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Jazz at Midnight

While writing some more of my NaNoWriMo novel last night, (I'm over 10,000 words now!) I was suddenly reminded of something that happened a long time ago. One of my characters reminds me a little of someone that I used to know, I had to stop writing because I couldn't concentrate anymore. Instead I felt compelled to write out this little story.

When I was 18 years old, nearing 19, I was at an acquaintance's birthday party. He was someone that worked with my boyfriend at the time, in the bike repair shop, and he was just turning 18. It was summer, so the party was outside in a marquee type thing. Fancy dress, I can't remember what I dressed as but my boyfriend refused to do fancy dress because I suppose that he felt that it imposed on his manliness somehow. There were a group of us - my best friend, who shares my first name and was dressed as a fairy, another guy that my boyfriend worked with who was dressed as a Nazi soldier and there was Ed, who was about 3 years older than us.

The guy dressed as a Nazi got disgustingly drunk, the party was a washout mostly although the younger kids seemed to be enjoying themselves. We ended up sat at "the grown-up's table". Ed was the guy who introduced me to The Beat Poets, this is when we sat and discussed them. He was flirting outrageously with my best friend too. My boyfriend was sulking, as he so often did. The guy dressed as a Nazi had to be taken home, he was supposed to go home with Ed and we were all desperate to leave anyway so we started to walk him home.

After we dropped him off at his house, Ed asked us if we'd like to come over to his and have some drinks. It was about midnight and we didn't feel much like going home at that point so we went with him. We walked to his house, he said it was just up the street. It was, but the street turned into a dirt track that led through a field. In the field was an old falling down house with its windows boarded up, the front door had an enormous padlock on it, Ed said that was because people liked to come out here and vandalize his house.

Ed unlocked the padlock and opened the door, we all stepped in one after the other and Ed flipped the light on. Inside the house looked in similar condition to the outside, the wallpaper was peeling off and the floor was concrete. The kitchen had only a stove, microwave, sink and a couple of tables. We went upstairs to Ed's room, we passed his older brother who was getting ready to leave to go see his girlfriend.

Ed's room was small, one wall was lined almost entirely from floor to ceiling with old records and CD's, another wall with books. His bed was pushed up against the wall and there were more books underneath. He put on some music, I think it was Joanna Newsom, and lit up a joint, we passed it around and talked for a while.

Later we went downstairs, through the kitchen into the back room. The room was big, easily three times the size of Ed's bedroom. It was filled with recording equipment and musical instruments, there were tatty Persian rugs lining the floor. Ed made us all some tea in the kitchen and we started to pick up instruments and mess around with them. I played something on the piano and as I did, my best friend started to join me by tapping on one of the drums. Ed laughed and rooted around in the back for something. He eventually pulled out a silver saxophone and handed it to my best friend, she plays a lot of instruments including the saxophone, clarinet and piano. She is actually a music teacher now.

Ed handed an electric guitar to my boyfriend and plugged it into a nearby amp before sitting down himself behind the drum kit. We didn't speak to one another, Ed started tapping out a beat on the snare drum. I started playing on the piano, my boyfriend joined in on guitar and then finally my best friend joined in on the saxophone.

We ended up jamming all night, playing Jazz. We played until 5am, before we started to get tired and decided we had to go home.

I never saw Ed again, my best friend went back to his house a couple of times to see him before she left for college.

It's funny, that night was amazing and I'm not really sure why. I still remember it vividly 6 years later. I only met the guy once and he had such an impact on the way I live now, the way I see things, what music I like and what books I like to read.

Can you think of anyone who has had an impact on your life like that? It could be a close friend, or even someone you only met once. I want to know!

P.S. I have added a couple of new websites to my reading list in the sidebar on the left. They're pretty amazing, I'll talk about them at length at a later date, for now I've got housework to do.

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I am a 24 year old British stay at home mother to a two year old boy. Married to a U.S. soldier and currently living in Germany.

I have seen the Vatican from the very top of St Peter's Basilica, the mud in the World War I trenches outside Ypres. I have walked through Montmartre side streets bustling with people in the evening, gotten lost in the streets of Greenwich Village NYC, run through cornfields on the Welsh border and sat outside with a cup of tea watching fireflies in the fields of the outer Chicago suburbs.

I have held the hands of others through addiction, fear, suicide, despair and come out the other side. I have left everything behind to begin anew.
I have fought mental illness and walked through snow in the mountains of the lake district, England. I have explored the morgue in the bowels of an abandoned hospital on a summer evening, climbed to the top of scaffolding on the outside of a five floor warehouse to look at the city lights of Nottingham at night and I have watched the sun setting on the Texas horizon.

I have held my son's tiny hand through the plastic window on an isolette in the NICU ward. Walked, speaking only in whispers, through the catacombs beneath the ground on the outskirts of Rome and seen the fireworks over Heidelberg castle.