(Stop me if you've heard this one.)
It was a Thursday. First week of term, so nothing for me to do but wallow in self pity. I'd seen my ex earlier, and we'd had a good chat about summer and the next year and his hopes of finding a girlfriend at a Wine Soc social. Felt pretty good to still be friends and realise we weren't going to do anything daft like get back together - even when he kissed me goodbye on the lips it felt more like closure than the start of anything. But I was still hung up on other crushes and other hurts. As the afternoon ticked by I got lonely and desperate to see a particular someone again and went to the maths department (now in shiny new surroundings in Goodricke). I sat on the seating in the corridor, hoping pathetically that he'd walk by or I could catch him on his way out of coffee.
I can't even remember if I did see him.
I started crying. The intense, aching, agony of wanting even the briefest of contacts with someone you know you can't have has always been more than I can cope handle. These days I hide or seek out hugs. But back then I was a passive-aggressive, emotionally blackmailing drama queen, and couldn't bear the thought of people not knowing how badly I hurt. So I sat in public and cried. Then curled up into a ball, lay there and sobbed my heart out. Hoping, of course, that someone would stop and help.
I was vaguely aware of someone stopping and sitting on the floor next to me. I didn't know who it was, but I knew who it wasn't so I had no intention of paying them any attention. I just stayed still, face hidden, hoping they'd go away. I must have stopped crying at some point. And waited for them to give up and go away so I could slump off back to my room. Or even just say something, so I could brush them off and leave. I didn't quite have the courage to just up and go. Or maybe I was still hoping they'd get someone else. I can't remember. Anyway, I hid.
Eventually, I heard movement as the person shifted their weight slightly and I cautiously looked up. I recognised him as one of the new postgrads.
"Don't worry," he said. "I'm not going anywhere." More true than either of us could have imagined at the time.
I started to mumble apologies, which he told me were unnecessary, and wipe the tears away and brush my hair back from my face. I may have tried to suggest that I'd better go, but his easy going empathy disarmed me somewhat - I wasn't used to people not asking what the matter was. Then he suggested coffee and that was it. No way I was going to turn down coffee.
We sat, we chatted. Then we went for a walk. Then he suggested he cook tea. We had what can really only be described as a "student meal" - bacon in a plum sauce with noodles. Made all the more problematic by the fact he only had one set of cutlery - I got to have the knife and fork and had to cut up his bacon for him so he could eat it with a spoon. We ate, drank wine, listened to music (and he introduced me to Weird Al, thus leading to possibly the geekiest "our song" ever - The Saga Begins), talked and laughed. Laughed so much. We were in hysterics for most of the evening - nerves probably, but he still makes me laugh so I can't stop. And there was kissing and even some fondling, and he walked me home at the end of night.
And I couldn't wait to see him again.
Postscript: Five years ago today we were stood in our new house with the baby due at the end of the month. We were about to go out (for lunch, I think) with my parents when my mum spotted the cards on the mantelpiece.
"Oh, what's the occasion?"
"It's our anniversary," we explained. "We met one year ago today."
"One year?" She sounded surprised. "Is that all?"
Just about everyone had said it at some point during that year - it seems like we've known each other a lot longer. And I think that's what made me so sure we were right for each other - it seemed so natural, even to other people, to the point where it felt it had always been this way. And it always will.
It's unimaginable any other way.