When people ask how FP and I met, I always find myself debating over whether I should give them the potted version or the longer version. The potted version is generally reserved for strangers or those who are evidently uninterested in hearing the longer and slightly complicated version and it goes something like this: I spent a year in France as part of my studies and met FP through a friend of a friend while I was there.
The longer version, however, is really nothing at all like the potted version. In fact, the potted version isn't even very close to the truth, if I really think about it. The longer version is slightly more complicated than the potted version, but it's my favourite. This one goes something like this...
In the summer of 2005, I was due to move to France for 12 months as part of my university studies. Having chosen my uni course almost solely because the third year would be spent studying abroad (I know it's a terrible reason to choose a career path, but in my defence I was only 17 and all I really wanted was to live in France), I was really looking forward to it, couldn't wait to get out there to start a new life in a foreign country. It felt so exotic, so exciting, so adventurous. My one reservation was that despite the fact that French was my major, I was slightly worried about how I was going to cope and I'll tell you for why: My French was horrible. Really rather bad. All I really knew was business French and I was quite sure that the majority of the French population did not speak in business French. I mean, if you were French and you came to Scotland knowing only business English you would probably get beaten up. So, in preparation of moving abroad, I decided to find some Frenchies on the internet who might like to help me practice my terrible French on them.
And that was how I came across Toad (this name is appropriate because he turned out to be a toad in the end. You'll see...). A French guy who lived 'near Paris'. We exchanged light banter on MSN for a few months before I moved to France, although I can't say it ever improved my knowledge of the language, but I was trying and he seemed nice enough so we stayed in contact.
But fast forward a few months until October 2005. I should probably mention that I had a boyfriend waiting for me back home in Edinburgh, and Toad had a live-in girlfriend who he was on the verge of splitting up with. Which was not cool because things had changed at some point between Toad and I, we were chatting online often and the topics of conversation had become more and more personal. It seemed we were no longer trying to improve my French. Perhaps we'd given up, or perhaps we quite enjoyed flirting with each other from afar but after a while, he decided to visit La Rochelle, the town where I was staying. So along he came and I will spare you the details, but it just so happened that over the weeks that were to follow, we ended up becoming an item.
Now, later on, by the beginning of 2006, I'd managed to make things official between Toad and I. There was no longer a Scottish boyfriend in the picture and I was officially invited to meet Toad's friends at his apartment. This was something of a milestone for me, since it had taken him long enough to want to introduce me to his friends, I had begun to think he was ashamed. Which is quite possible because it was at this point when my skin started to erupt into strange, unexplainable lesions and I probably did look a bit like the elephant man. But anyway, I digress. I was invited to meet his best friend Allie and her boyfriend at Toad's apartment. Yes, said best friend was a girl. I was not best pleased, at the time, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise actually...
We were in Toad's apartment - Toad, my flatmate and friend Béa (who had come along for the ride) and me. There was a knock at the door and in came a tall brunette - Allie, I assumed - and behind her was this cute guy. This handsome, adorable, smiley, polite guy. Nervously I introduced myself to Allie with my shaky French and turned to her boyfriend, Anthony, who gave me la bise and sat down beside me. I had come over all hot and flustered and embarrassed, although I couldn't quite put my finger on why. I just knew then that I seemed to really love French boys.
Now, Allie was a really nice girl, it turned out. I didn't seem to have much to worry about between her and Toad, the relationship definitely came across as merely platonic. And as for Anthony, well he and I got on like a house on fire that night. He made an effort to speak English with Béa and me (even though his English was as bad as our French) and appeared really interested in what we had to say. He had this piercing on the top of his ear and he wore a ring through it, a really small silver ring. It made me think that he must have a rebellious side to him and I liked that. It intrigued me. I wanted to get to know more about his rebellious side.
He played in a band, I learned. I asked him to teach me my favourite song on the guitar: Green Day's Wake Me Up When September Ends. He perched on the arm of the sofa and placed my fingertips on the right frets and when he touched my fingers, I felt like electricity was buzzing up and down my arms. Allie is a really lucky girl, I remember thinking.
A couple of nights after I had met Allie and her boyfriend, I turned on my computer to find I had a friend request from Anthony on MSN. I squealed with delight as I shared my news with Béa, who had found him just as intruiging as I had. I clicked 'Yes' and realised that he was online at that precise moment.
Hey, he said.
Hey, I replied, all of a sudden shy.
Was it ok to add you on MSN? He asked in his funny English. I thought maybe we could chat.
Sure, I said. And so we did chat. We chatted online for two months until the next time we saw one another back at Toad's apartment in April.
This time, things were different. Anthony and I spent most of the night talking to one another. Béa hadn't come and Toad was busy entertaining people and - God he had invited a load of boring old eejits. All very academic people who made me feel stupid. The good thing about Anthony was that he was clearly intelligent but he didn't make me full stupid. He didn't have to rub his intelligence in people's faces. We sat in the corner of the room just chatting and laughing, talking about everything and nothing all at the same time. He must have noticed the lesion that was just beginning to show on my face. Must have seen that my skin wasn't quite right. But if he did he didn't make it obvious. And whats more is that when we were talking together just the two of us, he made me forget about it altogether.
That was the night he made me a Scoobidoo helicopter and that was also the night I realised that I don't like French boys, I just rather liked Anthony.
But I was with Toad. And he was with Allie.
And he loved Allie.
As you can see the long version is rather long so I'm splitting it up into seperate posts. I have a load of ironing to do so I shall continue tomorrow! Night blogosphere!