Tuesday, 12 February 2008

A trip down memory lane

Yesterday's Fun Monday brought back a few memories for me, as I'm sure it did for a lot of us.

I'd like to write a little bit about the first ex that I mentioned in that post because he was someone that I cared about a lot. And he, in his way, cared for me too and I was always thankful that we remained friends. Truth be told, we probably should never have had a relationship to begin with and, though this will sound a bit cliche, I think we were meant to be just friends.

Keith and I met quite by accident. This was back in the late 80's and a friend and I had just moved into a flat and Keith rang to speak to the lady who owned the place. We got chatting and ended up on the phone for nearly an hour. He was such a charmer! I invited him over for dinner and so began the roller-coaster ride.

Now, Keith was black. I'm not sure if that's the politically correct term these days but it's the term he used so I shall use it here, and my apologies if it offends anyone. I'm not black and 20 years ago that created something of a storm in my neighbourhood. And did we ever have fun exploiting that fact! He drove a black BMW and had no hesitation is announcing to all and sundry that it was his "Black Man Wagon"...this man had no hang-ups whatsoever about his race! He was incredibly well educated and spoke with just as many plums in his mouth as any member of the landed gentry. That always threw people too!

The fun we had....we dressed up in black tie to go to the opera or just for the fun of it to go to the restaurant around the corner. We dressed in jeans and t-shirts to go to events where we should have worn black tie and didn't give a hoot. We went to country hotels for weekends and the decision about who paid the bill was based on the outcome of a rugby match. I helped him furnish his flat.....and we stood in the shop having an hysterical discussion about which kitchen he should choose. He wanted the most expensive which was ridiculous because he never cooked and always ate out or had take-away.

Keith coined my nickname, Aoj, which were my initials, and it's stuck to this day. I called him DK, which were his initials. I bought him flowers, he bought me whiskey. Go figure, it was that kind of relationship. My mum and step-father came to stay and we took them out for dinner and had the whole restaurant in hysterical uproar as we told more and more outrageous stories and jokes.

I took him home to Wales to meet my family on my Grampa's 70th birthday. I will admit that I was a little unsure as to how my family would react. They were used to me having wacky boyfriends but in the town I grew up in, a black face was very uncommon. I needn't have worried. He won my family over with his charm and every single one of them adored him - from the kids to my Grampa. They loved him. To this day my mum still mentions him.

But the fun faded and he found someone else. I knew it was on the cards and it seemed inevitable that we would go our separate ways. In some ways I was relieved. I needed him more as a friend than I did as a lover.

Life moved on and we'd speak from time to time. He always worried about me as I crashed from relationship to relationship and he was the one I turned to in troubled times to talk to. He always could say the right thing to set me back on my feet again.

Then came the day I met Himself and I knew this was the one. I was so happy that I rang Keith at work to tell him. I knew he would be so happy for me. I will never forget that telephone call for the rest of my life. One of his colleagues answered and told me that Keith had had a massive heart attack and had died. On his 40th birthday just a few weeks before. I was in total shock. One of my friends had to ring back to get more details because I was not in a state to string two words together.

The following Sunday morning I bought flowers and visited his grave to say my goodbyes. I still can't believe that he's not out there somewhere living life to the full as he always did.

I am not a religious person and I don't know what happens to us after death but there have been times since when I knew he was with me. I would feel his prescence so strongly that I felt that if I had turned around I would see him standing there with a silly grin on his face saying "Aoj, I worry about you".

He may be gone but he's still out there somewhere looking out for me, just like he always did.

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