I was a shy teenager, a bit like Ruth, the main character in my Seven Deadly Sins story. I had a handful of good friends, but no confidence, especially where boys were concerned. One weekend, the impossible happened. At a party, a boy asked me out.
To my amazement, we became an item, and over the following months, we met up whenever we could. Then came the disaster.
It happened after his college exchange trip to Italy. I pined while he was gone, longed for our reunion. But on his return he seemed elusive, always out or unavailable when I rang. When I finally got through to him, we arranged to go to the cinema the following night.
While the months we spent together have blurred to a dozen vague memories, that evening is forever etched on my mind. I recall every detail: what I wore, what the film was, my intense excitement as I spotted him waiting in the town square. And my simultaneous sense of dread, the certainty that Something Was Wrong.
He told me after the film. He’d met another girl during the trip, another student from his college. He was sorry. It Just Happened.
It’s a common enough story, one familiar to the average teenager. But how does it feel to look back, from the future?
For me, the thing that stands out the most is this: my numb despair at this boy’s loss, so out of kilter with my mixed feelings for him while we were together.
Truth is, we had very little in common. He was popular and good-looking, but there was a whiff of arrogance about him, which got on my nerves. From the vantage point of distance, I clearly see what eluded me at the time. That I didn’t much like this boy, let alone love him.
How could I be so blind? Perhaps the intensity of first experiences gives them a significance they would otherwise never have. Also, back then, I had no idea about the better things around the corner. Before long I would be at university, enjoying a whole new life and meeting much more interesting boys.
If I could, I would shake my teenage self, the girl who cried herself to sleep, convinced that her life was over. I’d tell her she should be laughing, because she had actually gained a lot more than she’d lost.
But I guess that would spoil the surprise.