Since I got back from Israel I'd been working on a temp contract for an old boss. She was the regional manager for - at that time - a big holiday company.
I went into work one March morning and she asked me to join her for a cup of coffee.
"What are your plans?" She said.
"What, as in plans for life?" I replied, like the 20 year old I was.
"For when you finish here. Your contract is due up next month."
"No idea", I replied. I'd been secretly hoping it was going to be extended. Apparently not.
"I've got an idea." She said. "How's your French?"
Two weeks later and I was on a bus (yes, a bus) heading to the south-west of France. My old boss, God bless her, had gotten me a job doing the admin in a resort office for the summer.
It was such an easy job - make sure coaches were booked, hotel rooms were confirmed. Make sure the tour guides knew their rota.
I was working with three girls - two from the UK, one Dutch and generally I worked two hours in the morning and two in the late afternoon. This left me plenty of time to sit on the beach and ponder my fortune.
July rolled around, as invariably it does at some point most summers. It was hot and humid and every few days a storm would come down from the Pyrenees and hit us with some welcome cool air and rain.
It became our habit to go the beach for sunset. To take down some beers and watch the sun disappear. To light a fire, to smoke some joints, to lie in the sand with whoever we were in love with at the time.
July happened to be a lean month for me. And I walked down to the beach with Stephane, the boy who worked in the local campsite shop during the day and occasionally in a bar in town in the evenings. I'd had a crush on him since I arrived at the end of March - for which the girls never tired of taking the piss out of me.
This one night, it was just the two of us. Remarkably, the girls and their boys didn't show up.
We sat down on the beach next to each other and had a couple of beers, smoked a little, watching the beautiful pink sunset. He leaned in and we kissed. In near darkness we lay there together and enjoyed the cool night air.
"Allez, come on" Stephane said. "I've got something to show you".
I didn't want to move. But wherever he was going, I was going with him tonight.
We headed back into the town and the square had been invaded by locals and tourists alike, mostly drunk, all having a great time.
It was the first Bidart town-square dance of the season and there was music and beer and merguez-frites. Everyone I knew was there and everyone wanted to dance.
The girls told me that Stephane had asked if we could have the beach to ourselves that evening and that we'd meet them here later. They nudged and winked and said they hoped it had been worth it.
We kept dancing, drinking, laughing until the wee small hours and then a big group of us headed to the beach.
As the sun came up we dropped our beer bottles, stripped off and ran into the sea.
Stephane grabbed me and a wave crashed over us both, knocking us to the ground.
We lay in the surf and he kissed me.
"Happy Birthday" he said.
I was 21.