I took my van to her first festival last weekend and I vividly remembered what (or who) pushed me to actually buy it. I have wanted a camper since I was around 9; I would go into the tiny studio apartment spaces in Ikea and decide “this is all the space I need” the bed on top of the couch, the couch that is also a desk. A little while later a family member bought me a VW money box and that was it, I decided one day I would do it. One day I would have a tiny house on wheels. But knowing that I wanted it and actually finding the guts to do it are two wildly different things. What day is one day? When do you actualise your dreams?
I met Dannielle when I started working at the Jacaranda in Liverpool (before the toilets got done up). I was almost scared of her she was so vivacious. Her eyes lit up and she would laugh and scream no matter who was listening. She had this way of furrowing her brow and saying “NUH” in her Northern (West coast) Irish accent and her head wobbled as she danced with a perpetual grin. I didn’t stay scared of her and soon we were swinging around poles, getting into trouble, getting out of trouble (mostly) and put the world to rights. She was my running partner, and like everything with Danni you felt like you were always just catching up, panting behind her as she skipped energetically off ahead. She went to Australia, Bali, Nepal, Goa and so many place in between. She shucked pearls, fed hammerhead sharks, hiked, swam, drank and connected and inspired people all over the world. We saw each other the night before she left to go travelling and I told her I was going to do it, to finally buy the van.
What happened next is scary. What happened next is something you imagine but never expect. She didn’t come home. It wasn’t an accident but it was a mistake, because nobody who really knew Danni would ever want her to leave. I attended her funeral, still not believing she was gone, sat with her friends, my friends, expecting her to saunter in saying “ahh have youse all been waiting on me yeah?”. But she didn’t, and she won’t in this lifetime.
So I bought the van.
That’s it, this is it, that one day, this day is the day because she didn’t get all of hers and one day will turn into tomorrow that will turn into when I retire that will turn into never. I have written and rewritten this post so many times because I didn’t know what sentiment to convey, it is sad and it will always be sad but in a lot of ways it hasn’t made me sad. It has made me wake up and take action, it has made me realise that whatever job I get I will always be in debt. Whoever I vote for I might end up living under a government that doesn’t look after or understand me. Whoever I meet might not be with me forever.
So buy a van. Become a golfer. Learn to scuba. Speak Spanish. Play chess. Run a mile. Climb, cook, DJ or play the French horn. Whatever you closed your eyes and wanted to do when you were little, whatever makes you feel like you might never stop smiling, DO IT. Even just a little bit, even just once a week or on the smallest of scales.
Danni didn’t wait for life, she ran in front of it. Once one dream is attempted you will find a new one, and another one, and another one. One might turn into another one you didn’t realise. You don’t even have to be good at it. You might not even like it. But try it. Give it a wee go.
This post is dedicated to the unwavering friends and family of Danielle. There has been so much support and love that it has kept the essence and attitude of Danni around. This is for your sisters, and of course for you Danni. You didn’t care about people who didn’t care about you, you wasted no energy on holding a grudge, and you were right – yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Without knowing you I would have taken a lot more shit without standing up for myself, without you I might not have ever bought this van, without even just the memory of you I would be totally fucked. My cider sister, my leggy running coach, you are and will always be a fucking legend.
Whatever you are up to, KEEP WINNING