We are currently up in the air on a 9 hour flight to O’Hare International. I hope you all are doing well and are enjoying this time leading up to Christmas. Hug someone today and remember to never take anyone around you for granted.
It’s such a charged term. For many, it conjures up memories of the one that got away or of the simpler times when it’s easy to fall in love. With the internet age and the ease of reconnecting, there are many folks trying to reignite the flames of loves past – without much regard for what it does to their current life.
Somehow, somewhere, the idea that the first person that you fall in love with is supposed to change you has become firmly rooted in our culture. Long gone are the days when we first fell for our first love, the memories of why it didn’t work have dimmed while the nostalgia for how perfect life was then stands strong.
I had my first boyfriend at 16. He was the first one I kissed (an awkward peck on the lips that gave me a distaste for kissing) and the first one I exchanged “I love you” with. And here’s the horrible part. I didn’t mean it. There’s no way I could have. I was 16, I didn’t know what love was at the time. I’m not even sure that I thought I knew what it was. I think I was just going through the motions of what I was supposed to do. My parents remember it differently, but, they never were in my head. Let me back up.
My first boyfriend, let’s call him jdf and I met when he was 13 and I was 11. We became fast friends and partners in crime at the church events we went to together. I think he was 16 and I was 14 when our youth leaders told us we should date. My parent’s were nice and conservative so jdf made the sweet and grandiose statement that he would marry me when I turned 18 since I couldn’t date. 14 year old me was thrilled. I thought it was daring and romantic. Besides, what more to life was there then getting married and having kids? It was the perfect small-town dream. Fast forward to when I was 16 and he was 18, he repeated that claim to me one week…and showed up with a girlfriend to our youth group the next. Six months later, after he broke up with her, he called my best friend and asked her to ask me out. She called (she was dating his brother at the time) and against my better judgement I said yes.
I lost my close friend and partner in crime that day. Something strange happened and instead of being the person he was having fun with I was supposed to stand off to the side and silently smile at him while he goofed off with my sister and friends. Yet, this was what I had always wanted, wasn’t it? He was the one I was supposed to be with, right? Everyone said we were perfect for each other. So I kept pushing aside the doubts and making declarations about marrying him. Even though that wasn’t what I wanted. He brought up marriage regularly and I kept putting him off with wanting to go to college and see the world.
Needless to say, it didn’t end pretty. After we broke up we didn’t speak for 4 months and after that it took 6 years. He’s now happily married to the best friend that he called to ask me out through.
But I don’t think of him as my first love. Because the petty fights, the disillusionment, the skewed expectations, those aren’t a part of the love that I know and embrace now.
B is the only man that I have ever loved. I may have told jdf that I loved him, but it wasn’t true. (Yes, I know that this makes teenage me horrible. I realized it right after I said it, or more accurately, I realized it when I didn’t want to say it anymore) It took me a lot of growing up to learn what love was and is not. I have no nostalgia, no yearning, for love’s past; because the love of now and always is just too great to be surpassed.
Love is not just a giddy feeling in my stomach; though B still gives me butterflies when I see him. Love is finding my home in his arms. Love is not just a choice; I used to say that “love is a choice you make on bad days,” but there is no choice in me loving B. He is my whole life and I couldn’t possibly choose to not love him as that goes against every fiber of my being. Love is the promise of forever in his eyes.