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  • Yesterday, I had a meeting with a woman who is starting up a new festival to talk about whether I'd like to be involved. I said yes. But that isn't what this story is about.

    While we were talking about the way that technology impacts on how we communicate, conceive of intimacy, and how we make connections, she got suddenly very excited. She said, 'I have something you need to see!'

    She pulled a yellow and black Sony walkman out of her bag. The picture above is the item itself, in her hands, in Cornerhouse Manchester. I had not seen one of those for a long time, but it reminded me of how much I used to love making mix tapes. Many of my love affairs from a me that doesn't exist anymore centred around the creating of mix tapes. I know this isn't a solitary experience - lots of people have remarked with sadness about the end of the mix tape. The playlist isn't quite the same thing, although is a lovely little project that captures a bit of the aesthetic pleasure of a mix tape, albeit minus the embodied experience of creating the packaging, putting it in the walkman, hearing the grainy sound.

    My encounter with the walkman, and the memory of mix tapes long gone, reminded me of my first love. I looked for a photo, but it's been so long that I couldn't find one. In fact, it's been so long that I can't remember his surname. Here is what I can remember:
    -His name was Michael and his surname started with an M (am I making that up?)
    -We had a summer love affair that was never consummated when I was 17.
    -We kissed and we flirted and we had conversations that felt like they were changing the world around us.
    -He was also dating a friend of mine, but I didn't know that at the time. Her name was (is) Amy.
    -I used to drive over to his house late at night and he would sneak out of his bedroom window because he didn't want his parents to know what we were up to. We'd walk from his house through the neighbourhood, often onto a nearby golf course, and we'd talk about whatever we could think of.
    -He wanted to be a marine biologist and, for a brief moment, his desire made me think I wanted to be one too.
    -He gave me a gift once, which was a pouch filled with smelly things. He made it. I remember it had dried orange in it.
    -I made him a mix tape that heavily featured Depeche Mode, the Cure, Siousxie and the Banshees, Echo and the Bunneymen, Tones on Tail and other angst-ridden music from the early 90s/late 80s. It had an orange cover.
    -Once, when I was heading to his house for our late night rendezvous, I ran a red light and was pulled over by a police officer. I told him that I was going to meet someone special. The policeman said, 'Okay. I won't give you a ticket, but you better treat her right.' I promised I would.

    At the end of our summer of love, after a few kisses, lots of walking, talking and imagining the future, I moved to another city briefly. It was at this time that I discovered his other (female) affair. He called me often, told me he was confused, admitted that he thought he liked her more.

    I said I understood, but really my heart was breaking from the moment we first touched hands laying on the grass. I knew, somewhere inside, that he was never going to be the one for me. But it didn't make it feel any better when he finally told me.
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