* 200 articles. Two years. Whelk. The best of Upsideclown. Might be reprinted.

Do you remember the first time?

30 June 2003
Jamie dreams of amnesia

There's a first time for everything. Which, put another way, means that there are an infinite number of first times, countless events which may or may not ever be repeated, decisions that keep coming back to haunt us, conversations we'll never be able to replay or to take back.

Take you and me. I don't know if you remember the first time you laid eyes on me; if you could go back, like I can, and visualise that room full of strangers, pick out the faces that came to mean something from those that merged into a shallow pool of hazy memories. I don't know if you looked round at each of the faces in turn, rating them, passing judgement, like some imaginary porno Play Your Cards Right - higher! lower! - and I don't know where I fitted in on your scale.

But I do know my own memories. I don't remember the first time I felt attracted to you; but I do remember when I first felt there was a chance we'd get together. Just another night in the bar, when you'd had maybe one glass of wine more than usual with dinner, and the conversation had an edge I'd never felt before, and which remained all through me walking you home and seeing you to your door. And when Steve mentioned it, and I knew it wasn't just my optimistic imagination - I remember a sense of anticipation, imagining how and why and where and when, and just - breathing differently from that moment.

And yet - fate and alcohol being what they are - the memories that should form the cornerstone of this temple in my mind are blurred, indistinct. A party at yours: the sort of noise and laughter and pure sense of joyful freedom that were as essential an ingredient of any early-twenties party as a good compilation tape, and that I took for granted then and miss now. I remember the closeness as I sat with my head on your shoulders while we looked for the number of a cab, then being in a dark, quiet corner all alone with you, until the embarrassment of people reaching over us to get their coats. Somehow moving through the house and ending up in bed, the yes-no-yes-no of a drunken aimless fumble, the rush and release of doing something you'd thought about but never dared to expect.

I know you remember the first time waking up together, how you felt a mixture of surprise and delight to find me pressed against your back, as close as two people can be, your breast in my hand; and I can imagine your reaction to finding us both still wearing our underwear. And you told me how gutted you felt when I disappeared, like I didn't give a damn and it was never going to happen again - when really I was devastated I couldn't stay. I remember us both laughing months later, when you admitted that to me - the first time I could ever be accused of playing it cool.

And I remember the first time we slept together, a few weeks later (and the second and third that night, how I was so keen to prove myself); the first time you told me you loved me, and I had to think for a few days before I could say it back. And the feeling when you told me, drunk but overwhelmingly happy, that you wanted to have my babies - and the embarrassed backtracks and 'not yet, years and years from now's of the next morning, when secretly I was delighted. Your look of joy one time when I walked up to you as we were clearing plates after a dinner party, and gave you the most intense but purest kiss of your life - memories that I want to hold on to.

But then there's the stuff I've been trying to forget. The first few feelings of doubt in my mind. Even before that, the first time I was unfaithful, doing everything in my power to make sure you never needed to find out. Then the other times, as my commitment slowly slipped away and I refused to work harder to make this work. That's the first time I made an active decision not to grow up, not to have an adult relationship which survived its ups and downs, not to admit that I still loved you and would have to accept monogamy as a trade-off for happiness. The first time I broke your heart, the first time I really saw you angry, and I tried to make you hate me so you wouldn't feel it was your fault. But of course, it wasn't your first time in that situation, and I felt even worse for conforming to all the stereotypes I'd been so proud of avoiding before.

And then, not so long ago, the first time I started thinking of you again. The first doubts (not too strong, but certainly there) that, contrary to everything I'd told myself over the last few years, I'd taken the wrong path. The first time I wondered if, given the chance to go back, I'd change anything, anywhere along the line.

The first time I admitted it to anyone, even myself.


This is the fucking archive

Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
13 October 2003. Jamie writes: The Persistence of Memory
22 September 2003. Jamie writes: The Email Eunuch
1 September 2003. Jamie writes: Credo
11 August 2003. Jamie writes: Brad and Jennifer and Me
21 July 2003. Jamie writes: Interruption
30 June 2003. Jamie writes: Do you remember the first time?
12 June 2003. Jamie writes: Forthcoming Attractions
19 May 2003. Jamie writes: Stupid Mistake
28 April 2003. Jamie writes: Hoping and Praying
7 April 2003. Jamie writes: Strangers on a Plane
17 March 2003. Jamie writes: Q&A
24 February 2003. Jamie writes: Altered States
3 February 2003. Jamie writes: How to say goodbye
13 January 2003. Jamie writes: In A League Of Their Own
23 December 2002. Jamie writes: What's in a name?
2 December 2002. Jamie writes: Lies, Damned Lies and Spastics
11 November 2002. Jamie writes: Memoirs of a Gaysian: A Preface
21 October 2002. Jamie writes: Love is blindness
30 September 2002. Jamie writes: Time for bed
9 September 2002. Jamie writes: Angry Exchanges Can Be Puzzling [10]
19 August 2002. Jamie writes: High Speed
29 July 2002. Jamie writes: Firkin Hell
8 July 2002. Jamie writes: Do you, er... haiku?
13 June 2002. Jamie writes: Unnatural Porn Thrillers
20 May 2002. Jamie writes: The Triumphant Return of the Septic Fiveskins
25 April 2002. Jamie writes: Meeting People is Easy
4 April 2002. Jamie writes: I Want I Want I Want
7 March 2002. Jamie writes: The Player of Games
11 February 2002. Jamie writes: Fat Man Walking
17 January 2002. Jamie writes: Passive/Aggressive
3 January 2002. Jamie writes: Love (classified)
29 November 2001. Jamie writes: A Lil' Nite Muzak
5 November 2001. Jamie writes: Natural born liar
11 October 2001. Jamie writes: All I need
17 September 2001. Jamie writes: Postcards From The Edge (of the pool)
23 August 2001. Jamie writes: Class act
30 July 2001. Jamie writes: Ritchie Neville is dead
5 July 2001. Jamie writes: A Letter from God
11 June 2001. Jamie writes: "If it's in French, it must be deep"
17 May 2001. Jamie writes: Reportage
23 April 2001. Jamie writes: Show me the Logos
29 March 2001. Jamie writes: Sobering Thoughts
8 March 2001. Jamie writes: Stupid, Stupid, Stupid
8 February 2001. Jamie writes: Spent
15 January 2001. Jamie writes: Full to the brim
21 December 2000. Jamie writes: fuck xmas
27 November 2000. Jamie writes: Eye Candy
2 November 2000. Jamie writes: World-wide-web?
9 October 2000. Jamie writes: Kids' stuff
14 September 2000. Jamie writes: Scatological Warfare
21 August 2000. Jamie writes: I can't stand up (for falling clowns)
10 July 2000. Jamie writes: The Etymology of Greatness

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