As I lay in bed last night, I came up with a great idea for a meme. Of course, as virtually no one reads this (probably for the best, it has to be said), the chances are this will die a quiet death all of its own, but I'm going to go ahead with it anyway (feel free to borrow, just let me know and link back!).
This one is about first times - the first time you did certain things.
1. First time you travelled abroad on your own - 1985, when I was 16. I sailed from Harwich in England to Gothenburg in Sweden (24 hours on a boat!) to go and spend 2 weeks with a Swedish friend who lived there. I felt physically sick with nerves in the days (and, worse, hours) before I set sail, and then, once I had, I felt gloriously free!
2. First time you drank alcohol - 1969, when I was just a few weeks old. My grandfather died very suddenly and my parents had to travel up to the north of England with me. When we arrived, I was fussy and wouldn't settle, so my grandmother (remarkably together given that her husband had just dropped dead) suggested a drop of whisky in my bottle. And of course I fell asleep instantly. And have always loathed whisky.
3. First time a celebrity death affected you - the death of River Phoenix in 1993 really hit me hard. He was just a year younger than me, and shared his birthday with one of my best friends. He moved me to tears in "Stand By Me" and his death was utterly tragic and totally avoidable.
4. First time you spent Christmas without your family - 1999. I spent Christmas in Paris with my partner, his mother and a family friend. Despite somewhat tense relations with my MIL (though those relations are much more tense now than they were then), it was quite a good Christmas. Better than I expected, anyway.
5. First time you watched sunrise - 1988, June. I was a first-year student in St Andrews in Scotland and my grandmother (the one who gave me whisky, the only grandparent I ever knew) had just died after years of heart problems. The night before I was due to travel down to Newcastle for her funeral, 2 friends and I spent the night on the West Sands (the beach used in the opening scene of the film, "Chariots of Fire"). We pulled a small bush up off the golf course (a crime almost certainly punishable by death given that it was the much-hallowed Old Course), built a totally ineffectual fire and sat, huddled together and watched the sun rise slowly. It was a beautiful experience, breathtakingly peaceful, and just perfect for my mood. I wasn't outrageously sad that my grandmother had died - she was so miserable in the last few months of her life, her death was more blessed release than anything - just filled with melancholy. And watching that sunrise brought me - and, I hope, her - peace. Once the sun was up, my two friends and I walked back into town to the "Alnight Bakery" for hot rolls. When we got back to our residence, we discovered that my roommate had lost her keys in the sand so we had to go back and try to find them (by some miracle we did!). We drank tea and then I had to go to catch my train. The memory of that night has never left me.
There you go, all finished. I have ideas, too, for another one, but I'll save that for some other time...