I fell in love

once... just the once if we're talking proper heart stopping, blood pumping, stomach churning love. The kind of love that takes your breath away at the mere mention of their name. I'd turned 12 just 9 days before; he was 14 and I literally fell in love at first sight (so that answers the question anytime anyone asks if I believe in love at first sight!). It was one of those typical spring evenings; cloudy, damp with a slight mist hanging in the air, the orange street lights creating an weird type of glow. If he had asked me there-and-then to marry him I would have said "yes" and happily run off to anywhere in the world with him. He didn't and never has since - not that I would now for I soon discovered he doesn't like the cold, and I can't stand the heat. We were opposites in every sense of the word. Didn't stop how I felt though. 

He was never interested in me; I was just the annoying young relation of his best mate, but I think somewhere, at some point he did warm to me a little. We spent an Easter Sunday together watching the Sound of Music (his choice!) whilst chowing down on easter eggs. In his defence I don't think he planned on spending the day on his own with me but his friends (who were meant to be coming over earlier) didn't arrive until later in the evening. I didn't care though; I got to spend a day on my own with him. 

One autumn evening in 1985, not long after I had split from my first proper boyfriend (who was also a friend of his - not through choice I don't think though, they inherited each other from a mutual friend) he kissed me for the first time. I remember the 20 minutes leading up to, and a few seconds after; the rest of the evening (the rest of the week) passed by in a complete blur. For 3 years I'd only ever dreamed of the moment, never in a million years actually expecting it to happen, so when it did (and it was so perfect) I felt as though my life would never be the same again, and in a way, it never has been, because if I thought I'd been in love with him before, that night my love moved to an even higher level - something I'd not have believed was possible. It never came to anything and within a few months he'd fallen out with my relation and moved on to pastures new.

Fast forward 3 years and I'm waiting for a bus home from work one day and there he was; also waiting at the same bus stop. Every feeling I'd had came flooding back and hit me smack in the face. We met up, we hooked up a couple of times, then I made the mistake of introducing him to a friend of mine and before I knew what was happening he was living with, and engaged to her. I wanted to beat her to a pulp with a big stick; it wasn't the first time she had stolen a guy from me, or made a move on one she knew I liked but he was different. He wasn't just some random guy I might have liked a little, or could have had a crush on. He was always "The One". Having to see them together used to kill me a little more every day, then one day they were driving by (he was taking her to work) and he stopped to offer me a lift. He dropped her off and it was just me and him in the car. It was a wonderful half-an-hour. Sporadically he'd pick me up and we'd drop her off and he'd drive me to work. On one of those drives he told me he wasn't happy. What was I to do? She was a friend (yeah, I know she'd not behaved like one but he made the choice to date her, so obviously wasn't interested in me) so I told him he had to do what was right for him but maybe he should chat to her about how he was feeling. A few weeks later he picked me up and they were over. Oh how my heart leapt. Not because I thought it meant he had suddenly realised he was madly in love with me, but because I didn't go to bed each night knowing he was just a few houses away going to bed with her - the time they were together was so hard for me. 

What happened next took me by surprised because we hooked up and for a few weeks I let myself believe that maybe, just maybe, it was the start of something. How gullible and na├»ve I was, for one evening we had plans to go out with my relation and some other friends. I was the last to be picked up and when I got in the car and asked where he was - as he should have been with others already - I got told he was "on a date". My heart broke that night and I realised what an absolute fool I had been. Sadly (or should that be stupidly) it never changed how I felt about him. Everything I'd felt on the April evening in 1982, I still felt on that late summer evening in 1988. He didn't just go on a date either; he ghosted me. I never heard a word from him. Not even an "I'm sorry, I thought you knew it never meant anything". 

I moved on, got on with life. Met another guy (who turned out the be the worst mistake of my life) and made a new group of friends so I could slowly pull myself away from anyone connected with him. 

