Never Give Up

My teenage years were relatively innocent. I was an ingenue and a hopeless romantic – I loved with abandon, in great quantity and with huge generosity. I dedicated a lot of time and effort to it. To my great vexation, however, there was very little in the way of reciprocation and boyfriends persistently eluded me.

Instead I concentrated on writing in my diary and writing up homework. The universe rewarded me with good grades but as Year 11 got under way I was coming up Sweet Sixteen and my prayers for true love were still going unanswered. Somewhat of a dark time.

In February of Year 11 I headed off on my school’s Senior Ski Trip. Seemingly a gift from God, this trip was exclusive to pupils in Years 11, 12 and 13… Seven days and seven nights with a handful of the oldest and most sought-after boys in the school?? Is this even legal, we asked ourselves. Naturally my Mum was way ahead of the curve on this and managed to convince me that my old (all-in-one) pink ski suit was still up to the job. And a more potent form of contraception there could not have been.

But there was no holding my heart back. And on the ski trip I met Joe.

Joe was funny and sweet and lovely. We were in the same ski school group, so I got to hang out with him every single day. My banter was limited but that was OK as my suit did most of the talking. We had a few jokes and he had the best smile. He rocked my tiny world.

I spent the 27-hour coach journey home staring at him. Mainly in the dark, and from five seat-rows in front. He was in Year 13. Untouchable.

Back at school, I spent the Summer Term endlessly thinking about him. In the months that followed there were a handful of thunderbolt moments – when I’d happen to cross paths with him in a busy Humanities or Modern Languages school corridor. Me, bopping around in my uniform. Joe, striding huge man-strides, casual and gorgeous in his own clothes and with the swagger that only a Year 13 man-child can pull off.

In late May my friends and I were preparing to sit our GCSEs. The last day of Year 11 was filled with excitement. We were feted and celebrated. Hatchets were buried. Photos were taken. The school gates were opened and we drifted out into a world that was almost ours.

We collapsed in a heap of laughter on the local common, soaking up the sunshine. Suddenly Joe appeared in the distance, with three of his mates. My heart somersaulted into my mouth. It had been 23 days and counting since I’d seen him last. My friends pressed me to approach him, once and for all. What did I have to lose? We were both School Leavers after all.

But seriously. I should just make my way across this field? Alone? Exposed? I was far from convinced.

All of a sudden Joe got to his feet and I watched in horror as he started to walk AWAY. Was I going to miss my chance? I could feel the panic rising.

So I ran. I ran the gauntlet of young love. Of desire. Of potential total fucking humiliation. Across a field. In stilettos. I can only remember the rush of blood in my ears and wind in my hair. I flew past his friends and shouted his name. Oh my god I shouted his name.

“JOE”

He stopped, turned around and the world just stood still.

I’m not sure if you remember me? I said. I’m Lucy. We were on the ski trip together? The thing is, I saw you leaving and I thought I might not get the chance to do this again, so I wanted to tell you that I really liked you on the trip and I still do, like you, that is.

Of course I remember you Lucy, Joe smiled. He explained that he was only going across the road to get a beer, did I want to come with him? I said yes. We walked. We talked. We laughed. He took my hand and we KISSED. And the sun just kept on shining all day, all evening and all summer.

Me and Joe. I couldn’t believe it.

The last day of school and a boyfriend in the bag. At last.