I arrived at University in the September, and moved into student dorms/halls of residence (depending on where you live) which were at the edge of the city. The halls I was in were quite small, there were only maybe 250 students there, spread out into blocks. I got there on the Friday, and on the Saturday my best friend from school came to spend the night at mine for some fun. We were hanging out before we had dinner at the reception area where some people were still arriving and getting their keys, and a girl I later learned was called M arrived with her suitcase and parents in toe. It turned out (I learned by eavesdropping on her conversation with the receptionist) that she was from central Europe, sparking off what I’ve called my central European fetish and lending itself well to my friends’ calling her The Slov, which somehow sounds insulting even though it’s not really a word.
A few weeks later – it must only have been the beginning of November, if that, that by some string of events I’d found myself in her room one Friday night with a bottle of Bacardi (it was a present from my grandmother, of all people. She gave me it before I left, along with a hardback black notebook, “for your special addresses”. She clearly saw the writing on the wall). I knew she had a boyfriend, back in her home country, and I’d even seen him once when he’d come over to visit her, but clearly my 17-year-old brain didn’t care. We talked ourselves in circles for hours culminating in me eventually asking outright whether I could kiss her. “You can try,” she said. I did.
We ended up on her bed, not naked but topless at first, and I was confronted with boobs for the first time in a sexual context which baffled me. What the fuck do I do with these? I thought. It turns out they’re actually quite good fun when you get the hang of them though. That night we only had oral (which I was later told on no uncertain terms that I was abysmal at, it being the first time I’d gone down on a girl), but we were up for hours having fun in just about every other way we could think of too. I think in the end I was awake for a day and a half and then had to go and sleep until Monday.
That lead into what can only reasonably be described as a tempestuous relationship for the rest of that academic year, the following summer, and a full semester-and-a-half of the academic year which followed it. For most of that time we were actually a couple, which looking back on it is weird because she was insufferable a lot of the time as was I, and we weren’t very compatible personalities either. Still, it was what it was; she was the first person I ever said “I love you” to in a romantic way, and at the time I meant it. The first time we had sex in the traditional understanding of the word must have been in either the January or February following that first encounter, after she’d definitively split up with her ex and we’d become a couple. I think the only thing that was normal and healthy about our relationship long-term might actually have been the sex, come to think of it.
Three years after the first night we spent together I was at a party not far from where I live now, and who should turn out to be there by sheer coincidence but a girl that M went to school with in her home country and her boyfriend, who was – you’ve guessed it – M’s ex from that same time. After we worked that out we had quite a good laugh for the first while until either he worked out which of M’s exes I was or got drunk enough to do what he’d wanted to do in the beginning, and he jumped me from behind and punched me in the face a few times. It was a bit scary at the time but looking back on it now just seems a bit ridiculous; firstly, that he was even there in the first place, and secondly, that three years on he still cared enough about it. Masculine pride, eh?