1994 arrives, September, and I am with my fiance at my relations wedding. He (the fiance) is telling me as we're stood in church "this will be us next" and I believe it; we were in the process of buying a house, had all our stuff packed ready for the contract signing. During the interim bit (all weddings have them) after we'd eaten and before the party night was set up, the fiance popped out to get some money from the cashpoint (he was gone a really long time; I later learned he was visiting his 16 year old girlfriend in the hospital just up the road from where we were at the reception!) and I found myself wandering over to where my Mum was sitting with other family members and someone was passing around photo's of the hen do. I sat down next to my Mum who handed me a photo saying "remember him?". What a question. Remember him? No mother, why would I remember the man who had crushed me she badly by standing me up 6 years prior. He'd been in the same club the hen lot had been in and so ended up in some of the photos. It hadn't even occurred to me that he wasn't at the wedding, seeing how he had been my relatives best friend and as far as I was aware they were still good friends. 

The fiance came back and later that evening with the party in full swing I headed up to the bar to grab everyone a drink. I'm chatting to an old friend of my relatives, and a good friend of my best friend too, catching up on how things are going for each other - as you do - when I sense someone standing to the left of me. Determined not to let someone else steal the barman from under me (he'd already overlooked me twice) I turned to see who my new contender for his attention might be, to find myself staring in the eyes of Mr Heartbreaker. I felt my heartrate speed up drastically, my palms went all sweaty, all I could think was "is my hair ok, do I look fat in this" and "oh my god, I didn't know he would be here". All those same feelings I'd had 12 years previously, before I was even a teenager, when my Dad was still alive, and my fiance wasn't cheating on me, came flooding back and hit me smack between the eyes. I didn't dance once with my fiance that night; I did dance with the love-of-my-life several times and remember during one slow song him saying to me "I know him" nodding his head towards the fiance "he lived round the corner from me. How come you're allowed to be with him"?. I wasn't until I was back at home later I realised what a weird thing that was to say. 14 days later I realised I was being cheated on, packed up the fiances stuff, dumped it down his sisters and that relationship was well-and-truly over. I was upset but not in the way I really should have been so that kind of proved to me it was never meant to be; had I known then what I know now I'd have cut the bastards balls off, pickled them and kept everything of his I'd moved out, for he stitched me up with money, to the point where even now, some 28 years later I am still paying for it. 

A friend told me the following year - by which time I was seeing Louis and quite happy with my life - that she'd written to my long-lost-love pretending to be me when she knew I'd split with the fiance, declaring my love for him. Apparently she thought she was doing me a favour. I don't know if he ever received it (I didn't even know where he lived, and for all I did know he could have been married, or with the mother of his daughter (not long after he stood me up he got a girl pregnant; that much I heard through the grapevine)) but if he did I hope he know it wasn't from me - if you're reading this it had nothing to do with me - because if I'd been crazy enough to want to risk him ditching me and breaking my heart again I'd have tracked him down myself, and asked him face-to-face to walk into my life just so he could walk out of it again, leaving me to fix another patch to the heart he so easily fractured. 

Over the years I thought about him, often, I am only human after all. I fell in love with another - a love nowhere near as intense but it was enough for me to take the risk and become someone's fiancee again (he too screwed someone else behind my back, this time a girl he worked with, whose father I worked with so that was a joyful time). From him I hooked up with Louis and found it was possible to love another soul in a non-conventional way, for the love I had for him was different to any I've had before, or will have again. I connected with him on a spiritual level and learned to understand what people mean when they talk about soul mates for I truly believe he was mine. Yet we were never a couple in the conventional sense of the word. He saw other women, I saw other men, neither of us got jealous about it (not that I do jealously anyway). I think if he hadn't died we would have eventually ended up together - the last conversation we ever had he did say to me "you do know we'll get married one day and live out the rest of our lives together, don't you?" We'll never know if he was right, or not but I like to think he was. 

