we thought was the easiest hurdle.
We were despondent and our relationship which was still newly forming took an immediate blow.
Until…we discovered that actually Manchester was rejecting Luc simply because they felt he was more suited to the different masters they offered.
As he quickly called them and confirmed – the offer was pretty much on the table.
What a turnaround it was – and several others would follow.
Upon Warwick offering Luc a scholarship for £15,000, we decided to call it quits as that would then be where Luc would go on to study.
And this is how our relationship found a brilliant foundation.
I could be the new friend that’d come into his life and had helped him secure a scholarship to study at one of the best business schools in Europe.
Luc did try and show his gratitude by taking me to watch Arsenal play someone with his excellent season tickets – and upon discovering I’d rather keep my head buried in my phone – I never saw an invitation like that again!
I thought I’d had good friends until I met Luc; only to discover there was a whole new space and way in which a person could be your friend.
I soon discovered after this that I could tell him of my relationship problems with Daniela.
And he would listen and say stuff back that just made sense to me – and was based upon his decade + of experience in international relationships.
Furthermore, as my relationship with Daniela ultimately broke down and I moved to Lisbon to live and then Rio – Luc flew out to both Lisbon (2x) and then South America – for a full month.
And from Rio we travelled on to Buenos Aires>Monte Video>Santiago>Florianopolis and back through these cities again.
And the adventures we had!
Relationships, much like soldiers who go to war together and are there for each other – are often forged by shared challenges – and perhaps it was selfish but certainly – Luc was there for me.
As whilst we traveled (and discovered we indeed could do so without argument whatsoever – again something that was new to me) – he’d also offer advice throughout these times – and fantastic advice it was.
So – beyond the camaraderie, and banter that populates 80% of our conversations – which I do and still have with many friends of mine – Luc’s consistency of ‘showing up’ and ‘checking in’ has been huge.
In reference to ‘checking in’ –
Throughout many of the events I did – marathons, ultramarathons, ironmen, military training – when I kept my phone off/not with me – I was still in a lot of emotional turmoil.
So then in those moments when I’d turn my phone on to see if there was anyone in the world who was thinking of me whilst I did a 20+ hour ultramarathon…
I’d get voice notes literally at different intervals throughout the race.
At 2 hours in Luc would have left a voice note saying
“yo yo yo Diva schlag you’re just starting 2 hours in – no fooking problemo yaaahoooo”
5 hours later….
“God damn dude you’re 7-hours in, probably in a little bit of pain now you should be more than 30km into the race and beginning to feel it up those mountains – keep going dude go go goooo”
6 hours later…..
“Brother you’re in beast mode now, 10 hours+ I can’t fooking remember how long it’s been – actually hang on lemme check…7…8…ok 11.3 hours as of now – kill it brother schlag kill it!”
When you’re doing ultramarathons along in Madeira or in going out for long-runs…and suffering from emotional turmoil as I was from my failed relationship with Daniela – messages like this meant the world to me.
Alongside Luc later flying out to yet another city (Amsterdam) and just hanging out with me when he could see I was so clearly distracted by this same everlasting problem of having split with the woman I always wanted to be with…still he’d come.
Still, he’d show up.
Still, he wouldn’t judge.
Still, our friendship endured.
And it’s been those specific experiences – of Luc being able to ‘show up’ without even ‘showing up’ and his consistency of showing up which in my mind has forever cemented our friendship.
Alongside this Luc also has the amazing ability to be able to point out (regularly) what he feels people’s talents are – as he’d often do with me when we spent a month together travelling through South America.
Men don’t often compliment each other very much – but Luc and I did – and I can’t speak for him – but his appreciation for my path/ability was something that I very much felt in need of.
In fact, it’s 5.50 am as I’m writing the 2nd half of this letter and Luc’s currently passed out in my flat on the couch lol.
That’s (part of) the story of Luc and mine’s friendship – and it seems pertinent to delve more deeply into the relationship issues that had plagued me well before Daniela as well as Luc in the next email. It’s difficult to find friends in this life who you can share such a range of experiences as well as vulnerabilities with.
And as things have changed over that time – now that I’m back with Daniela now; living in Fulham and Luc now has a fiance and 2 children – our friendship has not.