May 2017 / A blog birthday & key life events / reading time: 5 minutes (1300 words)
Today is my blog birthday. One year of blogging on the first Monday of every month (or a Tuesday if Monday’s a bank holiday ).
As the birthday blog post, of course, I had great plans for this 12th blog post. It was going to find the connection between my hour of writing in the spare room and the Syrian Civil War, the baby gestating in a friend’s wife’s womb and the birth of the universe. And it would have done all of that, I’m sure of it, but my wife put the radio on in our room and even from the spare room I heard
an 80s keyboard throb
A cello slip in and hover over it
and then an echoey surge as the vocals kick in
And I’m transported back to One Day that changed my life…
I just died in your arms tonight!
It’s 1986. I’m 12 years old and at my school disco in our international school hall in Paris. And what a disco! It has all mod cons. There’s a strobe machine that transforms all dance movements into cool robot dances. And there’s a glitter ball that they put on for the slow songs. And my hair is slicked up with gel as we rock out to Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’, the only song possibly cooler than me.
But when the strobe light goes off and the glitter ball lights up and the slow songs starts, the boys and girls sit on opposite sides of the room to each other. I sit clamped in my seat too scared to move. However the keyboard throbs then the cello slips in and she walks over to me and asks me to dance.
She’s in my class. I really like her so I stand up. It’s too dark to see me blush. We step on to the dance floor among the other kids and shuffle around. My arms are around her waist and her hands behind my neck.
And the miracle happens half way into the song – she puts her head on my shoulder – and it stays there for the rest of the song.
Oh I, I just died in your arms tonight
It must’ve been something you said
I just died in your arms tonight
And that was it. All it took was the one dance. A week later I walked over to her house to take her out on our first date. I liked horror films. She didn’t, but put up with one for me that day. She’s put up with a lot over the years. Despite our parents not taking us seriously, we kept in contact by letter and phone during my subsequent moves to other countries all through out our teens. Yes, we dated others, but no one else mattered the same way. She surprised me by turning up at my college graduation in Dublin and we’ve never been apart since.
And when we married fourteen years ago she arranged secretly for Nick Van Eede, singer and songwriter of Cutting Crew, to turn up and do an acoustic performance of our song for our first dance.
No. No, he didn’t. And no she didn’t. I apologise. That’s not even a photo from my wedding. Sorry.
Yes, I did dance with her. Yes, she did put her head on my shoulder, but I never asked her out on a date and we never danced again. In fact we sort of ignored each other in school. Soon enough I moved away to another country and that was that. And when I got married it was to someone else who I love dearly and our first dance was to a Springsteen track. And, no, he wasn’t there to sing it for us.
So why am I going on about this One Day more than 30 years later? There have been much bigger days in my life – such as the day I met my now wife – which have visibly altered the course of my life. So why have I ended up writing about it here? There must be a reason it seemed to change everything for me.
Cheesy 80s rock can’t be the reason, can it? I did a little research for this blog (instead of just making everything up). I found out that Cutting Crew first released that song in the UK in July 1986. France must have been around the same time if not later. If the disco took place near the end of the 1985/86 school as I remember it, it’s quite likely we danced to another song entirely.
So maybe the reason this day stays with me as it’s proof it’s because I’ve always been a writer, filling in the blanks with my imagination. Imagining first dates. Re-imagining one dance with a different soundtrack. Rewriting it in my mind till it achieved a height of meaning and significance far beyond what it had in the first place.
But even if I’m getting the memory wrong, perhap one reason this One Days matters is because I’ve never forgetten how I felt that night. Whatever song it was, she made me feel for a few minutes like the most important person in the world and no one ever forgets that.
Perhaps most of all, this One Day changed my life, because, imperfect as I was and am, she showed me that I could be loved by someone other than my parents. That there might be someone out there for me.
I’m shaking things up. After one year of blogging on whatever took my fancy each month, I’m going to try something new. When I first posted this blog on Tuesday 2nd May I outlined my plans for the new year, but today on Friday 5th May I’m not so sure of that anymore and I’ve removed them from this blogpost.
The joy of being my own publisher is that, although it doesn’t pay well, it does allow me complete freedom to change my mind. So I’m going to think a little and plan a little and then get writing again. I might miss a month, but I’ll be back soon.
While I’m MIA, if you’ve never read any of my blog back catalogue here’s the stories that were most popular or of which I’m most proud: