I decided to watch Dirty Dancing last night, between 9 and bed. I’d never seen it before, but since watching it, I can see why Salsa is more popular than Lindy (compare with ‘Swing Kids’ and you’ll understand).
Towards the end of the film, I realised that the main character looks a lot like Marci’s kid sister. I say kid, but Kristi’s probably older than Marci ever was by now, and is engaged to be married. I think that everyone in that family is [/was] beautiful, in some delightfully elegant/awkward way (I’m waiting for Jared to say something here). I kind of get the feeling that even if Marci were still around, we might still be attending another family wedding before having our own.
So at any rate: I went to bed thinking about Marci, and it occurred to me that I still haven’t done a proper public summary, and resolved to do so today. In the interests of keeping resolutions, I will start at the beginning:
To set the scene, picture me as a 15 year old, or so, with Terrible Acne (worse than Shanahan’s) back in the days of Windows 2000, and MSN Messenger Plus! with the cinescape Harry Potter Message Boards (yes: they were still called boards rather than forums) as my introduction to the internet proper, and a contact list almost entirely composed of american teenage girls.
The initial encounter went something like this: We were in some group chat with Marci and a friend from some other board. I don’t remember who it was, other than that the other girl was someone I knew better than Marci. Neither can I remember what we were talking about. Probably just growing up and being depressed about body fat, or something girly like that. At some point, this other girl leaves the conversation (I think with the intention of coming back later), so we end up with two chat windows open. We keep talking in the main window, and Marci comes out with *walks towards alsuren* or something, and then in the other window “Play along”. What else could I do? After a few messages back and forth (with no objections from me, as I’d been instructed to play along in the other window) one of us ended up sitting in the other’s lap, and eventually kissing each other. Trying to recall details at this point would be prone to error, but I remember vividly the “play along” part, as it was genius. I think it also became an in joke IRL (In Real Life) as well, and I’ve many times since wanted to do it to someone for real but never had the guts. (If anyone tries that on me for real, I *will* play along, if nothing else because women with that sort of guts are hot as hell.)
The next day, we got talking again. The jist was that I had never kissed anyone before (okay, so I was 15 and ugly as sin), and had wanted my first kiss to be special, so we should really make a go of things. It also turned out that Marci had never kissed anyone before either. She was the self-styled VL (Virgin Lips: don’t worry. I’d never heard the term before either). I never quite worked out whether in Utah, this was considered a good or bad thing, though she always seemed a little depressed about the fact. I suppose she was two years older than me, so it was a little different.
At some point in the next two weeks, I expressed my concern that there was the danger of us getting married without me ever knowing what it was like to be with anyone else. This may have been influenced by my dad’s line in “scary Mormons want to suck you in” comments, though it’s hard to say. I’m not sure whether what happened next says more about her or me: she ended up setting me up with a girl in my class (Charlotte. A plain, quiet girl, and a Christian. It later transpired that she was both slightly skitz, but we won’t dwell on that.)
So that first romance with Marci lasted all of about 2 weeks, but I still count her as both my first kiss and my first love. I always found it harder to tell Marci that I loved her than anyone else, but I suspect that this may be because she is the only person I ever *truly* loved. The relationship with Charlotte lasted for about 3 months, until I realised that I didn’t love her (She seemed very dependant on me, and it occurred to me that I would live just as happily without her. It seemed like it was only her reliance on me that kept us together, which wasn’t healthy. Compare and contrast this with Marci’s attitude.)
In the year that followed, I had one other relationship (Annie, who was a terrible kisser, but strong-willed, intelligent and beautiful to me at the time) and had my heart broken. This relationship also pissed off Mandy, who publicly “went out” with my friend Sam on the boards, who is my oldest friend, and who proceeded to be a complete cock to her. Turned out that this third relationship was the last straw, and she would be ignored no longer.
All of this time, I remained close friends with Marci, who was also dating other people as well, both online and off, but maintains that she never kissed anyone in that time either (though someone did strip off to her on webcam at some point apparently, but I was only told about that later (probably only their shirt or something. I never asked). We’ll come back to that later).
