She and I climbed out of the taxi and stumbled towards the entrance. Once in, I just stood there, not really looking at anything in particular. There was actually too much to stare at, but the strobe-lights, neon tubes of numerous colors splattered around the black box room, and the bass turned up beyond a reasonable level made it difficult to focus. I was slipping into a dream-like state until my friend yelled in my ear asking me if I wanted a drink. I shook my head. She walked off, annoyed.
She was ticked from earlier of trying to convince me for an hour to go out after the pubs closed. I was tired and had an early trip to Canterbury the next day. I really didn’t want to go out again, tagging along as she got more intoxicated and belligerent while out on the prowl. But I complied because I was tired of hearing the excuses of how much fun I will have once there.
So here I was, standing alone in a London club, surrounded by a crowd that I couldn’t see over and feeling completely free. My friend was often bossy towards me. She was a new friend, so I let it be, but tonight I was simply tired of her attitude and decided to enjoy the brief alone time.
Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of going to London to discover its history and magical allure, and a decade later I made my dream a reality. I worked really hard to get there. Nothing stood in my way up until that point. So why was I letting this person control me, my emotions? Perhaps I did not want to hurt her feelings, but tonight I was fed up and something had to change.
Already a few pints in, I just couldn’t imbibe any more alcohol. My short legs could barely keep my body vertical as is and adding more spirits would mean I would spend the rest of the night holding my hair back as I threw-up my poor choices. It was best to cut myself off. My friend hated that about me. My ability to say no or in other words, not participate in the reason she came to London – to get drunk, meet boys and get laid.
I scuttled to the dance floor and decided to try and work off some of my enjoyment from earlier. Although I am not the greatest at dancing, especially to house music, the earlier Newcastles did a decent job of reducing my inhibitions. Through the flailing arms and bobbing heads, I saw my friend’s face. It was a beet red. Was that just the neon reflections making her look as if she was holding her breath in anger? I couldn’t tell nor did I care. My body and mind had long since forgotten our earlier argument about dragging me to a nightclub at 1:00am.
My friend stood in the corner, sipping on something to calm herself but still able to eye up all the boys. I wasn’t interested. I was alone within a sea of strangers and happier than I had been all day. I wasn’t looking at art at the V & A, watching a stage production of Becket or walking the streets of Kensington, but this isolation was just what I needed until I bumped into someone wearing a Pea coat.
“I am so sorry,” I immediately said but it was inaudible due to the decibel level in the room. He turned around and looked at me strangely. Did he hear me? Did he see my lips move? Wow, he is good looking! Did I say that out loud? I just stood there, staring.
He spoke, but I couldn’t hear him. Did he just apologize? Or is he yelling at me to get out of his way? We stared at each other, and then he leaned down to my ear. My heart skipped a beat upon hearing his voice. He was British, but I still had no idea what he said. I looked back at his hazel eyes and shook my head miming that I couldn’t understand what he was saying because of the noise.
He grabbed my hand and led me from the dance floor. Where we were going, I did not know nor did I care. That was so unlike me.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw my friend, her mouth ajar. I tried to give her a nice smile, showing her that I was having a good time as she claimed. She pursed her lips and threw her plastic cup on the ground in yet another intoxicated tantrum.
By that reaction, I knew I wasn’t going to hear the end of it when we got back home. However, I decided to let this stranger take me wherever he wanted to because I was done being bullied by her. This moment was just a hint for her.
The music was pounding or was that my heart? What was happening here? This wasn’t why I came to this country or maybe it was… now.
He and I stood in the hallway. He spoke first. I honestly didn’t know how to start a conversation at that moment. Again, not my norm as I usually am the inquisitive one, but I answered his rapid-fire questions as fast as he asked them. My name, where I was from, why I was in London, what I was studying, have I traveled around Britain, and then silence.
I was about to speak, this time asking the questions now that I collected myself, somewhat. But he chose a different course for us. His hands suddenly cupped my face. I wasn’t frightened by the change in communication but exhilarated as he slowly touched my skin. He gently caressed his fingers across my face, pushing my hair back. Why does that feel so good?
Soon his face was only a few inches from mine. Could he hear my heart pounding? He gingerly brushed his lips to mine. I accepted his advance and brought my hands to his waist wrapping my fingers in his belt loops. Seconds or minutes passed as we kissed deeply in the London club. My friend was forgotten, so were his until he quickly jerked his head away as he heard his named called.
He turned back to me, disappointed he had to leave. I was disappointed, too. But then saw my friend standing by his group of strapping young Brits – all were way more intoxicated than either of us – and my mood turned quickly to annoyance. My reality just came crashing back into view.
My friend, ready to compete with me, tried to catch one of his friends’ attention: Flipping her hair, smiling too broadly and showing off too much cleavage. No one noticed, thankfully.
Ignoring the female mating ritual down the hallway, I turned back to him hoping for some more time, another kiss, but it he had to leave. How late was it? Couldn’t we stay like this a little longer? Kiss me again.
He handed me his address in Wales and asked me to write him.
He leaned in to kiss me again albeit a brief one but with his hand holding my right cheek. It’s a powerful tool men have in their sexual arsenal of being able to make a girl tingle in all the right places. Damn! Then he said goodbye and walked away.
I calmly stood there despite my intense desire to go with him. My head knew to stay, but my heart and libido almost convinced my head to shut up until my friend walked right up to my face and said, “Where the fuck have you been?!”
Without a beat, “Having the fun time you promised me!”