I’ve been happily married for over twenty years, but we were both fortunate enough to have had previous lives, before we met. With my ex-girlfriends, to split was ultimately the right solution, even though I maybe didn’t think so at the time. Not really any regrets.
One person I do have regrets about was Sue. Deliberately, that’s not her real name – she had quite an unusual name and I wouldn’t want her to be identifyable, or even suspectable, from this post.
It must have been 1987, I was nineteen going on twenty, in my second year at university- so was she – so it was an early relationship for both of us. From the days back when we believed in thunderbolts!
When I met her, Sue was on the rebound from a relationship which had been sufficiently serious that she’d been engaged, even at that tender age. But she assured me that it was over, and I was young enough to take that at face value – as I got older, I learned to be wary of “rebound” women.
A whirlwind romance. We were both penniless students, so how could it be anything else? We didn’t actually go anywhere, except to the local pub (bar).
It was not long after the start of the academic year, and we met quite accidentally. I had been drinking in the student union (another bar!) with her housemate, who I knew. We parted company at the end of the night, and on my way out I saw Sue. It would have been late, back then, things usually closed at 2am, so being the gallant chap that I am, I offered to walk her home – it was on the way to my place anyway. We got back to her place, and she gave me a kiss goodnight. A nice, long kiss, if you know what I mean. Use your imagination! I was elated – this gorgeous girl had given me a long, intimate kiss goodnight, so went home on a high.
A short while later I saw this friend on another night, and Sue was again present. As she apologised for being so drunk last time, she made it quite clear that she had no clear memory of what had happened, so I didn’t push it. We all make silly, drunken mistakes. The night ended again, and again Sue and I walked home together. Of course, one of her questions was to ask what had happened the last time, so I told her, including the kiss! She claimed embarrassment, so I was surprised when, on reaching her apartment, it happened again! There was no mistake this time, I don’t think either of us could have claimed drunkenness as an excuse. So, we arranged a date.
From that point on, we became inseparable, did everything together. I found out about her failed relationship – real grown-up things! She had become pregnant, and at such a young age, he’d suggested an abortion. At that age, I’d have been scared witless too and would maybe have jumped the same way. But it wasn’t me. She’d decided that she was not going to carry on with the pregnamcy if the father wasn’t supportive, but also to kick this guy into touch. She didn’t want to be with someone who’d be an unsupportive father. This had all happened just a couple of months before I met her, but as I said, as far as I was concerned it was just history.
Our relationship just got stronger. It was very concentrated, we became this “I love You” / “You Love Me” item over just a couple of months. Love? I was nineteen, what clue did I have about love?
Christmas holidays. I went back to my family, she to her’s. But we wrote to each other (on notepaper, we pushed the pieces into envelopes and stuck stamps on them. How quaint!) at least every other day, and we probably called each other as often. I still have those letters. Life was good. Had I really met “the one” at only nineteen? She had arranged to go back to her apartment just after New Year’s, and invited me to spend the week with her, before university started up again. How could I refuse?
We met up again during that first week of January. We’d only been apart for two or three weeks, but something had changed between us. For me, it was still plain sailing, but she was clearly troubled.
Toward the end of the week, I eventually received my explanation. At home at New Year’s, she had seen her ex- again. He’d begged her for another chance. I think she’d been with this guy from ever since, and she was conscious of walking away from that so she agreed to a tentative trial back with him. On the outside, I was rational throughout – what had happened had happened, and if she still wanted to be with him, more fool her. It was, however, immensely uncomfortable, especially as she kept me informed of the upcoming weekend with this guy. In the days following the weekend, I received the note that I had been dreading, that she wanted to try and make a go of things with him. All told, we had only been together around three months, a drop in the ocean. Crucially, not long enough for me to discover her faults.
What could I do? As far as I was concerned, I had been reasonable until the end, although the breakup came with sleepless nights for most of the next year. Everywhere I went, I just wanted to be someplace else. But at the time, I didn’t particularly fight. If she’d wanted me over him, or vice versa, she just had to think it through, it was all just logic. In fact, I saw Sue at various times – we were amongst a large student population, but students have their habits and our paths were bound to cross every now and again. I happened to see her when we graduated, but I was with somebody else by then, I’ve no idea of her circumstances. After we left university, we went our separate ways and we never kept in touch – it would have been too painful to re-open old wounds.
But, you know, I was nineteen, and life is all about learning. Plus, with hindsight, I know that the reason she was so perfect was just that I hadn’t known her long enough to discover the imperfections. I can look back at this and smile – I hope Sue is happy now and has done well for herself. Regrets? Well, I regret that the relationship never reached its full potential, but looking at how my own life worked out subsequently, I can hardly complain. There are even reasons to be thankful – I have been with the perfect partner (how rare is that?), who’d also been head over heels for me (how rare was that? 😀 ) For a few months, at least!
I shall end this post with our song.
As clear as if it were yesterday.