Have you ever met someone, and just knew they were going to be important?
Have you ever fallen in love with someone in an instant?
My answer is no. To both of those. I’m far too rational for any of that. An unfortunate attribute I inherited from BBR (my dad).
For reasons already explained in a post over a year ago, I’ve never been bowled over enough by someone to either a) know they’d be important or b) fall in love.
Except this one time.
To be fair, it wasn’t the instant I met him. In fact it was some time after that. Trying to recall exactly when it was that I knew that he’d play a role of importance is difficult, especially considering until Easter Friday I had shoved any thought or recollection of the individual into the deepest corner of 2003, when I had last seen him.
But as only old friends can do, over a glass of wine (rather large I should add) a question was asked of love. Of falling in love, and of being in love. Of the childhood infatuation we named love and of the reality of an adult, more mature decision of love that we sometimes call marriage. And like only old friends are able to ask the blunt, direct and undeniably honest questions, they also have the history to answer them for you.
Let’s call him Ben, to protect his identity I mean. His name isn’t Ben, or a derivative of Ben at all of course. But for ease, Ben seems like a good choice to name him.
I last saw Ben in an evening in 2003, a few weeks before I was to leave for the UK, when he asked me to stay. He also may have mentioned that the request was cheeky (it was), considering it may be too little too late. It was in fact, far too little too late, but very flattering and closure all the same. You see, Ben didn’t become important enough to change my life in 2003. It was (quite) a few years before that.
Yesterday, after a random Skype conversation that included how we all have a novel within us, my old friend sent me recent pictures of Ben. She’d found them accidentally (or not so much) through a series of clicks on instagram. You know how it goes, one minute you’re looking at a picture of the seapoint Prom, the next you’re scrolling through someone’s life highlights (granted this happens more on facebook, but this time – it was on instagram). And she had found him, someone I hadn’t heard of or seen in 12 years.
He looked different, but the same. Married. Which really shouldn’t be a surprise – he’s 35 and aren’t we all? I suddenly could hear his laugh, and see his smile as clearly as if I’d seen him yesterday. And I started recalling the memories of a time from long before and realising just how much of an impact they had on me (back then).
I still must admit I didn’t know his importance or feel anything the actual moment I met him (because if I’m honest, I don’t recall meeting him). My answer remains the same that in a single meeting, you can’t possibly know the importance of someone. But from a first touch (and I’m talking of the most innocent kind, because this is (mostly) a PG blog and this exact story backdates to teen years) I did know. I had just forgotten.
So.. as it goes with reflection on your past stories, I started thinking of people I’ve met along life’s way and in the interest of not just being stubborn, I tried to be honest about their importance, if, and mostly, when exactly I knew it. It goes without saying that reflection like this leads to two thoughts about past people:
1. Why the hell did I spend so many weeks/months/years thinking of/being with “person” when if I’m honest, I knew they would be nothing more than a blip? (shudders at the thought of indicated people)
2. I wonder how that person is… they were important (also special. They were special and important. Not necessarily in a good way though. Maybe ‘They changed how I viewed the world’ should really be what I think).
After point two, I started to think about when I knew. Challenging… as you really do meet a lot of people in life, but if you give it the thought it deserves (and does it deserve the thought? perhaps it does) – I recall the moments, the exact smile, conversation, and feeling when I knew these people would have an impact on how I took the world on from that point onwards.
I can’t give too much value to one single character who breezed in in my teens, and whirl-winded my life in 3 short (but long) weeks. But I can be honest and admit to knowing he was going to be important. And as a result, and eye-opening one, I can actually acknowledge the moments after this point when I knew more people would become important.
All with marvellous hindsight ofcourse.