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Where The Fuck Is Julia?

February 17, 2020

A morning like any other. Having my coffee and scrolling through Facebook. A mindless daily activity. Until a post appears and there is a moment where reality fractures for a second and my brain cannot process what it is seeing. A chasm between certainty and disbelief.  A brief moment of dizziness followed by nausea, then dread. The face staring back at me from a missing person’s flyer is familiar. But how can that be?

This is the kind of thing that happens to other people. To strangers. Where I can feel sympathetic at a safe remove from my own reality. That’s how life is supposed to work. Right?

Apparently not.

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Julia’s been missing for 8 days and we’re no closer to knowing where she is or what happened than we were when she first disappeared. She has, as they say, vanished without a trace. Where the fuck is she?  That question keeps rattling around my brain. It is the same question that her friends and, I presume, her family keep asking each other.

Yesterday, wandering around the street where she lives, 6 of her childhood friends gathered. We wanted to help. To search. To solve the mystery and bring her home. Of course, we weren’t up for the task. The hills were filled with highly trained search and rescue experts with dogs and the skies were filled with helicopters and drones. We, clad in good intentions and workout clothes better suited to yoga than rappelling down cliffs, turned our search for Julia into a quest to try and put ourselves in the mind of the woman we know, and the girl we grew up with.  And to try and answer for ourselves the question of where the fuck is she?

Each of us has different relationships with Julia, going back nearly 50 years.  We each played roles in her life, and she in ours, at different phases of our lives. For me, she was my closest confidant in my early 20s. The years when the struggle for identity and figuring out what the future held for us were paramount.  The girl I remember was unfailingly kind in the way that reminds you that you are not her equal in this regard. As an artist, her dreams and visions poured out of her into anything she could get her hands or paintbrushes on. She painted the back of my denim jacket with a school of colourful fish. The jacket is long gone now, but over the years, every time I have donned a denim jacket I have seen a split-second flash in my mind’s eye of the one she created for me.

As so often happens, life, geography and years have intervened and the relationship I once treasured has become a fond memory. We live within 30 minutes of each other, but it might as well have been an entire country for the amount of time we spend together as adults. If I didn’t already regret the distance that has existed between my childhood friends and myself, this week has cemented it. Yesterday the six women gathered to find a trace of a treasured friend swore we would not let the years divide us anymore. Wherever the fuck Julia is she has brought us all together.

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Julia is 5′ 7″ with blonde hair and blue eyes. She has the most enchanting and quizzical smile. It’s like when she looks at you she’s letting you know that the universe has made her privy to all your secrets, but she’s not going to mention them. Just know she knows.  If you see her, tell her to come home.