I just started reading a book called One Day by David Nicholls and it begins with this quote from Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations: “That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it and think how different its course would have been. Pause, you who read this, and think for a long moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on that memorable day.”
It is rare for a book to speak to me from the very first page. Usually it takes a little warming up to and a couple of chapters for me to get used to the style and language. In this case, I have read only a few pages before I had to stop to write this post. I never judge a book by the first few pages because many books I have loved and hold dear to me have started off in the most drab way. I admit, I had never heard of David Nicholls or his book(s?). I had however, seen ads for the movie titled One Day on Romedy Now for many months without ever coming across the movie itself. It looked interesting and the other day while I was browsing channels it was on, almost to the end, but it was on all the same. I watched the last few minutes and it intrigued me. When I watched the credits and found out it was an adaptation from a book, I switched on my Kindle and a few minutes later, I had it in my hand.
Don’t judge me for my Kindle please. I have been an avid reader all my life and I have no qualms about admitting how much I love my Kindle. It was a gift from my husband at a time when I thought I was the love of his life. It was the most thoughtful gift I have ever received in my life and even though I feel a little weird inside for keeping it when I have returned everything else, I can’t help myself. It allows me to read anywhere, anytime (as long as I remember to charge the batteries every now and then) without worrying about ill-treating my book in my bag where it’ll suffer as it gets banged around all day, all books weigh the same on a Kindle and I can read in bed without disturbing the person sleeping beside me, namely my sister. Don’t let your imagination wander too far in my case, if there is any change to the bed sharer (maybe in a decade or two) it’ll be formally announced here.
Back to the point, we do all have that moment, that day which leads to a series of decisions and events good or bad or most likely a mix of both. I can remember mine as clear as day. It was my first date. The first time a boy had asked me out to dinner in a restaurant and come to pick me up. The first time a boy had expressed exclusive interest in me, self-labelled wallflower. I was flattered, I felt grown-up and there was a crackle in the air between us as we sat opposite each other at Turning Point. I kid you not, the restaurant was called Turning Point, an avant-garde (unintentionally I believe) building reminiscent of the Flatiron Building of New York. It was there that the whole story of him and I started, one rainy, damp evening in June of ’05.
I think back and how apt it seems. The turning point of my life started in a place of dining named so. Oh yes, there is the small detail of how the journey derailed 8 years down the line. Shall I foray into that oft-trodden path again? Not tonight. Tonight I want to remember without tainting my memories. That evening in June, he sent shivers down my spine the way he gazed at me as we asked each other preliminary questions and learned a bit of one another’s stories. I had never felt that way with anyone. Like I said, the air crackled. I wasn’t at my most comfortable because it was my first date with someone as good as a stranger and that is the recipe for awkwardness but he seemed to be at ease as he teased me a little and made me blush. He seemed to be interested in me, this might sound pathetic but I kept waiting for someone or even him to suddenly pop up, point and laugh at me – the victim of a practical joke. That will tell you all you need to know about my self-confidence (or lack of).
Despite all my doubts it was a beautiful night for me and I will assume it was for him as well. It spoke of many more meetings, of getting to know each other better and left open the windows through which I feasted on the vistas of my ripe imagination. No, it wasn’t love at first sight for me as he claimed it was for him (not the date, the actual first time he saw me, at college) but I could sense with my female intuition that this man would play some key role in my life. I knew I would always remember that night because it was my first date, it was my first time dining in a restaurant alone with a boy and it was the first time I felt that warm toasty feeling when someone pays you undivided attention, even though it was raining outside and the air conditioning in the restaurant was cranked up higher than necessary.
There was so much possibility hanging in the air, so much left unspoken. By the end of dinner, during which I only nervously picked at my food, I knew he found me attractive. It was a strangely intoxicating feeling. This without alcohol involved, I was underage and in India we don’t usually drink on the first date. Maybe I’m wrong and things are different now, I wouldn’t know. I was a very simple girl back then (I haven’t changed much except that I now know various ways to apply eyeliner, can do basic makeup – though I prefer barefaced and my sense of style has evolved – thank God!), I wore glasses, I had my hair in a ponytail and dressed exclusively in jeans and t-shirts. I never considered myself the girl guys notice (still don’t), I usually fit into the ‘friend of the girl guys notice’ category. It was all new for me, the attention of someone as great as him. So many years have passed since then. I lost his love a long time ago and didn’t know it. If I am honest with myself and you I still love him. I know I shouldn’t but it has come to be an emotion tied to him. Maybe I won’t ever find love again (I positively exude the “committed” vibes men run away from) and that’s okay.
I won’t ever forget that night. Because, you know what, that is the one day/night that would have changed the course of my life if struck out.