Friday, 20 July 2012
You never forget your first love - Hayley
The cliché claims that you never forget your first love and I hope to God that's true, because I don't ever want to forget Hayley Rebecca Young.
I was in year nine or ten and there was news that a new girl was joining the school. The anticipation of a new person was always fairly exciting, especially with it being a girl. The boys, being young adolescents, would always clamber around and ponder the probability of a new fittie to ogle over, not really taking into account that this new arrival may be a really nice person and eventually become a friend, that didn't seem as important at that age.
The first time I saw her is a little blurry to me. I seem to remember her being with Amanda and that they were already friends, but, if you believe in love at first sight or have ever experienced it yourself, you will understand exactly how I felt the first time I saw Hayley. It was her smile, it lit up the room and the laugh that very often accompanied it was absolutely infectious. She wouldn't just smile with her mouth, but with her eyes too. Her expression of joy was truly a thing of beauty to behold as she was genuine and fun and I honestly don't remember her being anything other than happy in those early days of knowing her.
So I fell head over heels and proceeded to do my very best to hide it however I could. I had little to no confidence as a kid. I was goofy and chubby and had a shit haircut and was no where near being the charismatic stud muffin that most of you people have grown to love. The only way I knew how to communicate with girls was by having a laugh and generally being the class clown, which most of the time put me in the "Friend Zone" with girls, because I was just nice. Plus, I was a nerd, which is a cool thing to be right now, but in the mid nineties you had to be a Rapper or a Raver or a Greb, or some other bullshit cliqué that society and peer pressure pushes you towards. I chose to be a Rapper. I had been listening to Hip Hop for a few years at this point and fancied myself as an Emcee and had been feverishly writing lyrics in my notebooks at school, at home, anywhere and everywhere. This was my calling, I thought. I was going to make it as a Rapper!
One afternoon, I went calling for Hayley. She lived on Weekley Gleebe Road right next to the Gleebe, which was a grouping of sports fields and was often picked as the hangout spot for a big group of us from School who wanted to get drunk on cheap white cider and alco-pops. I must have been calling for her on the way to meet the others, but for whatever reason, she wasn't expecting me. Her Mum sat me down in the living room and we got to chatting. There was music playing upstairs, some mid nineties R'n'B, probably Mary J Blige, and then I heard singing. It was Hayley singing over the song as she was getting ready. Her voice was incredible. Her Mum beamed proudly as she told me of a friend or neighbour that once mistook her voice for an actual CD. She nailed it, her voice rang out uninhibited as she perfectly hit each note with beautiful harmony. I was amazed. She came downstairs to see me on the couch and her face shot to a crimson red. I wasn't supposed to hear that and even my pleas of excellence fell on deaf ears as she insisted that she wasn't as good as she clearly was. She had a pure unadulterated talent and didn't realise it.
I wanted to spend more time with her, anything to be around her, I was besotted and our one major connection was our mutual love of music. So I insisted that we perform together, me rapping and her singing a duet. She wasn't keen at all, but I was persistent and said that I would go away and write the song and if she liked it, we would take it from there. No pressure.
Of course my mind wandered when writing a song that I planned on duetting with the girl I was in love with, so being the big sap that I was, I began writing lyrics about her instead. Eventually I finished the song, but I didn't get a chance to show her it right away.
And then she kissed me. It came out of nowhere one afternoon after we had finished our exams, a group of us ended up at Wicksteed Park with our ever present bottles of cheap cider and we all got drunk whilst the sun shone down on us. It was one of the last days that I remember being completely care free and not worried by any stresses of the world. Exams were over, Summer was here and I was with my friends just enjoying myself. So in a haze of beer goggled madness she kissed me and I felt like I had won the lottery. I can't remember a moment in time before that moment that I had ever felt as happy as I did right then. "She felt the same way as me" I naively thought as I opened up and told her just how I felt, that I had been in love with her from the moment I first saw her, that I had been aching for this moment for so long. But I had to leave. I was visiting my Dad that weekend in Luton and I had to go home to pack and get ready. I spent the weekend walking on air with the mindset that I had a girlfriend waiting for me when I got back and it was the girl of my dreams.
As soon as I arrived back at home I gave her a call. We didn't have mobiles back then, so as her home phone rang I had my fingers crossed that she was home to take my call. She picked up the phone and I excitedly began the conversation. I wanted us to go out, just the two of us, to the cinema or something. She cut me off before I could get much further. It was a mistake, she was drunk and she didn't mean to lead me on and was really sorry, but nothing was going to happen between us. But could we still be friends?
I was devastated. I didn't let on how much and I also wanted to make sure that we were still friends regardless, but I was truly heartbroken.