During the summer of 1997 Lou and I were floating around meeting up now-and-again but he had a girlfriend on the go and I was kind of flirting with the idea of a guy named Paul who'd let it be known he was interested. I had a great job as a relief assistant manager for a company that had 7 different shops in the local area, 6 of which I loved working in (I took over as full-time manager of one-of-them eventually). The 7th though I hated. Everything about it filled me with dread. The manager was a bitch, the shop was on 2 levels; it was dark, it was dingy, and it was so full of tat you had to breath in to get down the aisles so when I got my shifts through and saw I was covering the till operators holiday the following week I got that real sinking feeling. All weekend before (according to my bestie, her fella and Paul) I was unbearably miserable and they were at the point of spiking my cup of tea with something to bring a smile to my face. So there I was in this awful building, standing at a counter ringing up customers purchases. It was a particularly quiet day, which for some reason the manager believed to be my fault. The whole ground floor was surrounded by glass so I should have been able to look out at the world beyond, yet because of how much crap she'd piled into the windows my only contact with the outside world was being able to view people walking by the open single doorway entry.  One of the other relief staff covering a shop floor worker did bring me over a garden gnome that had been dropped on the floor, and a tube of glue. I spent an hour fixing that cheap bit of pottery and was mighty proud of what a neat repair job I'd done. I created a little plinth for him to stand proud on, and popped a little sign around his neck about how he needed a good home. I was at that counter for 5 hours before finally it was time for a tea break. Those 15 minutes I was off the shop floor for were the quickest of the day and before I even had time to think I was back behind that counter. Then it got a little busier, things were looking up, and before I knew what was happening there was a queue. I worked my way through everyone, smiling and chatting as I did so, concentrating only on the customer I was serving at the time. My previous customer left and I looked away for a second, turning back to find the price on the item on the counter, ringing it in the till, looking up to ask the customer for the money and there he was; standing in front of me. I served him with butterflies raging throughout my stomach and body, a smile spreading across my face. We had a brief chat - as best you can when there is a cue of people still waiting. I was buzzing so much, turning into some kind of crazy woman, I spun around, caught the gnome and it shattered into a thousand pieces. My next break couldn't come soon enough so I could call my best friend - she wasn't in when I did call but that didn't stop me from filling her answer machine (all 14 minutes of it). When I got round to hers that night her fella, and Paul, both left because they didn't know how to cope with me being the excitable, happy person I was because they'd never seen that side of me. A couple more times that week I caught sight of him walk by, then my time in that store was up and I was off somewhere else. Seeing him that day did make the rest of the week easier to cope with though so I am extremely grateful to him for that. 

A year later I saw him for the final time - in the flesh at least. I was walking from my parking spot across the green in front of my besties flat heading towards her place; it was lunchtime and as I was working just around the corner from her place I'd popped round to sit and eat my lunch in peace. I clocked him come out of the ground floor flat adjacent to her block and almost passed out, because my brain screamed "oh my god, he's moving in, HE'S MOVING IN". He wasn't, instead just helping someone else move in. I made a point to try and leave as I knew he would be outside and timed it perfectly, right up to the moment my besties boyfriend shouted out the window "are you cooking tonight?" making it look as though I was living there, with him. 

That happened a quarter century ago yet today is his birthday and even now I still wish I could send him a Happy Birthday message (I did once 5 years ago; he never responded and I finally had to accept that he is not part of my world and I'm not part of his). A mutual friend tagged me in a post he'd shared on FB once and he could have chosen to ignore her but instead commented "happy times" which made me smile and that's what he does, without even knowing he does it, even now, he makes me smile. Yes, he broke my heart but he's given me far more smiles through the years than not and one day I hope he realises just what a positive impact he's had on my life. 

He needn't worry about me chasing him down now though; he shares a facebook page with his wife. To me that is quite nausea inducing, and something most couples grow out of by the age of 10. It's as if he either doesn't trust her or is staking his claim on her and neither of those things should be encouraged. If that's the kind of man he is then maybe I was lucky he wasn't interested in me!