I first met Sarah Davis in September 2018. I had just arrived in Cambridge to study a Classics MPhil which, to my horror, made me a Fresher. Again. Walking into the hubbub of Eddie’s CR, I was uneasy. I faced the daunting prospect of making new friends, forming meaningful bonds, ‘finding my people’. Little did I know that luck was on my side.
Sarah was my assigned ‘Buddy’ – one of the current students who had signed up to personally welcome a small selection of the incoming Freshers, acting as their first port of call during those frenetic first few weeks. I walked up to her, grinning my biggest grin. ‘Hi! Are you Sarah? I’m Elsie! I think you’re my Buddy?’ I gestured to what she was wearing – ‘BANANA’ was emblazoned on a bright blue T-shirt. In her email she had told us that she would wear it so we would easily recognise her, so she would stand out. It was a nifty trick; it certainly helped me navigate the sea of strangers. But she was a beacon without it.
I was first struck by how carefree she was. From the flicks and flips of her hair to the sloshing and swinging of her huge water bottle, Sarah had a lightness and a dynamism that made my first-day jitters vanish. She introduced herself and gave the small group of us of a personalised tour of college, sprinkling useful information and general facts with a generous pinch of her dry, self-deprecating humour. I don’t actually remember anything she said. (Sorry, Sarah!) But I do remember her loud, full-belly laugh. And I remember being baffled by the revelation that we were the same age. She brimmed with common sense and innate confidence; she seemed so sure of herself. That self-assurance wasn’t the only reason I doubted we would have much in common! For one, she was cool. Rizzo from Grease cool – the best kind of cool. And cool has never been an adjective I’d use to describe myself, then or now. She had tattoos, and a child; I have neither. I remember thinking that I’d never met anyone quite like her. I still think that today.
Our first proper conversation happened on the sidelines of the astroturf at Trumpington Sports Centre. It turned out that we have a lot in common. We bonded initially over a mutual dedication to cheering on Eddie’s football team on Sundays. Not only that – we were both furious at the world’s injustices. These two passions were enough to spark a friendship. We chatted as the boys kicked the ball up and down in the cold and wet. Quickly, we became firm friends. Whether trifling or profound, our conversations were often the highlight of my week. From that very first match, I was completely myself around her.
My first year at Eddie’s was full of highs and lows, and as the pressures of my academic and personal life grew more intense, I naturally gravitated towards her. Most of my memories from my first year at Eddie’s were made with Sarah by my side. Standing on the sidelines, I may still not have learned the offside rule (sorry, Savvas!) but I have learned about the real Sarah. She has proved to be a whole lot more than Rizzo-cool. She is fiercely loyal, loving, protective. She is my closest confidante. She consoles me and celebrates with me. Today, our friendship isn’t confined to the sidelines, but we are still united as the Eddie’s ‘Soccer Moms’. We share secrets and clothes. We value one another’s advice. She is determined, impulsive, intelligent. She has an acerbic wit and a palpable energy. She is a brilliant friend, daughter, sister, and mother. She calls me out and lifts me up. I admire her immensely. I trust her completely. I feel so fortunate that such a remarkable young woman is supporting me every day. Writing about Sarah seemed to me the perfect way to celebrate 50 Years of Women at Eddie’s. She is a true testament to the college.
She is the sea, and nobody owns her.