1000+ Coffees with Matt Kulesza

My wonderful friend Matt Kulesza pioneered the '1000+ Coffees' concept in 2014. His initial plan was to have a one-on-one coffee with every single one of his 1000+ Facebook "friends" and over the last three years his posts have reached and resonated with people across the world.

The project has taken him to North America, South-East Asia, across Australia, China, Japan and North Korea, with every coffee becoming a catalyst for reflection and connection.

I was lucky enough to be featured as the second last entry, as Matt plans to venture onto an exciting podcast that details his experiences as a North Korean tour guide.

Matt is my best friend and this post is a marvellous celebration of the last decade of our friendship.

"Coffee #79: Nevena Spirovska (friends on Facebook since March 2008, 199 mutual friends)

One from the archives and because apparently it’s nine years since we became FB friends and also because I promised her I’d do a write up and living in China has drastically reduced my pool of Facebook friends to have coffee with.

This photo was taken back in 2014 at the height of the media insanity around this here lil’ blog. It was about 7am and we were waiting for someone from Channel 9’s the Today Show to turn up for an interview. They didn’t turn up and didn’t bother to tell us but it was still a delightful morning.

I vaguely remember the first time I met Nevena at the wonderfully formative “Stafford street” warehouse I called home in my early 20s. I invited Nevena to join myself and some other friends at a beach house the next day where we planned to spend the weekend. Of course, Nevena with her absolute lust for life enthusiastically agreed to come along.

We were practically strangers at that point, but, evidently, there’s absolutely nothing like spending a weekend in a little fibro shack to make a friendship fast track itself into BFF territory.

My earliest memory I have of Nevena is the two of us standing on the shore of the back beach of Rye, mesmerised by the waves crashing at our feet and having a shared moment of appreciation as the tide would pull itself back out to sea, swirling past our semi-submerged legs and making our feet sink deeper into the sand. I remember excitedly looking at each other, smiling and nodding in approval as each wave crashed and our feet disappeared further into the sand.

Despite the thousands of memories I have of Nevena that would eventually be created over the next decade, in my mind, this was the first memory in the chronicle of our friendship and the pivotal moment that I realised that Nevena was going to be an important person in my life. Almost ten years later, Nevena and I have experienced almost everything two friends can go through together. Nevena is family. She’s attended my family Polish Christmas, comes camping and waterskiing on the Murray River with my family every summer and is truly a sister to me. She even very kindly used to donate her menstrual blood once a month to help fertilize my plants.

When I was inexplicably given two return flights to New York to attend a “promotional coffee event” for this blog, Nevena was the first person I wanted to bring along with me (she got me 1000+ Coffees business cards printed for the trip too) and I’ve been lucky enough to travel to New Zealand, Japan, China, Vietnam, South Korea and North Korea alongside her, collecting a strange series of photos of us leaning against each other that we refer to as “the b2b.”

The amount of hours spent dancing and staying up talking and making ridiculous jokes with our mutual best friends in living rooms all over Melbourne’s inner north is astounding. These times were extremely formative to me not only in developing my friendship with Nevena, but in the way I communicate and my music tastes - all largely due to Nevena’s influence.

It was during one of these late night / early morning living room sessions that Nevena told me she would be running as a candidate in The Australian Sex Party. It seemed so farfetched at the time. But, in true Nevena fashion, she went out and did it without looking back, eventually becoming the Federal Secretary & Campaign Manager for the Australian Sex Party.

Watching Nevena’s successes over the years with the Sex Party has been incredibly inspiring and seeing her be a part of real, social change through her work as the Communications & Campaign Manager for the Melbourne Period Project has been incredible.

The way Nev gets an idea and actually *does it* is truly inspiring, in the last few months I've proudly watched from afar as she's springboarded Full Credit to the Girls (an AFLW merchandise store), Wine Club Melbourne (a food and wine education degustation) Super School (a peer-learning workshop on superannuation management), Quickie (a short-form feminist podcast), written for i-D magazine and more recently started managing upcoming Melbourne DJ Samara Cooper. Seriously, what the hell...

Nevena is my best friend. There’s nothing I wouldn’t trust her with or do for her. She knows me better than I know myself sometimes and we talk almost every day. If I ever get exciting news, she’s the first person I want to tell. She is one of the most dependable, intelligent and switched-on people I know.

Our mutual friend Justin once said to me that when he’s ever unsure about an issue or a political conversation he thinks “what would Nevena think about this,” which usually forms the direction of his opinion. I could not agree more.

Not only does she possess a rare magnetism and genuine charisma, her intelligence, ability to articulate herself and 9 out of 10 times win an argument is second to none. Not only that, anyone who has seen her work on the online TV series Trash Slags or more recently on the panel of ABC's "The Hack" will know how absolutely hysterical and quick-witted she is.

That Nevena wit is mind blowing and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her swiftly take down many a fool in the past. That being said, she is extremely caring, compassionate, empathetic and fiercely loyal to her friends.

When I went through a difficult break up last year, Nevena was there for me instantly. She made me get out of the house and drove me out to eat Afghani food and explore the Dandenongs together to help take my mind off my injured little heart.

She’s been there for me through difficult times at the drop of a hat and always knows the right thing to say. When I finished my degree she bought me celebratory oysters, cheese and wine (three of my favs). In times that I’ve made mistakes, she’s always pulled me up in a non-judgemental, yet assertive way. She’s taught me a lot.

It’s been an honour and a privilege to grow up alongside Nevena this last decade. I’ve seen so many versions of herself as she has of me. We’ve both grown, developed and gone down so many different life roads - sometimes individually but mostly together. I’m not the same person I was when I met Nevena, yet she’s been a rock and remained my best friend this whole time.

I can only be so lucky to have this amazingly special human in my life for another ten years. Although at this point in life we currently live oceans away, Nev's friendship is one of the most important facets of my existence. I’d follow her to the end of the world, des."

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