I can still vividly recall the first time I met her. I’d only just turned eighteen and now that I no longer needed to lie about my age I could sit unhindered in the pub and quaff pints to my heart’s content. On this particular night, a Friday if I recall correctly, I was out with a few of my closest pals when I bumped into a mate from school whom I hadn’t seen in months. We got to chatting and during the course of the conversation he mentioned a girl who he reckoned would be perfect for me. With only a couple of pints of board I wasn’t awash with the kind of Dutch courage required for scenarios like this but I thought fuck it why not, you only live once, etc. My mate promised me that she was totally unlike any other girl I’d ever met before and we’d get on famously he was sure of it.
Upon introduction I failed to see what all the fuss was about. She didn’t appear to be anything spectacular to look at and I wondered whether my friend had pulled a fast one on me. I patiently sipped my pint and waited for the ‘spark’ or indeed any kind of chemistry but in truth I was already thinking about heading back to my mates and having a quiet word with my old school friend for introducing me to this dullard. But then after about twenty minutes of politely nodding and listening something a bit odd happened. My palms became sweaty, my foot started tapping uncontrollably and, most inexplicably, my stomach seemed to be ready to lift right out of my body with the amount of butterflies in there. Was this the chemistry my friend told me we’d be sure to share? I was still unsure but looking at this girl again I found myself seeing her in a different light, she still wasn’t quite the radiant vision of my most fantastic dreams but I was gradually warming to her.
It appeared that this girl wasn’t one for sitting quietly in the corner of the local pub for within less than an hour of us meeting she had convinced me that we needed to go to a nightclub and we needed to do so with no little haste. It was only 11.30 but I didn’t need much convincing and so it was that I confidently sauntered into an almost empty discotheque with this newly acquired mysterious woman friend. I soon found out why she was so eager to get me into an auditorium where loud, thumping music was the order of the day, or night as the case may be, as she dragged me onto the dancefloor and proceeded to contort and gyrate herself against my now pulsating body. The sweating palms and slight feeling of unease that I’d felt earlier had imperceptibly given way to a sense of inner calm and wellbeing which was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I looked her dead in the eye as she grooved into my heart and said “You’re the one for me”.
And so it was. I fell into her loving embrace as we sashayed around this new found mecca for the next three hours and happily professed my love for her at every available opportunity. She wasn’t like all the other girls, she understood me, I felt like I could share and expose every inch of my soul to her without any fear of reprisal. To coin a phrase, I wished the night would never end. But end it must and as the lights came up we spilled into the night air bleary eyed and legless. I introduced her to my friends and found to my displeasure that not only did they not share my affection for my new paramour but they seemed to be outright critical of our coupling. Well what did they know, this was my new girl and quite frankly I cared not what others thought. As she bid me farewell for the night I promised that we’d meet again the following night before heading home barely comprehending what had just happened.
Upon awaking the following morning I felt strangely empty, almost forlorn. The memory of the previous night was still fresh in my mind but despite feeling a tinge of excitement at the prospect of meeting up with her again my prevailing mood was one of desolation and all I really felt like doing was curling up in front of the TV for the day. But it was Saturday night and I had a hot date so I quickly shook off my inertia and prepared myself for what I hoped would be a night just as memorable as the previous one. Thankfully she didn’t let me down one little bit. Again our early offerings were a little strained and tense but once we settled down things seemed to pick up from almost exactly where they left off the previous night. I was better able to appreciate the time spent in her company this time around having spent the entire day anticipating what lay ahead of me. Not that that made the night any less mind blowing or intoxicating, much the opposite in actual fact. Familiarising myself with each and every facet of her being I felt myself attaining a level of sensory euphoria which I never knew existed. I was only eighteen but I failed to see how life could get any better than this.
Then it was morning again. She had long since gone and just like the previous morning I was left with nothing more than some majestic memories and a body suitably exhausted from the night’s exertions. There was no doubt in my mind that she was worth it but I couldn’t help but wonder whether I would always feel this way. As the week progressed and we made plans to meet again the following weekend I found myself questioning the point of many of the things which were supposedly the mainstays of my life. Her influence on me was so consuming that almost unbeknownst to me my entire mindset was undergoing a subtle, but revolutionary, transformation. The world seemed like a different place to me now. I saw it for what it was. A massive, continuous stream of bullshit occasionally punctuated by something which made you realise what the point of living actually was. For me that something was her.
