Old Flames

 

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Last Saturday was Blast from the Past Day, it seems as not only did I bump into an old friend I hadn’t seen for at least a decade, I then got a message from my college crush, who I haven’t seen for closer to twenty.

Seeing my friend was good, easy and a happy surprise. She has twins now. They’re sweet.

The college crush thing is a whole other kettle of fish. There’s a chance he might read this (if you do, E, I don’t mind you knowing all this stuff) and so might my husband, who hopefully is used to me telling my stories by now.

When I was 17 I went to sixth form college like most 17 year olds do. On day one, as I entered my new form room, I spotted E and was quickly smitten. He had long surfery hair, was wearing a band t-shirt (Carter USM, I recall) and the kind of smile you remember, 20 years on.

Miraculously (in my eyes), I had caught E’s eye too and even more miraculously, he was open about liking me, unlike other boys I had known up until this point.

I was very naive then. I had barely been kissed (but kissed enough), let alone handed over my virginity to anybody who would take it and was something of a hot mess. Hey, this was Bexhill-on-Sea, circa 1994, and there wasn’t a lot going on there, besides warm bottles of Merrydown in the park.

I spend all my time wondering if I would ever feel comfortable in my own skin so when I got this attention it was nice. I was still very awkward about talking to the opposite sex and so when I think back to this period I imagine myself as mute. I must have got some words out though because we managed to arrange a date.

I’m a romantic now but back then, before I had tasted a little bit of love (and the subsequent heartaches), I was much worse. I was probably galloping way ahead of date one, planning future weddings, children, life as childhood sweethearts (sort of).

We did have that date. We kissed for hours in his bedroom. He played the drums. We had dinner at his parents house (where he also resided, natch) and watched Top of the Pops (Naomi Campbell had a pop career then). When it was time, he walked me to the corner of his road where my mum picked me up.

While we waited, he asked me what I wanted and I said – damn my naivete! – a boyfriend. This is where he told me, nicely, that he wasn’t on the same page. The Saturday night after our date, I went to a disco and kissed someone else.

And that was that.

Fast forward a few years and Facebook was a thing. I was in Bangkok and somehow, bizarrely, so was E. I was with my horrible ‘boyfriend’ then and E wanted to meet for a drink somewhere off the Khao San Road. I didn’t even have the strength to ask Horrible if he’d mind, saving myself the lecture.

And besides, I didn’t want E to see how fat I had got. Stupid to let that hold me back then but it was the excuse I clung to. Now I am more in tune with myself, I would be more inclined to think “Fuck it if he doesn’t like me”.

I can’t remember what I said to E, probably something about it not being appropriate and that, again, was that.

Every so often we’ll comment on each others lives, send the odd how are you message. Over Christmas there was something about a coffee in our hometown if we were back there at the same time.

And then the message: I’m in town, coffee? Or, rather, “Can you invite me for coffee?” (Typical!). I did invite him but asked G first. Common courtesy and all that. You don’t sneak off with boys you used to fancy when you’re in a happy relationship, right? G took the piss and said it was cool.

It didn’t happen in the end. E had to have an emergency appendectomy. It was poetic really and I’m sort of glad. Not about his physical pain, obviously.

I’ve never been one for meeting up with exes and being all buddy buddy with them. I think it’s odd. Maybe this is because, until now, I was never really friends with them to begin with. I learned the lesson I guess, what kind of foundations happiness should be build upon.

So I might see E again one day, and it would be nice. His intentions are purely friendly, I have no doubt about that. We were never meant to be more than. He’s not even the one who got away. G is The One Who Got Away and Then Came Back for Good, why would I want another?

But it is whimsical to look back and think about who you were then. Who we were.

I remember more than I imagined I would. I remember the feeling of being looked at like I was something special for the first time. I remember the old camera I used to carry around with me all the time, that I lost just before that date.

I remember walking down the hallway in front of him and accidentally, mortifyingly walking into a wall and damn near knocking myself out. Most of all I remember the brief flash of pain when things went differently to how I had wanted them to and how much I enjoyed the idea of yearning. Of analysing every look and every word; and then how easy it was to get over it.

I stole a photograph of you, E, from the darkroom in the art department. Somebody else had taken it. It’s still somewhere amongst my souvenirs of life, stapled to a Dogs Go Woof flyer, from your band days.

I hope you don’t mind me writing about you. I was feeling nostalgic.

Image sourced via Google.

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