Six years ago, I met Carole for the first time.
It was, as you may imagine, a romantic affair, with our first date (if you can call it such a thing) taking place in the Starbucks in Leeds train station while Caz was on her lunch break from work. I still remember sitting outside the Whistlestop shop waiting for her to arrive, looking at each and every woman who walked past wondering if that would be her and, in some cases, hoping it wasn’t.
And then she arrived. I didn’t know what she looked like at the time because we were set up by her sister and a colleague at work and, up to that point, I had seen one picture of Carole in which she was wearing a witch’s mask. Carole, meanwhile, had seen a picture of me in a skirt getting my legs waxed at work for charity. Or at least that’s what I told her the picture was for.
The first thing we did, after we’d said hello, was descend into a bit of a shy silence. We were now both sitting on the bench outside Whistlestop. We had not, at this point, made a move to go to Starbucks. The silence could have been a good thing or a bad thing had it been left to go on but it was interrupted. interrupted by something unexpected.
An apple made a break for freedom.
It was a sign. Sure it may only have been a sign that someone who worked for Whistlestop in Leeds was particularly poor at stacking fruit, but it was still a sign.
No word of a lie, an apple threw itself from the fruit box on the left of the shop front and began to roll along the floor, edging closer and closer to a life of freedom away from the trials and tribulations of being a saleable piece of fruit. It was at this point that I said something which, in hindsight, could have gone either way as well.
“Look,” I said, indicating the transient fruit. “That apple’s making a break for freedom.”
Now, luckily for me, Carole is someone who isn’t phased by someone saying something strange – a fact which is still true some six years later – and will play along with these kind of strange conversations and, luckily we hit it off. And here we are. Six years into our relationship. Six years today. Not everyone can remember things like that. Like when they had their first date. But then, not everyone thinks to start going out with someone on a memorable date like, say, Hallowe’en.
But I’m the kind of forward thinking chap who doesn’t want to get into trouble for forgetting this kind of thing. And the fact that we can base how long we’ve been going out for on the age of Carole’s niece is just an unplanned added bonus.
Who knew, six years ago, that I’d be living with a woman who talks as much in her sleep as she does when she’s awake? That I’d be in love with someone who has sat bolt upright in bed and asked if we have any bell jars, or that she can hear running water. That I’d fall for a girl who, on one of our first dates, polished the inside of her car – a fact I only know because there were little bits of yellow duster fluff all over the place?
That apple knew.
And I’ve been grateful ever since.