For all those of you who are wondering, this is indeed the first draft of How I Met Your Mother, except for that nobody dies and Tom is not really the mother but he is more like Barney – he high-fives himself.
Brace yourselves for a story that involves music, travelling, friendship and ice cream – yet again. Best friends always come with ice cream! Not only carrying ice cream, but also covered in ice cream.
I was travelling the South Island of NZ with Janneke at the time when we reached the colourful quaint town of Wanaka. If you asked any traveller about this particular town, they would describe it as a smaller version of Queenstown. This comparison serves no purpose if you’ve never been to Queenstown, but just picture it as this action-packed town by a lake framed by a dramatic backdrop of mountains and valleys.
The hostel we stayed at in Wanaka had a patio with bicycles, plants, tables and benches which facilitated socialisation. There I was with Janneke having lunch and discussing our plans for the evening while discreetly admiring this backpacker sitting in the garden playing the ukulele. And yes, by discreetly I mean bluntly, shamelessly and obviously. We were so interested in him not only because he was a magnificent player and the music was enthralling, but also because during all of Janneke’s travels, she had been carrying her ukulele around although she would never dare to play it – except for that one time in the car where there was nowhere to escape to.
Maybe because we were watching him too intently, or because he is a very friendly person that speaks to everybody or because I’m a shameless Latina that freaks people out that becoming too familiar with strangers, the truth is that right then and there is when he sat at our table and we all our had our first conversation. And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Louis. Never a more unbreakable threesome had existed despite the distance.
But our friendship didn’t start off the right foot. I joked about him being a hippie troubadour and that didn’t go down well. I blame Janneke, she always laughs at my bad jokes so I get a false sense of confidence. But to be fair, she saved the day by letting him into our debacle: ice cream or chocolate. We couldn’t make up our minds. And chocolate ice cream wouldn’t cut it.
However that debacle led us to talk about our habits and adventures so far, when the conversation took a weird turn:
Janneke: “While we were camping in Abel Tasman, Claudia filmed us when we were sleeping”
Me: “It was a joke. You can see me laughing at the end of the take”
Janneke: “That was an evil laugh. It looked like she was about to murder us”
Tom: “Even creepier”
Me: “It was part of a documentary”
Tom: “The Blair Witch Project?”
Me: “The Act of Killing”
Tom: “Will you marry me?” In an attempt to weird me out.
Me: “That depends. Do you have a Kiwi passport?”
A match made in Heaven. Before you get the wrong idea, Tom and I are just friends. He is yet to realise he is in love with me.
Just picture Tom’s face right now. PRICELESS!
Janneke and I came back from shopping with the biggest jar of ice cream you can ever imagine along with three chocolate bars. We couldn’t make up our minds so we took it all. We were aiming for a diabetic coma. This would either be our finest moment or our final one.
Instead, we just made tons of friends at the patio by offering them free ice cream. Backpackers are suckers for free food. That can be your bargaining chip while travelling. If you want someone to give you a foot massage, offer them free food. If you need someone to talk to, offer them free food. If you need someone to climb up a mountain with you, offer them free food. If you are feeling lusty, don’t offer them free food, don’t buy them a drink; just go on Tinder. Have some respect for yourself.
The next day, when I woke up, I went to the patio to wait for Janneke, and there I found Tom reading a book. He said hi back to me, but I told him to finish his book since he seemed to be on the last pages. He went back to reading and I interrupted him again by saying the most random thing and then apologised and encouraged him to keep on reading, just to interrupt him again, then told him to keep reading. Then I started to say something and he said: “I’ll just finish this last page and we’ll talk about anything you want”.
“I’m all ears,” he said after shutting his book, but then Janneke showed up, so I said “never mind” and left for the kitchen to make breakfast.
Tom and some of his friends had to leave that night so we made plans to meet them in Queenstown, the party town. There we went on a pub crawl. I think Bon Jovi should write a song about it because that was one wild night. To start off, Janneke and I already had half a bottle of vodka in our systems even before the pub crawl started. Anyhow, that is the right town to get your freak on. Janneke and I ended up on a stage and then we exited the stage by getting a piggy back ride from some Italian backpackers.
Tom also ended up lifting me for a photo, therefore I’m still waiting for him to send me the bill for a cracked spine.
It seemed like Tom and I were going to be Best Friends Forever, but then something unexpected happened. The Killers’ Mr Brightside song came on the radio. You know that sound of the guitar that introduces the song and suddenly you get this rush that electrifies your body from the bottom to the top? Well maybe it’s just me. I have a really strange reaction to that song. It’s terrifying. I start shaking and jumping. It’s the equivalent to an epileptic attack but vertical. Janneke has seen it but she loves me no matter what. Tom, however, had been my friend for two days and this might be too much for him to handle.
Once the song was over and I had scared the Hell out of all those drunk backpackers, Tom comes up to me and says: “I also like The Killers.”
The next day, we had to say goodbye to Tom but we stayed in touch with him on Messenger. We created a group chat and spoke to him almost every day.
Half a year later, Tom asked me what I had been up to and I said: “working and writing”. Then he showed genuine interest in reading a few chapters of my book and offered to send me a piece of something he had written in return. After all these years, I couldn’t get my best friends to read my material, but then there was Tom, my almost new friend who was actually willing to.
I also mentioned a project I had been dreaming of for the past 3 years. The project involved a website for backpackers. Without a second thought, Tom agreed to be my partner and showed immense enthusiasm and faith in this project. A couple of days later, I wake up on the day of my birthday with a message from Tom and a birthday present: the first ever blog post on the site.
This has been a dream come true for me and I’m excited to see what it is going to become. I don’t think Indie Road would be possible at all without the multiply-talented, hilarious, crazy old Tom.