Everyone seems to give an awfully big damn about differences, now that I've grown up and left home. They're forever talking about differences in race and sexuality and wealth and religion and the colour socks you wear. That kind of thing. In fact, people are so engrossed with comparing and contrasting race and sexuality and the colour of each other's socks that they choose to forget that there are only two types of people on this Earth: the dreamers and the realists. The two need each other to survive in this beautifully damned world. The dreamers are high-flyers but they need the realists to stop them from flying into the sun. And the realists need the dreamers to help get their feet off the floor once in a while.
But that's the thing, see. At the moment, it feels that all the dreamers are flying so close to the sun that there aren't any left to help pick me off the ground. So here I am. Stuck.
My best friend, Steve, is hunched over a crumbling lilac note-book, filling out the details of Mrs. Doherty of 23 Normandy Close, who needs the buttons on her husbands beige dinner jacket sewn-up for a fund-raising ball, don't-you-know. Steve is a dreamer, the kind that comes out of the womb with starlight in their eyes- but Steve's always known his purpose. When Steve had the tiniest inkling that he was gay, he didn't shy away and try girls out. He embraced it. He's what I need right now, ever since Heather decided to chase her dream and focus on the Juliard audition that keeps her away from clubs and the ground that we've always braved together. Don't get me wrong, she's my best-friend- ever since Year 2 when she won my colouring pencils back off of Bobby Felton. "You're weird," she observed at the time, inspecting the multi-coloured ribbons in my hair and my over-sized glasses, "I like you." But music is everything to Heather... and it just isn't to me. But now I have Steve. And maybe he is a little bit crazy. But maybe he is the most sane out of the two of us.
The evening sun is creeping across the desk, sampling each grain of wood on our makeshift desk. It passes over Steve, baptising him in a golden glow. Even when he is busying himself over work and the studio and our business, he is still flying and dreaming. I walk over to the mannequin in the corner, whose gaze I've been putting off for most of today. I stare at it bluntly, directing every inch of concentration into the various coloured and patterned cloths draped over its shoulder. "Alright," I say, squeezing my eyes tight shut. "When I open my eyes, you will have transformed into the most beautiful garment ever to have entered London Fashion week. You will silence Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein and Alexander McQueen... even though he is dead. The very essence of your being will send every Vogue and Sunday Times supplement editor into a heavenly daze and for years to come, people will be speaking of your awesomeness. Are you ready dress?" I open my eyes. The various coloured and patterned cloths draped over the mannequin's shoulder are still there, in all their glorious drapiness. "Urgggh!" I let out a roar and slump onto the floor, dragging down a piece of material with me, an African style sample, meant for an Urban-Ethnic infusion. Steve taps my shoulder and offers his hand, which I take. At least there's one dreamer that I can count on.
With a few clicks on the laptop, The Kink's "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" bellows softly across the back studio. I pull up a chair next to Steve's and lean forward. I let tiredness envelope me. "They can all bugger off," I grumble and slump forward.
"Here, here." Steve says and clicks his biro down onto the desk in agreement.
"How is it that people like Charlotte Clarke in all her drabness can make her collection into London Fashion week and we're stuck here, making alterations and sticking pins into mannequins? Life is relentless. Oh God, I sound like a miserable old woman." Steve chuckles and I join in with a kind of smiling harmony. "I don't know, Amy. But I'd rather have a sturdy rock like you for a friend than Charlotte Clarke." He replies, the back of his pink tartan shirt ruffling as he sinks into his chair. It's a fail-safe answer. "So I'm a miserable old woman and a rock? Yey me." I groan and Steve chuckles again. "Speaking of miserable old women, Christian is coming around for dinner tommorow." I motion with my hands, asking if I should leave them to it, but he shakes his head.
"How's it going between you two?" I croak, swivelling a curtain of hair over my shoulder. Steve pinches the skin between his nose and closes his eyes. "No comment." He says bluntly so I drop it. I don't want to bring him away from the clouds and the silver-lining-y stuff.
Because he's mad and gay and beautiful and a dreamer. Steve's my dreamer. I've always loved stories because no matter how much the people in them change afterwards, the story will never change. And this is our story. The story of how me and Steve found each other.
The realist and the dreamer.