You write letters to say the big important things, emails to ramble about friends you’ve bumped into that are shagging other friends and drunken proclamations you may or may not have made, and text messages to share a train of thought, an incomplete idea, a small laugh and to remind people that you are still alive, somewhere. At an international rate of 20p a thought it was well worth it for me to continue to speak with my friends like they were just a river away instead of an ocean.
Posh John and I were comfortable old friends in a way that wasn’t meant to last, too much comfort too quickly meant it was easy to take our relaxed relationship to the level of forgetting to ever speak and then suddenly finding that you are no longer friends.
But in New York, that relationship was suddenly important, to have a casual contact with someone that was Home for me.
Sitting on a set of steps waiting for work it was easy to imagine him doing the same when he texted me the news that he hadn’t been keeping up on his bike maintenance and had discovered that he only had 7 of the possible 16 teeth left on his cog. I laughed, bit my nail, and promptly broke off a piece of my own tooth.
You couldn’t see it, it was the back part of a tooth, but as I went on through the day talking to receptionists and delivering packages I couldn’t stop running my tongue over the new rough patch, and my lack of self control was beginning to really annoy me. Any lack of attention on my part would send my tongue curiously moving back and forth over that broken tooth, it was irritating and it was also beginning to make my tongue hurt, but I couldn’t stop myself. Something would have to be done.
I ran into Bambi at a messenger center in mid-town, and in a flash of brilliance I asked him if he had a metal file.
He said he did, and that evening I found myself in Bushwick at his warehouse, borrowing it.
I had met Bambi before, he was sitting at the end of the bridge waiting for work, drinking coffee and I stopped and introduced myself in a way that would eventually be parodied by everyone I know; I stuck out my and and said “Hi, I’m Nhatt”. In a city where everyone is so concerned with being cool, having some random rookie come strait up to you and say hi to one of the cities fastest and least humble couriers was not an everyday occurrence.
It was also not an everyday occurrence to have a London bike messenger attempting to file her front tooth down while leaning backwards with a hand mirror under the only decent light in your apartment.
If my introduction didn’t win me a life long friend then I think getting that chance to watch someone file their own tooth did it, that and a few beers. Bambi and I have never spent as long in one place together as we did while I lived in new york, but we are inseparable in spirit. A tooth that broke in sympathy with a friend’s broken teeth half a world away cemented a friendship that would be made up of text messages and 20p a thought conversations for the rest of my life.