2006-08-02

Love Story Part 1

This story ended up being way longer than I would have thought. Therefore, I will be bringing to to you in 3 parts.

All my life, my parents had been taking me and my ever expanding number of brothers and sister on camping trips in the summer. I've always loved camping. When there were 4 children to fit in the car though, they decided to stop taking their own tent and upgrade to going with one of these companies where you arrive and your tent is set up for you - a big tent with fridge, electric lights etc. The fírst time we did that kind of holiday, I must have been about 11. And every time we did it, I saw these reps: (in my eyes) really cool guys and girls, about 20, that got to spend their whole summer living in a tent in a foreign country and loving every minute. I knew they had cleaning and customer services to do, but for me, that was a small price to pay for the amazing summer these tanned, toned young people were having. I had always wanted to be a rep. So at the end of my first summer at uni in Manchester, a long 3 month summer ahead of me, I packed my rucksack, kissed my then-boyfriend Chad goodbye, told him I was looking forward to him coming and visiting me in July and to us moving in together in September (only in a shared house in seperate rooms, which was for the best as it turned out), and set off for Italy, to Camping Happy near Rimini.

I had been sent to Italy because I spoke German. Sounds odd, but the company I worked for had British, dutch, danish and german customers. In Italy the majority of customers were german, presumably because this was the kind of holiday you did by car and the few british customers I had generally had an approximately 20 hour long drive behind them. Germany was just more do-able. Anyway, I had been to Germany as a au pair when I was 18 (I'd returned to Britain just a year before) and so my German was pretty passable, and to a lot of Brits, it was amazing. The disadvantage to the situation was that I was in Italy and didn't speak a word of Italian!! Sure, it was a pretty international campsite, and the majority of people that worked there spoke some english, but it made making frineds pretty difficult, particularly when I went out with a group of Italians in the evenings. Thank goodness for GCSE Spanish and A-level French, which at least meant that I vaguely understood what was going on around me, but that was about it.

(O.K, o.k, you're waiting for the part of this story in which our hero arrives, aren't you? Sorry, I am prone to waffling generally, but particularly when telling this story because I remember every second of it so well and the circumstances are still amazing to me. And anyway, I promised you a film like storyline, so we have to get our background about the heroine in first. But don't worry, I am getting round to the leading man, I promise.)

Anyway, so there I was, on the campsite, pretty much alone, loving my job and surrounded by people who were being nice to me, but still feeling pretty lonely. Luckily there was a middle aged german couple who lived on the site for most of the year and rented out 6 mobile homes they owned. They were really friendly and were nice enough to listen to me moan when customers were being nasty or whatever! When I'd been on site for about 2 weeks, their son arrived with 3 mates to spend a week's holiday with his parents. Pretty much as soon as they arrived, they must have told Thomas (the son) about the poor little english girl who was all alone, because he turned up at my reception to introduce himself. I was pretty intimidated by the whole thing, because although I come across as being confident at first, I'm really pretty shy, and Thomas is this big male model type guy, really cool looking and a huge personality. So I mumbled something back at him, he said "See you around" and headed off to the beach. I was kicking myself - not because I fancied Thomas (sure, I can admit he's a very good looking guy, but he's not my type at all, and I wasn't attracted to him), but because that was the first chance I'd had for weeks to chat to somebody that I could actually have a conversation with, and I'd blown it.

Later that day, Thomas arrived walked past my reception again (he had to to get to his caravan) with this gorgeous blond guy in tow. They were on their way back up from the beach. Surprisingly to me, Thomas stopped, and introduced his friend Marc. Marc just said "Hi!" and grinned. I learned later that he'd had about 3 beers sitting in the sun and was pretty drunk. I was even more shy this time around, because this was somebody I was attracted to, so I half smiled, said hi and found an excuse to do something else. I know, I was being stupid - I really needed some people to talk to and perhaps go out with, but these guys just seemed so unattainable to me. I don't mean relationship-wise ( I had a boyfriend, remember?), but these were guys who were definitely in the cool crowd back at school and I... Wasn't. Sad but true. So I was certainly convinced they wouldn't be interested in me.

