You never forget your first love, so the saying goes. I have found this saying to be true.
When I ask people about their first love I’ve never had someone respond with, I don’t remember. I believe that the person who comes to mind when asked this question must be it. The person who’s kiss you remember above all others. Who’s voice can still be heard in your head. Who’s absence is felt the deepest. Who’s well being still matters. Who’s smile can still be seen when closing your eyes.
My first love appeared to me when I was 15 years old and leaving a high school party. We were in the backseat of a mutual friend’s car and this boy, this total stranger, gently took my hand in his. When he got out of the car to leave, and I got out so that I could sit in the front seat, somehow, for some reason, we both leaned in to each other and gave what can only be described as the most unexpected and delicious kiss of my life. I didn’t even know his name.
I learned it two minutes later.
And for many years I engaged in a crazy dance with that boy — one that lasted decades. Yes, DECADES, people.
We would see each other when we were both single. We would not see each other the entire 10 years I was with my husband. We would see each other when I got divorced. We would not see each other when I had a boyfriend. We would see each other when I was single… and on and on and on.
And all those years, all those kisses, all that time we were never boyfriend and girlfriend because he never wanted to be. We were also never just friends. Nope. Like that first kiss between two teenage strangers who had no idea why they were drawn together but couldn’t seem to resist connecting — we’ve never been able to resist connecting.
But, for me, he was my first love. We don’t see each other anymore. We don’t even talk. It’s all rather sad. But, I’m not a teenager anymore. Not even close.
I bring this up because the other day my daughter and I were listening to the radio when Air Supply’s sappy love song came on. You know the one. And if you were a teenage girl during the 80’s you not only knew this song, you probably cried to it while nursing a broken heart. I turned the radio up and laughed,
Oh, baby, I used to sing this song when I was in high school because I was so crazy in love.
Suddenly my daughter asked me a question I wasn’t anticipating and had no answer for,
Why him, mama?
What was it about that boy, that man that touched her mama’s heart? I didn’t know. It wasn’t about a list of qualities or his goals in life or even something shallow like how he dressed. It wasn’t anything I could articulate. It just was… him.
I don’t know, baby. I just fell in love with him.
She was quiet for a long time and then simply said,
It’s sad he didn’t love you back.
I looked at her, took her hand, softly smiled,
Yeah, it is.
It’s amazing how clearly my child sees things. How simply she breaks it all down. How easily she identifies emotions. Happy, sad, angry, hurt. When does that change? When does it get so complicated?
I thought about my first love the rest of the day. For years I struggled to try and understand what seemed so difficult, so painful, so confusing. Yet, here, from the mouth of my beautiful 11 year old girl, it all made sense.
He didn’t love me.
Later that night I was tucking my daughter in bed. We had just finished our nightly radio blasting dance session, yummy chocolate desert and goofing with the dog when full of giggles and love my daughter took my face in her hands,
I’m never going to love someone who doesn’t love me back, mama.
I smiled, smothered her with kisses and turned out the light.
And yet… and yet.