Life-Defining Moments · Writing

My First Love

This is the piece referenced in this post. Enjoy.

The last time I was with my first love was barely a few months before the man who would become my husband and I reconnected. We were sitting on the bluffs by Lake Ontario, with a full moon suspended in a clear sky. I gave him an ultimatum that night, of sorts. I told him that I had been in love with him for years, and that I wanted to know if he loved me like I loved him – if we were ever going to be something. I told him I would wait for him if he did, if he thought we were, and if not, I needed to know, so I could move on. He never called me after that night, and so I kept my promise and moved on. I put my decade-old love away, and allowed myself to find a man with whom I could share a life. But this post is not about him.

I met my first love in elementary school. I was small and weird, but he looked out for me. We didn’t hang out much, but I always knew he was there. In high school, we became friends. I remember vividly the day we first started spending time together. He held the door open for me while we were leaving school. I was wearing my favourite red coat and striped silk scarf. He carried my bag, and walked me home. After that day, we spent almost all our time together. Even when I was dating other boys, we would hang out. We would go to the park together, or go for walks. Sometimes, I’d go over to his place and I would watch him play video games. We would cuddle. It was totally innocent – he was the brother I would never have. Time went on, though, and I began to like him more than that. During one of our walks, we bumped into an old teacher of ours, who assumed we were together, and who told us she’d always thought we’d end up together. At her words, I know I blushed. A time later, during one of our spats, I remember hearing through the grapevine that his sister thought I was “leading him on”. My first thought upon hearing that was – I’m quoting here – “If anything, he’s leading me on. I wish he’d kiss me already.”

We kept in touch on and off after graduation, occasionally fighting and not speaking, but he was always my best guy friend. The friend I knew I could count on, no matter what. He was dating another girl when I started seriously dating a guy my first year of university. Both of our partners put strain on our relationship. My boyfriend hated him, and I was told that his girlfriend hated me. For a time, we didn’t see each other. We lived our lives. Despite this, though, I eventually found myself spending time with my first love again, and when my relationship began to break – as his already had – he was there, as always, arms open, waiting. It was during the last few months of my relationship – during a “break” requested by my now-ex – that my first love and I shared our first kiss.

After I broke up with my boyfriend, my first love and I spent a lot of time together. I’m not sure I really realized how much I loved him until that point. I told him as much. Nothing changed except for the intimacy we shared, which I’ll pass over out of respect for him. What I will say is that I couldn’t remember feeling more cherished than when he slept next to me. He treated me as one might treat a priceless artifact. Perhaps to him I was. I will probably never know.

Time went on, and I realized how very much I wanted to be with him. I loved him with every part of me, and I wanted so badly to be a part of his life, and for him to be a part of mine. We had spent almost a decade avoiding talking about what was happening between us, and after my troublesome relationship with my previous boyfriend, I wanted to know if what I felt was reciprocated. So I asked.

It was a walk like any other we had taken before, but it felt different to me. It had been a while since we’d seen each other – relatively speaking – and I told him I wanted to discuss something. We met, as we usually did, at our old elementary school. I remember walking in silence most of the way, but I could just be forgetting. I was nervous. We got to a bench at the top of a hill, and I asked him to allow me to get out what I wanted to say. I told him I loved him – that I was in love with him, and had been for a long time. Probably longer than I realized. I asked if he loved me, too, and if there was hope for us. If, maybe, one day, we could be more than friends. I told him I didn’t need an answer right away, but I had to know. I’d loved him for so long that the pain of unrequited love had become part of me. I didn’t want it to be part of me any longer.

After that night, I waited for him to call. To text. To come by. I hoped beyond hope that he would tell me he loved me too, and that yes, I should wait. That one day, I could love him like I wanted to. But that day never came. After a while, I deleted his number from my phone. I stopped hoping. I let myself move on, knowing that I’d loved him, and that I’d been brave enough to tell him. I hoped this meant I could do so again.

September 2012, just a few months after this conversation took place, my husband – then just a friend of my ex’s – contacted me over Facebook. We started talking, and by January 2013, we were engaged. Six months later, we married. I saw my first love briefly at FanExpo that August. My heart began to pound, and I hid. We bumped into each other later at another booth, though: he said hey, and walked away. And that was it.

I wonder sometimes what would have happened if he’d called after my moonlit confession. Would he and I be together still? What about my husband – would we be friends? Would I have fallen so hard for Husband if I’d had my first love in my life still, if I’d been waiting like I said I would if he’d asked? I don’t know if I could honestly say for sure. Every moment in life changes us. The end of my relationship with one man positioned me to begin a relationship with another. My husband reminds me of my first love, sometimes. They even look a bit alike. They say most people have a type, and I guess I found mine. Generous, kind, sweet. Fun. Loving.

Gamer nerds.

Both these men have made me feel cherished so intensely that I cannot fathom not have experiencing either of them in my life. I am so immensely grateful to the man that taught me what it was to be loved, even if it didn’t end the way I’d once hoped it would. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have become the woman my husband loves now. He was such a huge part of my life that I cannot imagine a time where I did not love him. Even now, after being married to the man completely perfect for me, the man I would do anything for, I still hold true that there is a place in my heart for the first love of my life. I will always remember him, and he will always have a place in my life, even if he never takes it.

First love is important. First love tells us a lot about ourselves, and teaches us a lot, too. It makes us take risks. It allows us to experience a very particular kind of pain, and shows us we can survive it, and move on. It shows us that time heals. If we’re smart about it, first love can show us what we want out of life, and what we don’t. It teaches us to be strong, and lets us know it’s ok sometimes to be weak. First love is magical, beautiful, wonderful, and horrible all at the same time.

It helps discover who we are.

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