When I was 15 I worked in a bar for three hours each Sunday, clearing glasses and making coffee, for 1.25 an hour.
I had a boyfriend and I used to meet him on Saturday afternoons. I would catch a red council bus (0.45 each way), all diesel fumes, red vinyl seats and poor suspension, that trailed through my town and a whole other neighbourhood on the outskirts of the next town over. It took over half an hour to manage a 10 minute drive. I had a walkman and I listened to 80s Scottish pop: Hue & Cry, The Proclaimers, Deacon Blue until I knew every beat and pause by heart, and until my tapes grew warbly. If not too many people got on at each stop, I had time to run up the hill to the train station just in time for the train that ran at five minutes past the hour (1.05 roundtrip) to go into town and meet him for coffee. Otherwise, I’d hang around for half an hour at one station, ten minutes up the line from where he was waiting, all white trousers and poufy hair and slip-on shoes, at our destination. There were no cell phones, so he just had to stay there and watch the world go by. He spent a lot of time waiting for me, poor boy.
We window-shopped and talked, sometimes argued, before making our way to Oliver’s coffee shop where we nursed our big thick brown coffees, in their big thick brown mugs, for as long as we could. He’d buy us cake — a green frog or a pink pig made from a square of sponge cake a blob of cream and some clever icing that made us smile — because he earned more than I did, playing piano for a dancing school.
Then we took long walks by the river, through the woods — arm in arm — until it grew dark or cold. We talked about music and people we knew (everyone’s lives are very dramatic at 15) or our plans for the future. His plans always involved getting away. Mine never did. But we were both going to be fabulously successful in our chosen creative endeavours. And rich, of course.
Funny how things turn out.