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.
Back in the early noughties, back when I was still fresh, single and somewhat naive, my friends and I found a delightful source of entertainment called Love@Lycos.
It was the sister site of Lycos.co.uk the search engine and was solely designed for dating, hooking up and lurve.
Set up so you had your own page (sort of like Facebook looked when it first began), you had a visible bio, pictures if you were feeling brave and you could chat to your heart’s content, either privately or publicly (as I recall). Nothing that innovative thinking back but it was user friendly and like, the funnest thing ever!
Now, dating apps are ten a penny and people meet people everyday with no qualms at all. Which is great. But then, to us at least, this new gateway through which we could fearlessly talk to boys (or in my OBFF‘s case, chicks), was wondrous and exciting – we were obsessed.
The three of us, OBFF, B and I would all go to work as normal, Love@Lycos chat all day on the sly, then reconvene in the evenings to compare notes.
During this period in time I wasn’t all that experienced, had had just the one ‘boyfriend’ and a small series of silly liaisons. In fact, I recall (and this may make another full Stories post) having just been dumped by text when we moved to Brighton from our hometown. Text!
So I was snogging boys like crazy, from work and the like, but was definitely looking for love by now (hey, I’ve always been a romantic). Hence pinning my secret hope on the love part of Love@Lycos.
Alas it was not meant to be. I don’t remember any of the boys I talked to now except one, and only because he takes his place on my Map of Life as the Only Boy I Have Ever Met From The Internet/First & Last Blind Date. Which is pretty significant, I feel.
NB: I am using the term ‘boy’ and ‘boys’ throughout this post because that’s what they were then. And I definitely didn’t feel like a woman yet either.
Looking back I can’t believe I was so brave when it comes to meeting RunsWithScissors. He just seemed to be attuned to my sense of humour and seemed to like WondyWoman as much as she liked him (Wondy was my alias).
He ran a website that seemed sarcastic and bright, lived in London and was willing to come to Brighton for the day, I believe he had a sister here. So all systems were go after a few months of back and forth.
Our chatter was not sexual or particularly flirty (that I remember), so perhaps this is where the balls came from to go and meet him IRL. I don’t know.
All I know is that, one Saturday night, I somehow made it to Palace Pier by way of the corner shop, where I stopped to buy a tiny mini-bar sized bottle of Cointreau. As the sickly cough medicine kick of the orange liquid hit the back of my throat, I started to calm down. And with every step I felt better.
When I saw him, I was delighted. I can’t say how he felt when I rocked up, but he didn’t run away or stand me up so it felt positive enough. There was no attraction at all on either side though.
I should point out here that we hadn’t seen each other’s real photographs. This was a blind meet. Almost unheard of now!
He was very good-looking. Dark, piercing blue eyes with great chiseled bone structure. He was also charming and funny and exactly what it had said on the tin.
We spent all night laughing in the Hop Poles and then he came back to mine. When it came time for bed, I leaned in close and whispered minxily: “You can have my bed if you like, I’ll sleep on the sofa…”
And he let me! In the morning, we woke up early, had a cup of tea and then I drove him to his sister’s house.
No kiss, no romance, just a good fun night.
We stayed in touch for a little while longer, but like lots of things around this time, it fizzled out. I’m sure he did, and I hope he has had a lovely life as he was a lovely guy.
What I learned: This may have come around the same time I started to realise you could have male friends that you didn’t kiss. Sounds stupid now, but I used to look at every boy I saw as a potential love interest and that didn’t always make for a good time for either party.
Meeting and getting on well with, but not shagging/snogging the arse off every male I met (or imagining it, more likely) was a new and fruitful discovery. As soon as I got my head around this phenomenon, my life got infinitely better and easier.
So it was a good lesson and a good experience. I haven’t met anybody else off the internet since, except my husband, but I don’t count that as we had already met in the flesh. The Internet facilitated our long distance relationship, but it was not born of it.
