‘Did you ever imagine you’d be sitting here with me like this when we were at school?’ he said.
‘With you driving and your wife and your daughter? No way,’ I replied from the back of the car.
Flash back more than fifteen years to when I was a teenager and in my imagination I can see it as it was, a vividly different world. I had a schoolgirl crush on this guy in the year below me at school for what felt like an eternity, but thinking about it must have been at most two years. I felt flushed every time we spoke to each other, and every single word felt heavy with a subtext and a question – do you even like me?
My brain overthought everything to the point of making even the most straightforward conversation painful and awkward. Everything mattered deeply, every comment, look, gesture was analysed and interpreted to reveal whether the person who uttered, glanced, waved at you liked you or not. And if you thought they didn’t it really REALLY mattered.
I thought that nobody could have ever experienced this much pounding discomfort from being in love. It felt heavy and sharp in every cell of my body. It ached.
Man, I am so glad I’m not a teenager anymore.
I couldn’t have imagined, aged 14, being able to sit in the company of this guy with equanimity, completely at ease, not thinking about the conversation, not panicking about what I was saying and how it would be interpreted, not fretting about giving the game away. I couldn’t imagine not being in love with him.
And then when we left school, we almost immediately dropped out of each other’s lives and I couldn’t imagine there would ever be a time when I would chatting away to him in the middle of a weekend away. Sitting in the back of his car. With his wife. And his daughter.
Lots changes in fifteen years but that doesn’t stop life from throwing you the occasional pleasant surprise, to remind you of how far you’ve come and give you the imagination to see how far there could still be to go.