What Can Make Me Feel This Way?
From Issue 48, Autumn 2000
I'm not certain of the first time I ever laid
eyes on her, but I know I was very young. It wasn't
a conscious thing at all, it just happened. It
may have had something to do with my dad knowing
her. He was forever talking about her. When I
finally did get to meet her, the build-up she
received should have meant inevitable disappointment
- but it didn't. That first meeting was near to
euphoric. There was no flirting, no coyness, and
no shyness. Just full on love at first sight,
there would never be another.
Until then, I was a boy. Now I fell like a full-grown
man. So this is why my dad loved her so much?
He wasn't exaggerating. She was sexy, fun, admired
by everyone and all in all just plain brilliant.
The feeling I got was at times indescribable.
I wanted to jump up and down, I wanted to sing
to the world at the top of my voice. I cried when
my dad went to see her alone and left me behind.
I was beside myself with jealousy, and there were
times when I'm afraid to say I even came close
to hating him. Was he trying to keep me away from
Anyway, the years rolled by and before long I
didn't need a chaperone. The romance went from
strength to strength. First it was every other
weekend, but as things progressed and the passion
grew. We had to see each other every week, sometimes
twice a week, even if it meant sneaking away just
to grab a couple of hours together. These were
the best of times; weekends away, trips to some
of the finest cities in Europe and best of all
our twice-yearly jaunt to the Smoke for a riotous
weekend. After being caught out at one weekend
away, my parents started to interfere. "You're
seeing too much of her", "you're too
young to be getting involved", "go and
live your life first"
they understand? She was my life. Despite the
incessant nagging these were without doubt the
best years of my life, probably the same for her
The first hurdle to overcome came in the form
of further education. I needed to go to Newcastle
to study, but she stayed at home to carry on regardless.
"There's others up North" said my mother.
"Yes, mam, but no-one like her". Mothers
only think they know best. So it was with a heavy
heart that I packed my bags and trundled off to
the frozen North. I vowed to stay faithful and
keep in touch every day. At first it was business
as usual. I met a number of souls in the same
predicament, we comforted each other and I travelled
back most weekends to see her. By that first Christmas
the bank balance (never that healthy at the best
of times) started to resemble the Sahara. Sacrifices
had to be made, and it was then that the relationship
began to show a few cracks.
I still admired her from afar, proud as punch
when she started to appear more on telly. "She's
mine", I'd proudly boast, "we've been
everywhere together. We're just taking a break
away from each other, that's all". The Geordies
all had similar relationships, but though my love
wasn't what she was and had started to show her
age, she was still head and shoulders above theirs.
Sadly, things started to go from bad to worse.
She got a new stepdad and she began to change
beyond recognition. No more sexiness, no more
laughter, no more trips abroad.
Everything that made anyone she met fall in love
with her had gone - replaced by anger, mistrust,
and betrayal. For the first time in my life, she
seemed ugly despite her buying every expensive
dress in the shop window. She just wasn't the
same girl I had fallen for. Despite all this,
my feelings were still strong. How does the saying
go? "Love is blind". And as everyone
knows, the course of true love never runs smoothly.
Anyway, the years began to tick by. Still no weekends
away, still no trips abroad - and weekends in
the Smoke had definitely been kicked into touch.
Every time I came home, we saw each other. I was
working outside the city, and for the first time
my bank manager saw me as an asset not a liability.
She'd lost the wicked stepfather and ended up
with the complete opposite. He had been a friend
of the family for years and was a very nice man.
Too nice for her, as we all knew she had a wicked
streak that had to be kept under control. She
still wasn't the same as when we first met, but
every now and then she just glowed. All the flattery
began again, she was constantly being told that
she had turned the corner and was back to her
old radiant self. Sure as night followed day,
she would let me down the very next week.
None of this really mattered, though. Deep down,
she was still the only one for me. This often
led to a nasty incident when I was away from home.
Some hillbilly bumpkin would have a go at her.
What did they know, for fuck's sake? They were
stuck with Leeds, Hull, Newcastle, Derby - what
did they know about beauty? They could never see
her through my eyes, anyway. As time progressed
and our relationship became strained at best,
the hand of fate intervened to push the story
in yet another direction. I changed jobs again,
closer to home, closer to her. We started to meet
again, tentatively at first but as time passed
more and more. We could never match those earlier
days of bliss but just being together felt nice
and made us think of what we had been missing.
The nice stepfather took in a French lodger, and
they both tried for a while to get her back into
line. She was too much for both of them, and after
a while her new stepfather set about changing
her for the better. He had his own ideas, and
everyone told him it would never work. She was
too unruly, too rebellious. After an early struggle,
he must have been sick of hearing people say "told
you so" but after a while there was a definite
She'll never get back to what she was. I miss
those days so much, but I'm totally realistic.
At least things are starting to look up. The Frenchman
has pulled her back from the brink and people
have started looking over their shoulders at her
once more. As for me and her, we never went behind
each other's backs. We remained loyal and true
to our feelings despite being apart for so long.
We must have known that all the hurdles in the
world could be put in our way but we were meant
to be together forever, unconditionally. Even
if she had got worse instead of better, it was
always obvious that she is my one and only love.