A Letter For Imogen - 25.08.18

Dear Imogen,

You're now 20! It's funny how we grew up in the same class, both Virgos, and yet due to you being born in August (and me in September) we're nearly a year apart in age. As a result, I think I owe you a proper welcome to this decade I've been in for almost a year. I can't tell you what being 20 feels like, because honestly I don't know. It doesn't really have a feeling - I constantly forget that I'm no longer a teenager and people still think I'm 16 anyway. However, I can tell you that I believe being 20 will bring you so much happiness, as it has done for me. It would be almost criminal if it doesn't, because you truly do deserve to look around and see mounds and stretches of pure rose gold joy, again and again and again.

You are my best friend, which you know. You're not the best friend I talk to every day, or the best friend who's by my side on every night out. You're the best friend who I talk to and then life makes sense, the best friend who's by my side year after year. Isn't it strange to look back? We saw every version of each other, our eyes were constants. Two bright kids who were close but not too close that we burnt. Then hell days in a brick building gradually became your past and whilst it was still my present I found peace away from their sharp words. Between us we had cups of tea, loyalty, laughter and a passion for theatre - we ventured to London in the early hours where we experienced life away from our small town, cried at what we saw on stage and found hope for a future we could make our own.

I've been there when you haven't felt so strong, and yet I've never, not even for a second, doubted the power you hold. Imogen Jean Routledge, who is bold beyond measure, would always have too much light in her soul to be kept down. I know very well that the world hasn't been kind to you in the past, but I hope that in your 20s you gain far more than you ever lost. I can't wait to see you start uni and blossom there, and whilst you do so, don't overwork yourself. As admirable as your hard work is, I don't want you burning yourself out; allow yourself to shine in every way, like I know you will.

I hope you know how thankful I am for you - for your endless kindness and generosity, for singing in the car, for giving me space to exist alongside you and know that I'm not alone. I never manage to find the words, but each time you drop me home and make me wait for us to finish belting the song that's currently playing, I'm smiling so much inside. You often say that you don't deserve me, but in those moments all I can think is that I don't deserve you, because you are magical Imi. You're a force of gorgeous energy making the most of everything and hugging the world with your words. I want you to recognise more than anything how lucky the people you love are to have you. I'm so grateful that our friendship didn't get left behind, and that we have each other. We'll continue to lead together, and I know that goodness is planning on following us.

This is your year, and beyond that, your life - I'm so fortunate that I get to watch you thrive and smash it.

Love from your best friend, for good,

Emily xxx

with Imogen, photographed by Amelia

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