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 her?
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” ………didn’t 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 as well.
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 improvement.
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. My LFC!