In my life I have been in love many, many times and I fully intend keeping on falling in love until I pass on from this Earth. Each time has been different, each has added something to my life. But the time I remember most fondly has to be the time I first fell in love.
I was young and thought I knew everything. Myself and two of my closest mates had managed to get a package deal to Ibiza to celebrate finishing our leaving certs. Three men, all seventeen, barely a brain cell between us. It was going to be brilliant.
We arrived that first day in the late afternoon and proceeded straight for the nearest pub. Beers turned to shorts turned to cocktails turned to god knows what else. Memories got a little hazy near the end, I can recollect a Dutchman telling me “I can’t believe you just drank that! You Irish are such crazy guys!” Can’t really argue with that can I?
We had hit Ibiza running and the next day we were suffering. The three of us managed to crawl down to the poolside just before noon the next day. Anto had kindly passed out over three pool chairs when eating his chips earlier that morning thus saving them for us from the towel wielding Germans so we didn’t have to lie on the tiles, which suited us grand. We were positioned back from the pool where there was the least shade. Though there were families at the resort most of them were Irish so with a stern warning-“Hey Johnny! Keep away from those poor bastards over there! They’re fucked!”-we were left unmolested, to suffer in peace.
Somehow the other lads had been able to drift off into unconsciousness and were sizzling nicely in the sun. I on the other hand was suffering ‘the fear’ and couldn’t knock off. I was silently saying the rosary to myself when I heard a voice behind me “You look like you had busy night” I painfully shifted myself over in order to tell them to go and take a running jump when I was stopped in my tracks.
In front of me was a vision. Tall, caramel skin, water dripping from brown ringlets of hair, and sporting a blue swimsuit showing more than it covered. All thoughts of retribution faded away and I was only able to come out with a simple “Yeah it was!” That should have been it but this woman pushed me further for information and I, awestruck, followed as well as I could. When I had told as much as I was able to remember she laughed with a “I know who I need to hang out with if I want a good night!”
Her name was Denise. She was older than me but wouldn’t say by how much. She owned an apartment in the complex and liked to visit there several times a year. She also happened to know a wonderful restaurant in the old town, If I was willing to join her for lunch.
I was dumbstruck, all thoughts of a hangover had left me. Was this woman asking me out? That had never happened before. I looked at the rest of the lads, already starting to turn red in the sun, clearly not liable to wake up any time soon and replied that yes, I was willing.
The restaurant was indeed everything that Denise had claimed, I was even able to take some wine as a cure. We talked, and talked, more than I think I had ever talked with anyone. She was a brilliant listener and had her fair share of stories to tell. She was so exotic, so beautiful, I found that time was losing its grip on me.
It was getting dark and we were still in the restaurant when we settled the bill. She told me to follow her and I could do nothing but obey. We walked from the old town, out onto the beach just as the stars were starting to come out. We came to a rocky outcrop and sat looking over the Mediterranean. She took out a bottle of wine from her bag and two glasses and we toasted good times.
I was young, relatively inexperience and slightly tipsy. Denise was firmly in charge. She moved her hand down my back and on to my thigh then moved into kiss me. It was soft, slow and electric. She looked into my eyes “Lets go back to my place” I couldn’t but agree.
What happened next was a revelation to my young mind. I had been with girls before, but this was a woman. She did things, got me to do things that I had never even imagined before. She took all my youth, my energy and harnessed it in a surge of passion, of lust. I did not want that night to end.
The next morning I sailed back into our apartment. To be met by Decco, lying face-down on the sofa, his back covered in red streaks, chronic Irish skin. “Where the fuck have you been?” I told him “You lucky bastard!” Then into the next room and my other sun burned compatriot “Here Anto! Look who’s got himself laid!”
They laughed, and teased, and I let them. But I had found something special, something wonderful. I met up with her the next day, and the day after that. Each day was something different, we danced, we listened to jazz, we took walks through parts of the town. Each night was a fresh lesson in the arts of love. I had a feeling that I could have spent the whole year with Denise and not have learned all her secrets.
But it was not to be. After three days and nights of bliss we were walking together back to the complex when she stopped me and told me that I could not come back with her that evening, that she had a flight early the next evening and that this little romance was over. I tried to say something, to argue but she had already walked off. Leaving me in my misery.
The rest of the holiday was a nightmare of depression and desolation. My friends tried to snap me out of it, girls were literally thrown at me. But I had nothing to do with them. They didn’t understand, I was in love, I only wanted Denise. They told me it was just a fling, that she probably did the same thing with every young man she could get her claws into, that it meant nothing but I would not, could not believe them. I had loved her, it had meant something to me.
I returned to Dublin, still morose but I was on the mend. Eventually, distance did its work and I started to feel better. Moreover, I found that I began to look at things differently. The juvenile antics that I had found so amusing before just didn’t seem as worthwhile as it had. Girls too took on a new dimension to me, no longer the one-dimensional objects of my schoolboy lust. The world in general took on much greater depth to my eyes.
I never met Denise again, I had not gotten her number or any other way of contacting her. But I would have to say that her influence is still with me. She had first talked to me as a mere boy but had walked away from me as a man. A man on the cusp of taking the next monumental step in his life.
But that, as they say, is another story.