I came across some old journals at the back of my closet the other day. The kind from my 20’s that had me shuddering in horror and turning bright red. Once I finished reading them I hugged them none-the-less, and carefully placed them back, like an offering to an ancient shrine.
It took me back to a time I hadn’t given a second thought to in many years. Back to someone from my past, who I used to spend a lot of my early 20’s thinking about obsessively, naively….
The first time I shrugged his irritating hand from my shoulder I was on a crowded dance floor; under flashes of coloured light. Black dress; eyes sparkling; head spinning.
A brief hostile connection, in the middle of a grungy, underground pub. What a dive.
Paint had peeled off the cracked, yellow, smoked stained walls and feet stuck to the once bright red carpet, now melted black from drunken shoes scuffing their way around sweaty, lithe bodies.
I was in my third year living in the city I had moved to.
My first year of having a job, selling travel. On my own trip of power, with a head set, red lips and dark bangs.
I don’t even know where the anger came from that night.
It felt exactly the way I imagine pots must feel as they boil.
It launched at the base and slowly bubbled its way up to my throat, before I could do nothing but glare at him with detestation and the dark bangs. I remember it as I do, because of how confused I felt with my reaction. I actually liked him a lot, maybe too much. More than I could handle.
We first met in a parallel setting months before. On a crowded dance floor; summer heat radiating off the walls and the floors. Bodies sticky with sweat once again. My girlfriend and I had taken haven under a giant industrial fan, as we sipped our drinks and checked our red lips. I didn’t even notice him approach me before he had. Suddenly he was just there. Smiling wide, shirt loud, voice soft.
The Hawaiian Palm Trees on his shirt and the effects of the drink in my hand, had me feeling brave enough to say what did I have to lose? I ignored my girlfriend’s eyes rolling all around, upset that he had dared talk to us. I could do nothing but focus on his warm eyes and smile at his certitude. He told me he had been watching me from afar for a while. I had been noticed; admired. He had a crush, just like the movies.
The rest, as they say is history.
That first night ended in him throwing tiny rocks at my bedroom window yes, but our time together over the following years ended with him throwing gigantic rocks at my heart, just as determinedly.
The weeks after the window, he serenaded me with a guitar and song. He showed up in odd moonlit places, on shoes with retractable tiny wheels, like skates..not quite.
Every word, every smile, every tap on my shoulder; It was clear, he was falling. My inexperience and fear had me fighting against the magic of it all. So I pulled away. I did what all 13 year old’s trapped inside 20 year old’s bodies do.
I ran for the hills and I hid. I told him ‘no’ a million times over, while inside I was screaming ‘yes’.
I didn’t understand the complex feelings and sensations burning through my body.
The way it sizzled under my skin.
The world faded away, blurred almost whenever he appeared; like a drug. There had been other boys, but nothing quite like this.
The way I would always watch for him to enter a crowded room. It was more than just a dull butterfly’s flutter; it was electric and intense and without my headset and supervisors badge, I had no idea how to control it.
That is why suddenly, in the middle of a grungy dance floor, black dress and dark bangs.. despite wanting to yell at the top of my lungs that I wanted to run away with him and live happily ever after. I instead flicked his hand away and yelled at him to leave my shoulder and my heart alone.
Despite this latest display of my indignant efforts, inevitably, we would always end up somewhere, intertwined. A chemical reaction I could never douse.
Until, it was all gone, just as suddenly. He stopped tapping my shoulder; stopped making my skin burn.
The initial game grew mundane for him. The chase was over. The rabbit caught.
He was suddenly too busy for a relationship; too focused on work. Having me whenever he wanted me, he was able to insist on casual connections. He went from being him, to being me, and I went from being me…to being him in a cat and mouse state. The only difference being he wasn’t confused, he knew what he wanted now and it wasn’t a love story with me. I also wasn’t confused, I knew what I wanted now..and it was the love story with him.
I forced it to last years beyond it’s shelf life; confident I could change his mind. The game of it all consumed me and the drug of his love the ultimate reward. I tapped much harder on his shoulder each time. I longed to feel it all again and I regretted every moment I had pushed it all off the dancefloor. I was happy to take whatever scraps he wanted to throw my way…dignity dropped on the floor as quickly as our clothes.
It is such a funny thing to look back on now. How young. How foolish. How desperately in love I thought I was. I have pages and pages of Dear Diary’s to prove it.
To me it was the complete turning of the world on its axis, that I was suddenly doing all the hard yards; the chasing. I know that is so clearly what I got caught up in.
He wasn’t magic. He was smoke and mirrors.
I don’t even know why I have chosen to remember it all as I have, as I am sure it was all uglier than I now recall some 15 years later.
Oh what a lucky girl I am to have ended up here. I could still be out there roaming the streets on my matching skates searching for him, thinking I loved him.
Begging him to tap me on my shoulder in a crowded room, if I promised not to snap at his fingers.
Real romance was discovered eventually of course, as the story often goes. A complete explosion of chemistry and fireworks and happily ever after, smiles and deep love in front of fans, and on sweaty dance floors, skating around the streets holding hands. Red lipped still (always) but now drunk on proper love. The kind that gives back a million times over. With blue sparkly eyes, and a smile that melts me still.
To think back now on what I thought I knew.
If only I could see what was on it’s way, to know that a spectacular, fulfilled love life was ahead of me.
I don’t actually regret a single thing at all, as I am sure you wouldn’t either. Well ..maybe I do.
I wish I had of let things go when it was time to. Dignity still in tact.
Maybe I also wish I had of spent more time on dance floors with girlfriends; instead of under gigantic fans checking my makeup, talking to no-hopers in Hawaiian shirts.
Windmill arms and Destiny’s Child mandatory.