On the year anniversary of our first encounter, I was asked whether I knew what day it was. It took me a while (and probably a hint or two) but eventually I realised. I think the excuse that time was “for old time’s sake” or similar, but whatever the cause, it started again, and in almost the same manner as the previous time. It turned out that she was actually dating someone at the time, so there was even a similar kind of doubting “is this right?” conversation the next day. Much of the next few months was spent in a whirlwind of staying up until stupid-o-clock and sending long emails back and forth, to compensate for the 7 hour time difference. We managed to arrange for her to come over here for a week around valentine’s day (I think this was during one of the legendary Bancroftian 2 week spring half term holidays or something, but I would have to look it up to be sure).
She arrived the day before valentines, and my parents urged her to try to stay awake until a sensible bedtime. I think we ended up resting (but not asleep) on the front room couch before the light was gone, talking about something that probably seemed important at the time. Our first kiss was there, and was both awkward and magical. I think there was some talk of holding out for the next day or something, but being un-planned was better. The next day, on the other hand, had the hell planned out of it. I woke her up with roses and chocolate (I’d bought a big cube-shaped box of chocolates, and put a rose petal in the bottom of each tray, and I’d bought a lead-crystal heart, and put it in the centre. It was all very cheesy, but I think the whole “coming over for valentines” was proof that we were into that kind of thing. We then went out to explore London, and came back for curry (my dad had convinced me that americans didn’t like hot food, so we got something hot and something not. Turns out that Utah isn’t very far from Mexico, and my dad was wrong).
We climbed Monument, and St Paul’s, with a disposable camera recording the events. On the Sunday, she took me to church. I was somewhat in awe of the general kindness and good will displayed there, and the slightly chaotic ceremonies caused by the fact that it was a convert’s church (Mormon) made it entertaining and exciting. I ended up crying at one point, and she noticed. I half wanted her to say something about it being a religious experience, so that I could argue against her, but she didn’t.
At some point during the week, we hooked up with Charlotte and went on the London Eye and played on the lions in Trafalgar Square. Marci also made her “runny cheese cake” which was a little more runny than anticipated (I won’t lie. It was a disaster in almost all respects, including cleaning out the last of the tin with a finger, which caused her injury). It was a good laugh though, and at least Charlotte and Marci enjoyed the end product.
That night, after Charlotte left, we ended up watching some cartoon version of robin hood on the projector in the back room(which is now broken, due to a completely unrelated event). During the course of things, we ended up on top of each other. There was no removal of clothes or anything like that but it turned out this was still a bad idea. She left for her room very upset, and it took me a while to understand that temptation and guilt had a lot to do with it. We talked it over then and a bit the next day, and agreed to strive to never let it happen again. It seemed like a black spot that wasn’t impossible to recover from, and we parted in high spirits, looking forward to the future.
We ended up going through a bit of a rough patch after she went home. I think I was missing her physically, and there was also doubt about when we would next see each other, and whether we would be safe. We took another break at that point, with the agreement this time that we would get back together when things were more certain. I spent a little more time with my school friends, so that I would be more comfortable introducing her to them if she came over again… and then we got together again.
We organised a trip from me to Utah in the summer, with the clever trick of bundling a week long university summer camp so that the university would pay for part of the travel. I got the rest by working for my dad.
At this point, there should be a remark about Mel, who I stopped talking to around this time, but seems to have done well by herself in the meantime.
There was a spot of bother shortly beforehand caused by my habit of getting back from school and going straight on the computer in my school stuff in the middle of summer, and Marci mentioning someone stripping for her *innocent eyes*. I *may* have pretended to undo my belt and then cut off the internet connection, which got an angry email in response. We sorted all that out, and I’m glad we did, because it was a fresh reminder of what to avoid when I was there. What *didn’t* help was that Marci’s mum thought that it would be a good idea to read her daughter’s emails shortly afterwards.
I thought I behaved pretty well while I was there. I even went to sit in the front of the car to reduce the risk of either of us doing something we would regret later. Turns out it saved my life, but this is where her story ends.
So what’s the point of this? Well it’s partly for anyone who finds my terms a little strange, and it’s partly to act a tribute. It’s also a kind of thank-you to everyone who I have met because of her. I think I will go and visit her family when I’ve got some money (probably after my PhD and the associated recovery. Give it five or ten years). I’ll see if I can visit where she did her dancing as well (she was the first person who ever tried (and failed) to teach me to dance, and part of the reason that I decided to go in search of swing when I realised that ballroom was rubbish.)