Wednesday 23 May
I kid you not, the night terror and fear I experienced between 11pm and 11am was among the worst I’ve ever endured. I was waking up screaming, sweating, shaking and convinced I was going to die. My dreams were deep, powerful, violent and truly disturbing. I was literally running out of breath in my sleep and gasping for air. One of those nights where you don’t think you slept at all. I blame the altidude and not the copious amounts of cigarettes and alcohol over the weekend. Still, with nothing much to do but try to recover, it gave me a chance to reflect on someone, or at least an ideology, that I still hold dear.
I was in my mid teens when I went to my first music festival, with long hair a spotty face and no clue about girls. I followed a few friends around, not really sure what decent music was, but trying desperately to find that out while being subtle about my obvious lack of knowledge, and drinking cans of Oranjeboom To this day I’m still limited, music wise, with a more extensive background in film, but that’s beside the point. There I was in a crowd of party goers and band fans, not really sure what I was doing. I’d also just begun to learn to play the drums to try and be cool. It was this that led me to a night I’ll never forget.
After the sun had long gone down and the live acts had turned off the amps, myself and a few friends found ourselves sitting with a group of similar age at the tents next to ours. Someone had lit some kind of empty beer can box fire, while obviously there was the dude that could play guitar. I think I’d had a few drinks, and I was drumming avidley on two pringle tins, and anything else I could get my hands on. For some reason, the beautiful young brunette in a red hoodie across from me kept catching my eye, and flashing that ‘girl-next-door’ smile. Remember the film Stand By Me? It felt like, and still feels like one of those coming of age moments. It wasn’t long before we were the only two awake, huddled side by side, putting the world to rights.
I’d never kissed a girl up until that point, and I’ve no idea what we talk about, but in my memory it was beautiful. It would have been music, film, life, love and God. All I could see was the occasional flash of her bright eyes from behind that red hood, and that smile. I lived in a little town called Wetherby, while she came from Otley, a dales town a little further away. I knew it well because they had an excellent model shop dad used to take me to. I’d like to say when I was a kid, but he probably did still at 17. I didn’t tell her this of course. Then again, I probably did. She might have liked me that little bit more for it. Especially if she knew what Tamiya was.
As the sun came up, I decided to call it a night. I rose, extended my hand, shook hers, thanked her for a lovely evening, and retired to my tent. A friend afterwards said he respected me so much more when I said “I didn’t want to kiss her; it would have spoiled the moment.” Every time I think about it though I wish I did. I’d probably have wanted to marry her. I never saw her again, and I can’t even remember her name. I’m not sure we ever exchanged them. Anyway dear reader, you might get my point. She is for me forever that girl. The one that got away. The hopeless romantic notion you spill the shopping of, then bump heads to retrieve an apple. The girl you’d do anything for. including re-tiling the bathroom.
I often think about her, especially in lonely times like today when I’m left to my own devices, pondering on times gone by, nursing a hangover while taking an imodium-alka seltzer combo and feeling sorry for myself. I think she’s popped in there this time however, because after nine months on the road, well, the possibility is she could become very real, and she’s no longer sitting across from me in a field when I was 17