It took me time to find the bar initially, Glasgow was as an unknown to me then, as it is now. It was my 7th visit to the same place as I only had a reference point of location, not time.
Money was going to be a problem as cash looked different in 1981. Although not that much of a problem when you know the outcome of a horse race on a particular day. Obviously travelling back in time, or being given the opportunity, takes planning. I managed to buy some old coinage from a charity shop that was in a display box for £5.00, and received £8.50 in return; talk about devaluing the pound! It didn’t matter really, once the modest accumulator bet was laid down over 5 horse races, the bookmaker paid out winnings of over £400. In 1981 that sum of cash would provide a bed, some clothes and food that would carry me through.
My 7th day was a Wednesday. I had hung out in the bar every night including the weekend and drawn a blank. I didn’t know what any of her friends looked like, so again I had no reference. I did know what University she went to, however, walking through the campus everyday just looking became a drag. I would have given up sooner if were not for the warm comfort I felt looking at the familiar fashions and music. Each day I would go the local Wimpey Bar and get breakfast. I laughed at how basic everything was from the service to cars splashing through the puddles.
I was nursing a pint of lager later that evening when I heard her laugh. I couldn’t locate her at first, the background noise threw my sense of audible direction. Finally two girls could be seen through a break in the crowd talking to two men, they were laughing and certainly playing up to the standing chaperones. The men approached the bar and ordered drinks which gave me an opportunity to walk around the bar and sit close to where she and her friend were in whispered conversation.
“It anyone sitting here?” I asked, despite the chair being a safe distance from their space.
“Help yourself.” Her friend answered in a friendly way.
My eyes glanced over to the other girl. She looked just like the photo I had in my pocket. I smiled. She didn’t smile back which was disappointing. I knew so much about her and yet she had no idea who I was. The men came back which triggered 3 hours of me observing what was obviously one of her ‘free’ nights out that involved a game to coherence these men to buy them drinks all night. The troubles of a poor student I thought. The evening drew on and despite sitting alone, the group did not recognise my presence which suited me fine.
I went to the bar and refreshed my glass and on returning saw the girls were soon to be alone as the men were putting on heavy coats and walking towards the door. I sat back down and strained by ears.
“How long do you think they will wait?”
“All night I expect!”
They both laughed.
“I need a pee, keep an eye on my coat.” Her friend said.
I had rehearsed what I was going to say to her over and over in my head.
“Please don’t be alarmed, but would you mind if I spoke to you? You don’t know me, not yet anyway, but in years to come you will.”
It all dried up at that point. My brain wouldn’t function, and my train of thought ran out of steam. The words never left my mouth.
She looked round and caught me staring at her. But before I could look away she said,
“Are you waiting for someone? You’ve been sitting there alone for hours.”
“Sort of.” I replied in an unconvincing casual manner.
She smiled again and I just wanted to kiss her, hold her, strip her bare and fuck this 19 year old version of my wife. She was so full of young arrogance and yet she still had that sadness in her eyes that I found attractive 30 years later.
“Come on,” said the voice of her friend, scooping up coats and grabbing her arm. “I’ve found our next drink!”
She was gone before I had time to mutter a goodbye. I considered following, but there was no point. For all the things I wanted to say to her, the unrealised goal had been achieved. I had really only wanted to see her before marriage, kids, and divorce. Untouched by motherhood with only her needs to worry about. Carefree, unbridled and a whole life ahead of her.
I walked back through the streets in the rain. I was sad with feelings of nostalgia from the future, or was it the past? Outside a club I recognised the two men from earlier huddled under an umbrella waiting for the girls that would never arrive. They would be out there, somewhere amongst the drizzle and street lights laughing, with plans that extended only as far as their next bright idea to entertain their evening. Tomorrow, and the days that followed were unknown to her, but not to me. I knew the trials and tribulations that would follow, the sexual encounters that would shape her and the heart break of marriage.
I found her fast asleep on the couch, laptop closed and a dog draped across her arm. I sat on the coffee table and looked at her. The girl of years ago was still there, sometimes desperate to break out, other times glad it was inside a body and mind that had control of youthful issues. I had been gone only a matter of minutes in this timeline, and a week her former life.
She opened her eyes slowly and looked at me.
“Are you waiting for someone?” She said with smile on her face.