Going back to Swansea this weekend left me with some very mixed feelings. Yeah, Swansea was where Mrs Nobbs and I met and fell in love so it was special to go back together with Junior and see all the places we remembered from those days (even if most of them have changed a lot with all the development money being spent in the city). But at the same time, I was apprehensive. You see, Swansea is the home town of the first woman who was going to be Mrs Nobbs. I woman I was deeply in love with for three years, and who then tore my heart from my chest, ripped my soul apart and left a gaping wound that took a very long time to heal.
So going back to Swansea will always, for me, carry that memory of her. It will always be hard. Still, this time around it was easier than the past couple of times we've been. I guess that before I was always scared I was going to run into her and not know how I'd react. Okay, so it's not very likely I would see her on the street in a city of 250,000, but that's not the point. Maybe I was just not sure I was comfortable with how my life had turned out. I didn't want to bump into her in Marks & Spencer. But this time, it didn't matter if I did. You see, this time, I was going back as a devoted husband and father. Had I met her on the street, I'd have been able to say, "Hi, here's my wife, and I love her. Here's my son and I'm proud of him. I have a great job, nice car, comfortable home," and it wouldn't matter how she was doing--if she was doing better than me or not. I'm happy and that's what counts. It's taken me a long time to realise that, but I do.
Now, as you may know, I'm a writer. And how do writers heal? They write, that's how. Okay, so I don't really need to heal so I don't really need write this now, but it might do me some good in any case. Exorcise a few demons, so to speak. So here goes. Here's a slice of my very personal history.
I was nineteen when I met Alyson. (Yes, that is her real name). Actually, that's not strictly true. I was eighteen. We first met on the first night we spent at university in Aberystwyth together back in October of that year, but it wasn't until the following spring that we became friendly.
That first year, we lived in what you'd describe as a traditional university hall of residence. Four floors, 20 rooms or so each floor, shared bathroom and kitchen. I was on the all male ground floor. She was on the mixed sex third floor. With our floor being all boys, we stuck together. The Ground Floor Lads and all that. Drinking too much, etc. The girls 'up top' were much more refined and didn't really mix with the likes of us.
I remember that me and two friends were considering standing for the hall of residence student committee for the following year. It would save us the bother of looking for accommodation, but it came with the responsibility of looking after the new students. Alyson and three of her friends were standing too. Up to that point we (that is, the two sets of friends) had operated in our own separate circles but this potential standing against each other for the committee positions, and our eventual stepping aside in their favour, sort of brought us together a bit.
I must admit that Alyson caught my eye. But I was young and inexperienced (read "virgin") and didn't really know how to make a move. Looking back, she was interested in me too, but was too shy to do anything about it either. There were a few nights where we watched videos together--but never really alone. There was always someone about.
I remember one night in particular, the night before the May Ball, when we were in my room watching some movie. It's not really important which one. I wasn't really watching it to be honest. I was just hoping that our friend would get tired and leave, or visit the bathroom, or something, anything, just leave so that I could try and kiss Alyson. Of course, when he did leave, someone else arrived, so I never did get to kiss her. Or even ask her to go to the ball with me. Not just with me as in both going at the same time but 'with me' as my date.
Instead, it was left up to my good friend, Chris. Not one of the friends who I was going to stand for committee with, but a different one. Chris was a ladies man. And he'd been able to mix with the girls 'up top' before the rest of us Ground Floor Lads. So while my friendship with Alyson was still in its early stages, he knew her quite well. He also knew we fancied each other but were too shy to say so (to each other. We'd both told him, obviously. He wasn't psychic or anything. Psychotic maybe but that's a different story).
The Ground Floor posse were all dressed up in our tuxes and ready for the off on the night of the ball. Some of the girls joined us, but two were late. Alyson and her best friend. Chris suggested that the others go on without us and secure tables, get the first round in, etc, while he and I went up to see what the hold up was. Actually, it was a plot between Chris and Alyson's friend to get Alyson and I go accompany each other down to the Ball. At the ball itself... well, you get the idea. I used that night for the basis of an older story of mine--only I took the story a bit further because Alyson and I never actually did anything that night if you know what I mean.
Anyway, the next day I was going back home to watch the last football match of the season with my Dad and an ex-girlfriend, which didn't go down too well and left us in a 'well, are we an item now or not' sort of situation. To cut a long story short, when I got back from the footy, we decided we were.
TO BE CONTINUED...