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  • Can your first love be your last love? How quickly can that first love appear? Can it really be love after one night, and if you never see them again, was that really love, or a fantasy that you blew life into afterwards? Is there a smallest unit of love: a length of time together, a degree of intensity, a glance, beyond which love cannot reach?

    These are questions that bug me as I try to figure out if mine is a love story or a mistake.

    I never saw myself falling in love. Those words felt odd in my mouth. I’m not being bleak, but the uncomfortable dates, car crash flings and dismal relationships surrounding me didn’t appeal. The deception and disappointment that so often follow those breathy proclamations of eternal love. And if they couldn’t manage it, those people who had so much more faith in the whole game, well. Let’s just say I didn’t feel lucky.

    I was always happy enough when I met someone I could get on with for a sustained period of time. Not very epic, but it felt less dramatic. More…reasonable.

    I never saw myself falling in love. Until I met K.

    Over the last few decades I’ve met lots of people. You can’t help it. Worked with them, traveled with them, got wasted with them, argued and fooled around. You learn about others. What kind of people work for you. Whether you’re going to embark on a tremendous friendship, or they’re going to irritate you within the hour. So, when I say I have never met someone like K, I measure her against the hundreds of friends and lovers and thousands of other randoms who have whirled past over the years. I have never met anyone like her.

    After a lifetime of laughing at the notion of the one, I had found her. Unfortunately, she was as dismissive of the one as I had been before meeting her. I thought I had the lion heart, but I was a bunny, soft and hopeless in the presence of someone who cared less.

    As I begged her to stay for one more night, for one more fucking hour, and she just circled out of reach of my desperate hands, smiling and blowing kisses at me as she left, I knew that she’d heard it all before. That her attractiveness, her fit, was some kind of next level compatibility, like those universal adaptors that work all round the world. Wherever she went she’d be greeted with a similar needy passion. Which gave her an invulnerability. That just made me want her more.

    Even after she’d gone, I didn’t believe I wouldn’t see her again. These days, you don’t really lose people. I sat there, still dazed from the afterglow of the best night of my life, laughing at myself that I was actually forming those words in my head.

    But that was it. Over the next few days, I realised that she had left nothing behind her, that nobody knew her, that I had none of the normal ways of keeping in touch, of tracking her down. I sat home, grieving, in that terrible state where, without one specific, unique person, life hardly seems possible.

    To fill the emptiness, I started scribbling all the things she’d said. The jokes, the stories, the put downs, the glimpses of her past she’d given me. I realized how much we’d spoken. How open she’d been. If you know you’re leaving soon, why hold anything back. It didn’t make me happier, I figured I’d been given the same show that everyone else got, it’s not like she made a secret of her appetites or wanderlust, but it kept her in my head, stopped her dissolving.

    They say you always fall in love with the people you write about. I’d already fallen in love with her before I wrote a word. Continuing to write about her is the only way I can pretend she’s still here with me.

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