I’m all for internet dating. It looks so fun and I love hearing stories about it. My friend recently signed up to Tinder and although, like most things, there is obviously a dark side to it, she finds it hilarious.
Do you have internet dating experience? What are your thoughts?
Today’s task: create a recurring blogging event on your site, and/or make plans to attend a conference. Via Blogging 201: Make the Most of Events (27th October 2014)
I have thought long and hard about the things I like to write about and how I can best turn them into a regular blog feature. What keeps coming up are relationships and the stories that have stemmed from them.
Since this is an organic process, it may evolve into something completely different, but I’ll kick off today with a tale from my dating past. I intend to see if I can get guest bloggers in to share their experiences and their own adventures. I would also like this to become a regular thing, I’ll be aiming for once a fortnight.
So which of the stories from my car crash past shall I start with?
I was 20 when I left home for the first time.
I stayed on a little extra at college to finish a secretarial course and an A Level in Film then decided the last thing I wanted was to continue my education in the classroom. Hardly the academic, I was done with awkward social encounters and eating my lunch in the back café where only the weirdos went. So I allowed myself to be talked into going travelling instead, with a friend I never really liked.
She was the kind of person who would say things like “Aw bless you, you do try” and make you feel like shit. But back then I just felt lucky to have someone willing to do something exotic with me so overlooked most of her heinous personality defects. Anyway, we saved for what felt like years for our trip to Australia and then suddenly we were on our way, 24 hours on a plane and a million light years from home (actually 10,552).
It didn’t take us long to settle in. Full of adventure, we spend good cash on a vintage Toyota Corolla to nip around in. Puke green and years past its sell-by date it ran like a dream. We were free to pursue any avenue we pleased and what pleased us then were boys.
I was on the path to vascular destruction and I didn’t even know it yet. It happened one night, in a pub in the sticks. A cross between the Mos Eisley Cantina and The Slaughtered Lamb, this wasn’t a pub for two bumbling teenagers but still it was where we found ourselves.
Sharon, my obnoxious travelling companion was designated driver and had already zoomed in on some company for the night but I was a shy girl. Spurning the advances of an enthusiastic and burly youth who promised to show me the back of his Ute, I was about to give up until I saw Him. Mine.
All I really remember about that first night was the rain. We’d arrived slap bang in the middle of Monsoon season and NSW was awash.
I had never seen anyone so beautiful. He told me I looked like Ginger Spice (it was the late 90’s) and when we retreated to the Corolla in the car park and he asked if he could kiss me, I let him.
What followed was the most confusing, heart wrenching, shameful, awakening year of my life.
It’s hard to describe how easily I went from being a barely kissed (but not longer virginal) teenager to a woman obsessed with a pretty but not very nice boy. After the romance of our first meeting, I fell hard and I guess my English accent made me just intriguing enough to keep around.
It didn’t encourage him to keep his dick in his pants though and many a night ended in (my) tears because he’d stayed out with someone else. One night he brought home another woman while I was there. In his bed.
This was my first experience of love and frankly, it wasn’t great. But I finally felt alive and thrived on the pain. This Small Town Girl was crazy in love and what did it matter if it felt bad 85% of the time? This was real.
Luckily, I have grown out of the notion that love and pain go hand in hand. For decades I believed that you had to work relentlessly to make all relationships work. I was wrong.
I sometimes count The Australian as my first love but of course I didn’t really find out what that was until much later on. This was my first experience of heartbreak though. If only I had a pound (or Australian dollar) for every tear I shed that year.
I found him on Facebook not long ago and the optimist in me hoped for a paunch, a bald head or no teeth; some light retribution for all the wrongdoing.
Sadly, I can confirm that time has been kind and he’s still flawless.
So that’s the tale of my first heartbreak. I have more stories, and love each and every one. They lead me here afterall.
What do you think of this feature? Could it work do you think? And would you like to contribute?
If you would like to tell us a tale, on anything from relationships to travels, email me: email@example.com.
* A regular blog feature in which I tell stories, sometimes about relationships.