Arty Arta – By @dj_sbex
By Sophie Becker
It started with a phone call. Long distance, I thought. One I expected to reach all the way across the Atlantic.
Was Arta still living in Montreal or back in bustling Brooklyn?
As I sat there, phone in hand, I realised there was so much I didn’t know about Arta. Eight years ago there was nothing I didn’t know about Arta. We were inseparable throughout the darkest days of our teenage years. Thrown together by our mutual love of art in a school full of scientists, we lived out our A-Level days in the art room sharing every intimate detail of our lives.
Life has since come between us. After school she moved far away to New York and I went to Scotland. While I moved back to London, she made a life on the other side of the world with no intention to ever moving back to this side of the world. We’ve chatted occasionally over various online channels but I was shocked to work out that we hadn’t actually spoken in over six years.
About to press send on the usual meaningless ‘Merry Christmas’ Facebook message I remembered that phoning an old friend was on Marc’s list of New Year’s challenges. My phobia of speaking on the phone instantly made my stomach flip. I realised that was the reason to do it.
So a few days later I worked up the courage to make that phone call to my old pal who I assumed was still in her far away land. Arta picked up the phone and screamed in disbelief – she’d been wanting to call too but was afraid it had been too long with no contact. She wasn’t in Montreal or Brooklyn after all; she was in Edgware for a couple of weeks – only a few stops away from me on the Northern line.
My phone phobia instantly melted away at the sound of her familiar voice and the call turned into a drink or four at our local pub. Sat in two leather armchairs by the warm glow of a fire, surrounded by tinsel and fairy lights, I felt the most “Christmassy” I had in the past decade. This is what Christmas is about as an adult. Reconnecting with those life has taken you away from throughout the year.
Even though I love every minute of it, becoming all-consumed by SCA has made me lose sight of my life as a whole slightly. Sitting around at home without the daily comfort of St Matthew’s Church, I’d started to feel lost. Almost as if I couldn’t remember who I really was before September.
Speaking to Arta and reminiscing about all the weird wonderful memories we’d shared as teenagers forced me to finally switch off from SCA life. I felt grounded again and re-found my sense of purpose which had led me to SCA in the first place. Hearing about the quirks of her distant life inspired and recharged me.
Arta’s quite the dot. I discovered she’s now a professional illustrator soon hoping to become a tattoo artist that travels the world. Like me, she feels no desire to be more like the swarms of our school friends that are now doctors, lawyers and bankers – their lives formulaically laid out before them. She told stories of misogynistic housemates, green card marriages and traumatic Tinder dates.
Weirdest of all I discovered she had met Alysha in 2013. They’d had a conversation about me that year as Alysha told Arta that she was moving to St Andrews to study Art History too. Ironically, our paths only crossed this year. It made the world feel reassuringly massive and tiny all at once.
For the first time in a while, perspective returned to my life and I felt at peace (for a bit). Thank you, Arta!