This evening I have been listening to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
There are certain songs or albums that always trigger memories for me. I can’t listen to Tap on my Window for instance without thinking of a certain man, and if I hear Run DMC vs Jason Nevins, It’s Like That, I’m 19 again, getting ready for a night in a crappy club, drinking peach schnapps.
Lauryn Hill reminds me of a particular time during my second year of university. I was 20 years old, a single mum of a three-year-old, commuting two hours a day to get to lectures. I didn’t get to do any of the social stuff, or even really get to hang out much, so there was very little opportunity for any sort of drunken debauchery.
However, I had my eye on a boy…
We were friends, we shared lots of the same lectures, but when you have to rush home after class to pick up a small child from playgroup, it’s hard to find the right time to make your move. Plus, believe it or not, or was actually pretty shy when I was 20, asking someone out (whilst sober at least) was a really big deal.
I remember we were in the middle of end of year exams, and I was beginning to feel I was going to have to do something, sometime soon, else it would be summer, and the summer holidays seemed ridiculously long. How could I possibly wait weeks and months to see him again?
I had a habit in uni of leaving three hour exams after about an hour and a half, (I get bored easily), so one afternoon I was sat on my own in the bar, waiting for everyone else to come out, when I spotted my boy. He had come out early too. He came and sat with me. I was convinced he would be able to hear my heart pounding in my chest. Even now, typing this, I’m feeling nervous, just remembering it.
We had about 20 minutes until everyone else came out. I was feeling brave. Petrified, but brave. Time was ticking, I had to do something. The conversation went something like this:
“So,” I said, trying to keep my voice as calm as casual as possible, “how are you feeling about the exam tomorrow?”
“Pretty confident,” said my boy. He always was cocky.
“Only I’m feeling a bit unsure about it,” (blatant lie), “and I was thinking maybe you could help me?”
“Sure, can you hang around now?”
“Well no, that’s the problem, I have to get back. You’d have to come with me.” I lived about 50 miles away. “You could stay over if you like.”
He later told me it was the most instant erection he had ever had, which is always good to know.
Lauryn Hill was on in the car as we drove back to my house and I tried to stop my heart pounding and appear sexy and cool at all times.
We went out for about six months, and I was smitten. I was living in a tiny house at the time, just me and Bee, with barely any furniture, and just enough money for pasta ‘n’ sauce. My boy took me out for Proper Meals and brought real grown up food to my house. I was so impressed. He was also hugely driven and ambitious, and challenged me to feel the same. Until that point in my life, although I had always had support, and plenty of praise, I’m not sure I ever really felt pushed, not in the way that he pushed me. He took me outside my comfort zone, he seemed to have a different way of being, and he helped me believe that perhaps I really could be anything I wanted to be.
I remember just after we broke up, I went with some friends to see his band play in a bar in Bristol. I thought he was just the best guitarist in the whole world, and after the gig, back at a friend’s flat, I cried and cried. I couldn’t stop crying enough to go to sleep, so at about 6am I gave up and drove home, still crying. I felt broken – like all of my insides had been ripped out, I couldn’t control myself, I couldn’t imagine how I would ever stop crying. I wasn’t so much crying for him, but for what I felt might have been, the kind of person I might have become with him.
Does that sound stupid? It was really a pretty insignificant relationship, and who knows, he probably doesn’t even remember me now, twelve years on. I got over it, pretty quickly in the end, but for just a little while I was gutted. I still think about him sometimes and the impact he had on my life at that time. They say it’s the things you don’t do that you regret, and I’m certainly glad I took the chance that day in the uni bar.