Is This Love That I’m Feelin?
The new term began and with that came new changes. no longer were we based at Kilburn, but in an old building called Dollis Hill House situated on Dollis Hill. Nowhere near to Kilburn Poly for a quick trek between classes for a round of Black Jack. This indeed was going to be a very difficult year.
Dollis Hill House, the name was fitting as the house was literally on a hill! surrounded by houses, no shops, no fast food joints… we were stuck, I was stuck. This was a year that truly was about getting serious. Our tutorial kitchen was huge with many workstations with individual cookers, cupboards with pots, pans and utensils. It was very professional and I can’t lie, it made me feel very prestigious like I was on my way to becoming a big time chef. I was on my way to being somebody, not just anybody, somebody.
Our year group settled down in our new surroundings quickly and got our heads down as we were taught more technical skills in culinary art. All the basic cooking skills in year 1 had equipped us for this next stage, things were about to get interesting.
To my surprise Bernells mother worked in the students cafeteria and she made the best food, from Jamaican patties, English pies to Cornish pasties, it was all so tasty. She was so funny too with her unique sarcasm and had a hearty laugh that cheered you up on dull days.
Our timetable allowed for long periods of free-time which I didn’t expect and was very grateful for. Bernell took me to her old high school where some of her best friends were studying in sixth form. I had lost touch with all mines except one Jane Wilcock.
Bernells friends were super cool, there was the twin brothers Saul & Patrick Clackston and her best friends Toni Jacobs & Kacee Rogers. It didn’t take long for me to be part of the group, after all I was kinda the outside girl coming in. The jokes the laughter, I fell in love with them all. I got on especially well with Saul, we kinda clicked and our eyes always caught each other that made us blush. Berns not being no fool, saw the connection and one day pulled me aside for a little iddy biddy chat. She knew my track record and Saul was like her brother, no way in hell did she want him to be hurt/used by me. I reassured her that I liked him and I wouldn’t do anything bad (not intentionally)! Anyway, me and Saul talked but nothing was really going on.
There were two days that we had had classes at Kilburn Poly. I was upstairs when Bernell entered the room and said Saul was downstairs in the lobby to see me.. Me, not Bernell, wow my heart started to skip. I felt good, I felt special, he wasn’t like the other guys I had been with, he seemed ‘genuine’ kind, respectful, interested in me and not necessarily my body. I loved being in his company, I smiled at everything he said even if it wasn’t meant to be funny.
I went down to the lobby and there he was with the sweetest smile. He asked if we can talk outside, not sure what to expect I agreed and went outside with him. Standing at the side of the stairs he looked at me for what seemed like ages then he said it… “I’ve come to ask if you’d go out with me, if you’d be my girl?” In my imagination my legs turned to jelly it was swaying like I was a wave on the shores of the Caribbean Sea! I tried my hardest to look cool, holding… no sucking in my extended grin, I managed a decent enough smile as I said yes.
I had a pep in my step, I smiled all the time. Saul was so mature and spoke about stuff that was interesting. My mum was a seamstress and literally made all my clothes. Saul was my greatest fan, he loved fashion and was very particular in how we dressed and every time we went out we would be ‘thee couple’ best dressed in our own fashion. It wasn’t until Bernell made a joke about me still going good with Saul, that I realised we had been going out with each other for over four weeks.. four! and the biggest shock was we hadn’t even had sex. Everything about this relationship was strange, different, special. It was real, I was a grown up teenager. Not abused, not used, I knew he liked me a lot however I’m not sure if it was love. I mean what was love? after all the boys/men that I’d been with or had me, wasn’t that love? and if that was what love was then why didn’t Saul do to me what they did? yet he treated me like I would imagined REAL love to be. I was confused
College was going good, I engaged in most of the lessons. I always struggled with the theory but I was better at it than I was at school. Our weeks and months were much of the same, studies, hanging out, chilling with friends. I had a bestie outside of the group my cousin Shantel. Shantel lived in East London and nearly every weekend we would be in each others houses, mostly me at hers.
Our parents, well our mums, allowed us to go out on a Friday/Saturday night but at a price! no matter what time we got in we were either awoken early in the morning to either clean on Saturdays or cook Sunday dinner.
