Kim, you know when I’m pissed off with stuff, I try my best to ignore the rest of the world and just vanish into my head and remember the good times with you. Like the mornings we stayed cuddled up in bed cause it was too cold to get up and we both had sweaters and three pairs of socks on. And the nights we walked home from town or from parties when we could see our breath in the air and our noses went numb. And the evenings we went to the beach when you’d finished your classes for the day and I was done with work, and we sat on our rock and watched the tide coming in or going out, listening to the seagulls making a racket, talking about all the things we were going to do one day, all the places we were going to go, how everything was going to be perfect but it didn’t matter even if it wasn’t, cause we had each other and that’s all we needed.
It makes me kind of sad cause you’re not here now and we’re never going to get to do those things and go to those places, but I remember the time we had together so clearly it’s like I can go inside my head and then step into the memories and it feels almost real. Like right now, I’m sitting here in this stupid van, not wanting to talk to Hugh, and Jamie’s got his headphones on and we’re going back home. Nothing’s been sorted, none of it’s resolved, except we all have a fuckload more cash now than we thought we were going to have and I think that’s maybe nudging Hugh and Jamie towards resolving things in a direction I’m not OK with. I can’t even deal with thinking about it right now. I’d rather think about you, which I’m aware is kind of mentally unhealthy, but it’s not going to stress me out as much as thinking about how long people go to prison for when they get caught supplying Class A’s.
So I’m thinking about the night we met instead of all that shit. It had been raining earlier in the day but it had faded to that drizzly sort of mist that hangs in the air and coats all the bricks and cobblestones so they’re kind of greasy but also really beautiful cause of how they catch the shine of the streetlights. Nights like that are what Edinburgh was built for, when it looks like autumn but it’s still summer and there’s enough warmth soaked into the stone to make it alright to sit on a wall outside a graveyard in the Old Town and enjoy a solitary smoke at 3am on a Tuesday. I know it sounds nuts, but when I couldn’t sleep and I had the next day off work, I used to just go and wander around town at night, walking for ages, just looking at everything and feeling really lucky that I get to live somewhere so beautiful.
I went to light a smoke and my stupid plastic lighter died but then there you were. Cause I was wandering around on my own at fuck off o’clock at night, I didn’t think it was weird that you were too. You looked stressed out though, kind of pissed off and sad, like you’d been crying earlier but you’d got your shit together before you went outside even though there wasn’t anyone around to see you, except me. And you weren’t expecting me. You looked nervous when I called over to you, like you weren’t sure whether or not it was OK to talk to me, but you must have decided it was cause you came over and let me use your lighter. When I gave it back to you, I smiled and said thank you and you started crying like the world was going to end. I’m no good at dealing with people crying and I never know what the right thing to do is so I offered you a cigarette and said to come and sit with me and tell me what was wrong if you wanted.
To this day, it blows my mind that you actually did. I could’ve been anyone. I could’ve been going to rob you or something. When I asked you about it ages after, you said you got a good feeling from me and you knew I was alright. So we sat there and smoked, me in my ancient jeans and my shitty old hoodie and boots, and you in a flowery skirt and a pink cardigan and the cleanest white trainers I’ve ever seen anyone wearing. You looked like an angel. If angels are real and you’re one now, I bet that’s what you’re wearing. I bet your trainers are still really clean.
You told me about how you’d had a fight with your parents, or at least a disagreement because your parents didn’t really do fighting, but you’d raised your voice and they were horrified. You’d said you maybe weren’t happy at uni, now that your first year was over. They’d gone all we’re not angry, we’re disappointed at you, like you weren’t allowed not to be happy, and you’d said no-one ever asked you if you wanted to be a doctor. Everyone had just always said you would be, and that was that. Then you’d shouted, sort of, about not ever really getting to choose anything for yourself and shit got really heavy so you went up to your room, waited until your parents were asleep, climbed out your window and just started walking.
We smoked another cigarette and then another. When it started to get light, you said you had to go home cause your parents would freak out if they got up and you weren’t there. We lived at opposite ends of town back then so we both had to walk away and I did something I’ve never done before in my life. I gave you my phone number and said to call me if you wanted to. I said we could go for a drink or a coffee or sit on a bench in the middle of the night and smoke more sometime if you wanted. I didn’t expect to hear from you but an hour later I got a text saying thank you, that you’d got home alright and your parents had still been in bed, and what was I doing later.
Just to avoid any awkward conversations, the place I suggested meeting was as gay as a gay bar gets, with a big old rainbow flag over the door and baskets of condoms and lube in the toilets. We sat on a knackered old brown leather couch in the corner and drank bottles of over-priced pear cider until closing. You had on this perfect pale pink nail polish, like candyfloss and seashells, and I couldn’t stop looking at your hands. I can still smell your perfume. I can still hear your laugh. I don’t think those things will ever leave me, or at least I hope they won’t.
I was in love with you already. I told you that months later and you said you’d felt the same way. You said it was like someone turned a light on and you could suddenly see everything in more detail, with brighter colours and a warm glow. I said it was the same for me, but I lied. It wasn’t like a light coming on. It was like getting hit by a tidal wave, only not in a bad way. It was like standing on the beach, watching the water being pulled further and further back, knowing that something monumental was gathering, then when it came rushing towards me I opened my arms to it and let it crash over me because nothing in the world could be better than drowning in you.