That day left a bad taste in my mouth. I was readily prepared not to let it have this power over me. I felt like I was in a relatively good place to deal with Valentines Day and all its romantic gestures and overpriced bouquets of roses that, yeah, are pretty flipping extortionate but I definitely wouldn’t mind receiving. Honestly, I genuinely thought and still think I am okay with being single. I went on a date recently, and whilst it was nice there was no spark. We’re better suited as friends and that’s fine. It’s just reinstated my beliefs that no one should settle. That whilst epic love is probably one for the story books, it doesn’t mean I have to live with something that simply fizzles. I want it to catch fire. So, trust me, I’m cool with being a singleton if it means finding the real deal one day.
What is not cool is working on that dreaded day in retail and seeing the mad dash for last minute bits and that one girl who looked way too smug clutching her heart-shaped helium balloon as she strolled around the store. It reminded me of my solidarity, of the fact I’ve been single for forever (literally), and that I’ve barely even experienced the cusp of romance, relationships… Any of it. But then I read the lovely Grace’s post, ‘5 on the 14th.‘ and it made me want to carve out my few and far between brushes with love, or at least… intense like like, and treasure them for what they are even if they’re not much of anything. So here goes.
Between the ages of 15 and 16 I fell in deep, deep like with a curly haired boy in the year above. Our ‘thing’ was an accumulation of six hour Skype calls after school, near-misses, and, at our near-breaking point, ‘Percy Jackson’ film quotes — he was focused on the screen, I was too busy thinking about how we were lying right next to each other. At the time I thought maybe this was it, this was love, melodrama leading the way in every sorry diary entry. He taught me a lot about infatuation, clouded judgements, the downside to getting your hopes up, and heartbreak. And although he gave me my first kiss, the very one that finally burned us out, it was the first touch of hands across the sun-warmed sheets of his bed that I’m still able to remember with nothing but fondness. It was almost a year to the day we’d first met in a damp tent, almost a year to the day when I learned he could recite word for word that rubbish Logan Lerman movie, when I thought maybe I’d finally caught his attention enough to make it sting. There were fireworks in his fingertips and smoke left in their wake.
The tipping point. Toeing the lines between day 365 and day 1. For the first time in my life I felt empowered, albeit under the influence of a bottle of prosecco and copious drinking game forfeits, but confident and at home in my skin none the less. We were in a busy club and I was 19 and I caught the eye of the cute boy who used to work on the checkouts when I worked in Tesco during Sixth Form. Every time I found myself glancing in his direction he was already looking. To this day, I don’t know what compelled me to do it, because, ever since, I’ve not experienced anything like that magnetism, that desire to throw caution to the wind and just go for it. I waltzed up to him and said a quick “hi” before kissing him. My first New Years kiss wasn’t so much a ‘breaking in’ moment. In fact, we were kissing before 2014 happened and we were kissing well after, the sound of people shouting “3, 2, 1…”, singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’, becoming our soundtrack. But, although that’s definitely in my ‘Top 5 Kickass Kisses’, the significance lay in him driving his rusty old red car — the same one that my dad had to push off our drive when it wouldn’t start — all the way to visit me at university, a bag of mini eggs in tow. And I’m still not exactly sure how he knew that they were my favourite, and I’ll probably forever kick myself for not being ready to be loved right.
I wanted to write about five moments like Grace, but I realised, if Grace is a novice in love and romance, I’ve barely hit the ‘start’ button. There are other boys who, one way or another, have left their mark on me, other firsts been and gone. But, right now, in this moment, they aren’t standing out to me as something worth wasting words on. I almost don’t want to romanticise what wasn’t so great, or what was once so sweet in the moment, since begun to taste bitter.
‘Firsts’ and ‘New Years’, though? Those were two boys — the latter more of a man than the former could ever hope to be — who shaped me. For the better? The jury is still out on that one.
It also goes without saying, though, that platonic love and family love are some of the ultimate love stories. If I could capture the kind of love I experienced when holding my nieces and nephews for the first time… Now, that would be the stuff of the night sky. But here are two romantic loves, or, at the very least, deep like likes. I would love to read yours.