After that we met every weekend without fail. Such was her effect on me that I daren’t risked us meeting on a week night, and anyway waiting all week to see her kept things fresh and exciting. We continued in this vein for over a year and amazingly it never once felt stale or remotely mundane. Sometimes we went on weekends away and other times we didn’t even go out at all but one constant was the music, and the conversation. She introduced me to all sorts of sounds which I’d never have accessed in my previous iteration as a clueless teenager with a mildly insouciant attitude. Again I sensed my horizons expanding and a dawning realisation that when I was with her I actually liked the person I was. I knew I needed her far more than she needed me but that didn’t bother me as something about her told me that our time together would be all too brief. This only strengthened my desire to make the most of our time as one.
Inevitably this honeymoon period came to an end and when it did so it was as abrupt as it was painful. Spending our weekends solely in one another’s company barely pausing for sleep or food had begun to take its toll both mentally and physically and it was with this in mind that I suggested we take a break. She seemed as reluctant as I but for once my head ruled my heart and an agreement was made wherein we wouldn’t meet up again until we had gotten the rest of our respective lives in order. This time apart hit me hard. I drank to excess, chased other women and generally behaved like a complete idiot. Friends told me she’d always be there for me if and when I needed her and on more than one occasion I almost caved and gave her a call. But I stayed strong and sought to move on, although admittedly she never left my thoughts for very long.
But eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and in a booze fuelled frenzy I searched her out in that same nightclub where we’d spent our first night together. There she was, with that same mutual friend that had introduced us and within minutes we were chatting again. Before long we settled back into our familiar pattern but things felt different, not markedly so but enough for me to notice. No longer did I feel like dancing in her arms all night long, instead I preferred to just sit and talk like we used to and tell her the kind of secrets that I never thought I’d have been capable of sharing. It was during one of these long heart to hearts that we came to the realisation that this thing we had going on could never become serious. It had always been at its best when it was a casual weekend tryst where neither party was obliged to the other and we resolved to keep it that way if there was any chance of us remaining as close as we now were.
This arrangement worked better than it had any right to, partly because she was so understanding and partly because we never allowed ourselves to get too wrapped up in one another. During our times apart, and sometimes during our times together, there were other girls but her spectre always loomed large and the prospect of any serious relationship ever forming seemed impossible while she was still in my heart. By now my disapproving friends were settling into long-lasting, loving relationships and my reluctance to follow suit was almost a running joke. Although they never said it to my face I knew that they were all patiently waiting for me to grasp the fact that she and I had no future and that the longer we kept up this charade the more damaging it would be for me. But I had nothing else in my life, there was only her. We found ourselves attending house parties looking around the room and realising that we were almost the oldest people there. Visits to nightclubs were no longer the heavenly experiences of old as we no longer seemed to fit in. All we had ever done together was party and without that we found that we shared little in common.
Stubbornly I refused to accept the writing was on the wall and against all reasoning I always found myself coming back to her. Now in my mid twenties and with a life going nowhere fast I felt like I needed her more than ever. Instead of being my good time girl she had now become my refuge, my only source of solace. I’m sure my Mother knew of her but she never mentioned a thing and it was only after a heated argument which left me in hospital that I told the other important woman in my life about this temptress who was threatening to consume me completely. My Mother, as Mother’s do, urged me to dispense with ‘this harlot’ and start anew. I, as Son’s do, nodded in agreement whilst secretly planning to meet up with her again. Looking back on it the problem lay in her total lack of respect for me. I couldn’t see it at the time but she cared not one jot for me and to her I was but a mere distraction in a life less ordinary.
Our tipping point finally came as I entered the latter stage of my twenties. Having moved away from my hometown in an attempt to start afresh I was finally ready to leave the past behind and do some growing up. But like a bad smell she just wouldn’t disappear. For a short time I thought I could incorporate her into this new life but it wasn’t long before I realised that not only could she play no part in my new surroundings but that she could play no part in my life ever again. There was no long drawn out goodbye, just a mutual understanding that after one heady last night together the jig was up. At the time I probably didn’t even realise that we’d never see each other again, at least not consciously anyway. She had given me some of the happiest moments of my life and changed me as a person in every imaginable way. But there had also been some bad times, some terrible times which had most probably had an abiding effect on me also. The time was right for us to part ways and now almost four years on I don’t for one second regret leaving when I did.
Oh I almost forgot. I should tell you her name. You must want to know her name? Well some people call her Methylenedioxymethamphetamine. But I just knew her as Ecstasy.