We ran into the nearest bar together. It was 9pm. The night was in full swing. I could see crowds of people around a grand piano. No one was dancing yet, but the music was loud and the atmosphere lively. I revelled in the excitement and happiness of it all. Everyone was having so much fun. I began to nod my head gently to the music.
That’s when I realised I was alone. I looked around in panic. I had no idea where my friend had gone. I stopped enjoying the music. Nerves surged through me. I didn’t want to be here alone. I was under-dressed and not ready for a night out at all. Especially not by myself.
And then I saw her, right in the middle of the dance-floor. Her head was back, her eyes closed, her arms swinging freely as she danced. She was the most beautiful, carefree being I had ever seen. A smile spread across my face.
Dressed for a picnic rather than a night out, in her soft denim shirt and shorts, she stood out among the formally dressed crowd of high heels, dramatic makeup and short dresses. We had enjoyed a day with our friends in the sun. We hadn’t planned on a night out.
But, her carefree smile told me everything. There wasn’t an ounce of self-conscious thought within her. She didn’t care whether she was dressed for a picnic, the gym or a ballroom, she was having fun. I admired the way she closed her eyes as she danced. She genuinely didn’t care about anything. Society’s norms had no hold on her.
I felt a great love in my heart, surging through me. I surprised myself by running to join her. And suddenly, there we were. Two of us, dancing and laughing, spinning each other around, without a care in the world, next to this grand piano and crowds of glamorous people. Her carefree happiness was contagious.
The love I felt for her over the next few months was intense. It translated into kisses on the grass near her student dorms, and drunken fumblings in toilets. I wasn’t sure of her motive, or mine. Did we really fancy each other? Before this point we described ourselves as heterosexual.
We were 18. I was sure we were simply enjoying a healthy experimental phase together. She told me she wanted to practice kissing and touching, so we’d have a head-start with boys in the future. I liked that idea. And I loved the fact she had suggested it in such a blasé manner.
It was an interesting proposition. It was fun and lighthearted, and a little wild. It also made sense. We were both hugely inexperienced and it felt like a safe way of exploring and learning about sex. Yes, there was a limit to what we could do together, but we discussed all the possibilities in hushed tones and giggles.
It was a top secret mission. I wrote about it in my diary at night. I looked forward to the summer, when we planned to start. I imagined how experienced I would be after and what a cool story I would have to tell in the future. I also thought of her vanilla scented hair and wonderful smile. I pictured her long blonde hair and golden skin.
But, the summer came and we didn’t do it. Nothing happened. There was no story to tell or crazy explorations to share. There was just me, alone with the long weeks of the holidays stretched out in front of me. So, I read a lot and saw other friends and spent time with my family. We even went camping for a week.
But, what had become of my wonderful friend? I missed her laugh and the way every mundane activity was transformed into a party. And I felt sad about our lost summer. We finally met, near the end of the holidays. She told me she had met a guy and fallen madly in love. She was animated and happy. I smiled for her and laughed at her fun stories. I was pleased she had her love story.
We saw less and less of each other. I missed her but I understood. Our plan felt like a distant idea. It had always been too dreamlike to execute anyway. Too good to be true. As we drifted apart, I was left with the memory of her from the grand piano night. The way she closed her eyes, put her head back and danced like no one was watching. She made me feel alive. And I will always remember that.