It’s difficult to know where to start to recount such a memory. Where to begin? Which of the many decisions we make every day is responsible for the string of consequences that are the eventual out-fall of choosing one moment over another to do something or go somewhere?

Have you ever wondered – after a bird has flown into your car, or a kamikaze rabbit has run across the road and straight under your tyre, or you’ve stood under a tree and a twig or bird droppings has fallen just ahead of you – if you you’d been just a few seconds earlier or later leaving the house, or taken that one more step, then you wouldn’t have killed the bird, or flattened the rabbit into a messy paste, or been hit on the head by the falling twig or had bird droppings in your freshly washed hair.

At which moment did the ball of fate start rolling……?

I had taken the decision to leave Italy on that day, and I had booked the time of the flight, so I alone had set my feet on the road. Did it all become inevitable the moment I picked up the phone and booked the last seat on the plane? Or was it because someone else had slightly changed my plans? So who was to blame for the result?

I am happy and contented now: life is good. But there was another time when I’d also been ecstatically, almost painfully happy. A time when every moment brought a fresh taste of the sweet, heady, intoxicating drug that is being madly in love for the first time.

There are no artificially induced highs that can equal the euphoria one feels the moment love comes crashing in on your life, leaving you breathless, bemused and grinning like a lunatic.

Even now, a decade and more later, I still experience a tremor that starts at my hair and travels down the back of my neck, over my skin, until every fibre of my being seems to scintillate with a tingling discharge, whenever I think of that moment, that day, that journey, those few weeks, in which I went from a sweet, innocent nineteen-year-old virgin, to a not so innocent, nineteen-year-old woman, whose world would never be the same again.

It was such a little time, a day, a week, a month. I was in love – or thought I was. I was content to see my life diverted along a new, stranger, more exciting path than the one I’d had planned.

Love had infected me, I saw only him, I felt through him, my thoughts were drowned in the memory of his last kiss, the last time we slept together, or didn’t sleep, but made love on that lumpy bed, long into the warm Bangkok night.

I had wanted him inside me every moment. I yearned to feel the big head of his penis sliding into me, throbbing, pushing out the walls of my vagina that only he had used; his mouth on mine muffling the sounds of ecstasy that his pounding hips ripped from my throat; his hands moulding my breasts that no other man had touched; his fingers and tongue that could keep me on the edge, melting my bones; the perspiration of our bodies mixing into rivulets that soaked into the sheets.
I had been drunk with love, stupid and blind with infatuation, lost in a sea of lust, willing to perform any depravity he asked.

In those few weeks I saw things that little girls from the lush, safe, protected garden of England are not supposed to see.

At first I saw them with eyes of a tourist. It was all new, different, exotic, titillating, exciting. My eyes were wide with amused wonder and a kind of admiration for the people, as if it was all entertainment; a show put on for the benefit of foreigners. But slowly I started to notice the smiles that never quite reached the eyes, and the practiced laughter that always carried a tinge of sadness and shame. Suddenly my amusement turned to a kind of stomach churning horror, and I started to feel shameful and dirty and angry, as my eyes, fully opened saw the awful truth – that I really knew nothing about people and less about the lives others choose to lead, or were forced to lead.
How quickly it all happened.

But I get ahead of myself……

Oddly, it was an act of kindness that had set my feet on the new path. Had I used my original ticket, then my life would have taken a different path. Maybe – possibly. Who really knows?