The next day I was sitting outside my reception (up to now,. it sounds like I did nothing but sit outside my reception doesn't it? I was only there for 2 hours in the morning and 2 in the afternoon... it just so happens that the majority of things at the beginning of this story took place there), just thinking about starting to clear up for the afternoon when Marc came wandering over to reception and asked me where the nearest chemists was. Apparently one of the other guys they were there with, who I hadn't met yet (and who is a story to himself - Hannes is one of the best people I have ever met - completely insane in a good way, totally uninhibited and proud of who he is!!) was a big snorer and Marc desperately needed ear plugs or he wasn't going to make it through another night!! I laughed and gave him directions. And thus follows a moment in my life in which I am sure that God/ Fate/ something else intervened and completely changed my life forever. Obviously my reception (which would need it's own trailer if they were making a film because heck, the number of times I've mentioned it, you would think that it was the star of this story!!) was right by the entrance to the camp site, and, as Marc turned right and disappeared out of view, I suddenly ran after him!!

I caught up with him quite quickly and fell into pace with him. He just looked at me and said "Did you get the directions wrong?". He obviously had no idea why else I would have run after him. Thing is, I didn't either. I mumbled something about wanting to make sure he got there, because hey, he wouldn't be able to sleep otherwise and we couldn't have that. He looked at me strangely, smiled and said "O.K.". We walked to the (embarrassingly easy to find) chemists without saying much else, bought the earplugs and then... stood there. In front of the chemists. Both of us obviously completely unsure about what we were doing there together and what we were supposed to do in the situation. After what seemed like ages, Marc asked if we wanted to get a drink. I suggested a nice bar around the corner and we went. It was only there that really started chatting properly. Once we did though, Marc was really easy to talk to. Only problem was that he mentioned his girlfriend in the first few minutes of the conversation. He was quite clearly making a point, but I wasn't bothered either because I had a boyfriend and was still completely in denial about what, looking back, I had known since the first moment I saw Marc - that this was the guy I was going to marry. At some point whilst we were sitting there, the guy with the roses turned up. Yes, he's the same guy the world over - he saw two people of the opposite sex sitting together and charged over and asked Marc if he'd like to buy a rose. I was mortally embarrassed, because I imagined that this was going to be a really awkward moment, but Marc just said "Yes please" and bought me one. I later discovered that he had never ever bought anything from one of those guys before - not even for his girlfriend. This was his equivalent to my running after him moment - he didn't have a clue why he did it at the time but looking back he knows he should have realised then what was going on.

We'd been chatting for a while when Marc's phone rang. It was Thomas, who was sitting back at the caravan, waiting for Marc to come back so that they could go out. Sounded like he was pretty much on the verge of sending out a search party. We said we'd be back in 5 minutes, and Marc asked me if I'd like to join them going out that night. I agreed of course, particularly as it was my day off the next day and so went back and got changed. We decided to return to the bar Marc and I had been to earlier, Tequila Blues, a fabulous cocktail bar. And it was a great night!! Lots of cocktails, and really great company. I got on with all 4 of the guys so well, particularly Marc. It was about 2 by the time we got back to the campsite, and we sat around at the boys' caravan until the security guy came and told us off for being too loud.

So off I went to bed around 3am. And woke up with a steaming hangover. At about midday, I finally crawled over to the guys' caravan and jokingly told them off for getting me drunk the night before and how it was their fault that I felt so rotten. Marc was really sweet and brought me water and kept trying to feed me crisps, because I was complaining I felt sick, but he insisted I had to eat something. We sat around most of the afternoon, and they invited me to go out with them again that night. I agreed and was quite excited because I was beginning to admit to myself that I quite fancied Marc. I hadn't got to the "This is the man I will marry" point yet, but I was kind of opening up at least to the idea that I was attracted to him. Still I didn't really expect anything to happen, as Marc had a a girlfriend, but I at least thought I might be able to flirt a bit, which is always good for the ego, and I'd at least got the impression that Marc didn't find me totally repulsive. However, that evening everything changed...


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oktoberfest at 2:01 p.m.

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