There were times we joined together with Bernel, Toni, Kacee, Patrick and Saul. Going out as a group was a blast but overtime I began to resent it all. Why? well it was the only time Saul & I went out!
Months turned to a year…can you believe it? one year, same guy, not swayed by another. I was in love… wasn’t I? I had a great relationship with his parents and brother and extended family, I just became part of their family and I think that’s mostly what I loved. I belonged.
I went to his house often and stayed for dinner. Saul loved cooking and often started off the cooking whilst his mum travelled home from work. There were times he came over to mines…along with the rest of the troops! to be honest there was no way I would feel comfortable if it was just me and him at my house. Mum really liked Saul and his parents and they were invited to my mum and dads random house parties all the time. If there was one thing my parents could do, was hold the best of the best house parties. My dad was neither here nor there when it came to Saul. I had grown to dislike my dad anyway, our relationship was made up of two words, ‘morning’ and ‘night!’
Seriously though, as much as it annoyed me, it made no sense anyone of my friends let alone a boyfriend come over to mines as we weren’t allowed to be in my bedroom. Our house had a through lounge so there was no privacy to just chill, share jokes and just be ourselves. At Sauls we were allowed to chill in his bedroom. It was so much fun and we talked for ages about anything and everything, and that I guess was where the glitch was. It was like we were just best friends, the only thing that made us seem different from the rest was that we held hands, he put his arm around me when we walked and we kissed on the lips… literally! no intimacy, no tongue in cheek, just an extended long peck on the lips. Which however felt awesome, I felt special and warm but in the past, that was just the starters, now it was the three course meal in one! I hated the way men/boys treated me in the pass but I shamefully missed it, I missed their touch as it meant I was desired, attractive. This new kind of love I just didn’t understand. But I was getting fed up, bored, my last couple of boyfriends (if I can call them that) had cars, at least we went out ON OUR OWN… you know, parties, clubs, wine bars. All under cover hiding from my mum. I was in a safe place with Saul, too safe. Was this what married life was going to be all about???
Little arguments started to happen between Saul and I, silly things but I was starting to get resentful. Deep down I liked the parties I went to with my older brothers and sister. I started going out with them as I had gotten to 18, they allowed me to tag along. Mixing with their friends was so much more cooler. I realised what my problem was…. immaturity! hanging with guys my own age was not cutting it with me, they were not mature enough and most of them were not driving…Lord how I missed not riding in a car to go out on a date or be picked up or dropped off. Oh and I smoked, Saul didn’t and I always felt bad about that. Truth be known, it was weird not having more intimacy, I was grateful I guessed that I was left alone but yet my body seemed to cry to be touched. I became angry within myself for this to be even confusing me. Why?
So it was Saturday and once again there was bad feelings between Saul & I. Heaven knows what the difference of opinion was this time, I just remember us being snappy and sarcastic and leaving his house VEX. I felt so trapped, to break up with him was like breaking up with his whole family and I hated the fact everyone would see me at fault. I mean, what was the matter with me? why could I not be satisfied with ‘simple, routine, pecks on the lips?’ after all we were only eighteen.
I could feel the hot tears falling from my eyes as I walked the long winding road towards the bus stop. WHYYY was I feeling like this? I couldn’t put a finger on just one thing as it was a multiple of small things that was making the HUGE thing. I was tired, I wasn’t Sauls girlfriend, I was his best friend!
I was in no mood to go home and mum to be demanding housework. Being on my own was not an option, I would only sit and cry. There was no point going to Bernell, Saul was one of her best friends and her voice rang in my ears all the time from the very beginning.. ‘don’t hurt him’ No point talking to Toni or Kacee as even though we grew to be close, I still saw them as Bernells friends first and foremost. How could I possibly say I was falling out of love with our golden boy? Great.
Just then my sister Cam called, she heard how fed up I sounded and her upbeat conversation was just not cutting it. She didn’t give up, in the end she talked me into going out with her and her best friend Pearl that evening to some club. Awwww music to my ears, I needed to dance this off with a straight rum & ice.
Cam called mum to let her know she was taking me out and that I was fine ( no mobile phones back then). So I re routed and off to my sisters I headed for a night out. Little did I know that this night would be life changing in more ways that I could ever understand.