Not long after, our mutual group of friends decided to go camping in a field just off of Warkton Lane. It was awkward, but I treated it like a plaster that needed to be ripped off quickly and got it over and done with, rather than mope around and avoid her.
The next morning, Hayley, Amanda and myself got up early and walked back into Kettering. My Mum was at work that morning, so as the house was empty, that's where we headed. Amanda fell asleep, but me and Hayley stayed up and played Total NBA '96 for the PS1. Again, I was struck with the awesomeness of her smile and laughter, as I let her win the game, pretending that she was genuinely whooping me. Afterwards, she apologised to me again and insisted that she wasn't in the right place for a relationship. We had a hug and it was all water under the bridge. I also finally had the chance to show her my lyrics that I had written for our duet, so I passed her my lyric book and went upstairs to get changed and ready for whatever we had planned that afternoon.
When I came downstairs Amanda was awake and looking at me funny. Hayley too. My lyric book was open at the page with the lyrics I had written about Hayley. She asked; "Is this about me?" to which I sheepishly replied "Yes". Amanda was saying how sweet it was, but it was just so bloody awkward. Nothing more was said, they left and I could have died of embarrassment.
Not long after, there was another gathering at my house. Only four or five of us, but we sat in my room around the radio, which the girls insisted we had tuned into 'Late Night Love', and listened to the dodgy love songs as we once again consumed as much cheap alcohol as we could.
Hayley had gone to the bathroom, but had been a while, so Amanda went to investigate. She came back asking for my help as Hayley had locked the door and was crying. We pleaded with her to open the door and when she finally did, neither of us were prepared for what we saw.
Hayley had taken one of my Mum's razors and cut her wrists. The was blood pouring down her arms and tears pouring down her face. Something inside me took over as the panic tried to set in, I wouldn't allow it and I went and called for an ambulance. The ambulance came and she was taken to the hospital as nosey neighbours looked on. There wasn't enough room for me in the back of the ambulance and I had to wait for my Mum to get home so that I could explain to her what happened before I ran to meet them at the hospital. She insisted that she was ok. I wasn't convinced, but that was one of the last times I saw her for many years as I started college and our group of friends drifted apart.
The next time I saw her was about six years later. I don't know if she moved away for a while and came back, but all of a sudden I started to see her pop up every now and then. We chatted and joked and insisted that we would get together properly to reminisce and catch up.
The last time I saw her I was on my way to the Post Office. She was sitting on the wall that used to be where the monstrosity of a clock tower now is, facing the old Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, alone and looking lost in thought. I snuck up behind her and jumped down next to her, making her jump with fright. I giggled as she slapped my arm and I asked if she was ok. She insisted that she was fine, so I apologised that I was in a rush and had to dash off, but we swapped phone numbers and I headed off to the Post Office. As I looked back over my shoulder, Hayley had got up and began to walk off and she looked as if she was crying. What should I do? Should I go back and check on her? Was I mistaken? I did nothing. I went to the Post Office and carried on with my day. This is the biggest regret of my life.
We texted back and forth a little. This was my second chance and I wasn't going to waste it. One way or another I was determined to win her heart.
In late November of 2004, my telephone rang. I picked it up and AD Dell was on the other end of the line. I had always gotten on with AD really well, he is good people. I had been to see his band play a couple of times, but we were never close, not close enough for us to call each other out of the blue, so I immediately knew that something was up. He was calling to tell me that Hayley had committed suicide. Three weeks after her 23rd Birthday. He gave me the details for the funeral and asked me to let other former friends and classmates know.
I was a mess. I walked around in a daze for the next week as the reality of the situation settled in. I had only just been speaking to her. I should have stopped when I thought she was crying to comfort her, to give her a hug. Anything.
I didn't attend the funeral. I couldn't face it. Sometimes I regret not going, sometimes I'm glad I didn't. It wouldn't make a difference either way. It wouldn't bring her back.
I miss her so much more now than I did when she was alive. I took her presence for granted, knowing that I could or would still see her one day. Now I never will again and just knowing that frustrates and upsets me beyond belief. I visit her grave stone from time to time for a chat and I really hope that she can hear me. Even if she can't, it is still a comfort for me. I won't ever forget her, ever. And there will always be a special piece of my heart reserved for her.
I also don't want the world to forget her. She was such an incredible personality that I am convinced that if she would have had more faith in her singing ability that she would have been a star. So I have written a script about her from my perspective, how I knew her and how I loved her and I want people to read it and fall in love with her too, even if it is only as a character in a book, I don't want Hayley Rebecca Young to ever be forgotten. But I need an artist for this book, so please get in touch if you think you can do this script proud. It will be my most personal piece of work by far.
You Never Forget Your First Love.
I miss you...