First Love

The sweet things in life stay in memory forever, long after injustices, obstacles and hardships have all fallen away.  I heard the first movement of Charles Ives’ Symphony #3 playing on my car radio, and with the speed of thought I went back over 40 years to when I had first heard it.

I fell in love for the first time at age 14.  I had experienced crushes before that, and a variety of sloppy attempts at kissing and handholding and being best friends with girls.  This was different.  I thought she was a goddess.  She had long, dark hair and ample curves.  She was intelligent and had a lovely deep voice.  We sat next to each other in 9th grade classes.

She was dating a friend of mine.  I helped him make a birthday present for her, a mixtape of songs they liked.  I must have looked at her the same way my dog looks at me.  She noticed, and was flattered.  My friend was athletic and not as smart as she was, and he wanted to move on.  He gave me his blessing to try and get closer to her.  She and I co-authored a dramatic scene for English class.  It was terrible.  We got an A, and became friends.

I began riding my bike to her house over on the nicer side of town.  I would bring records for us to play and talk about.  I told her an enormous lie.  I spun a tale from my imagination about the styles of kissing practiced in different countries, just so we could try them.  I called my favorite way of kissing “the American Method”.  Not entirely dry, but not too wet either, with just a hint of tongue play.  We kissed for hours.  We talked on the phone for hours.  Neither of us wanted to hang up.

We would have continued the relationship, but her family moved to the East Coast the next year.  We wrote letters to each other.  Immediately after graduating from High School I bought the most expensive vehicle I could afford, a Honda 175cc motorcycle, and drove it halfway across the continent to where she lived.  The police in Pennsylvania stopped me.  I thought I had done something wrong, but they only wanted to ask “Did you really drive that dinky little bike all the way from Iowa?”  I wore out three chains going there and back, and I had to stop every hundred miles or so because my legs went numb from the vibration.

I carried a folk guitar in an oversized case, so I could also put clothes in it.  I wore a backpack with more clothes and whatever else I needed.  When I reached New York City, I was wearing a white shirt with purple paisley patterns.  I stopped for gas and asked for directions.  The burly attendant sneered and pointed, “It’s that way…Sarge.”  Graffiti on the overpass greeted me.  It said, “Welcome to Hell.”

I was green and 18, but I got along with New Yorkers because I had grown up loving Warner Brothers cartoons and knew how to speak their language.  I played in the Village for change.  I stayed with the goddess at her parents’ house on Long Island.  We made secret appointments for the middle of the night to sneak out of the house and have sex in the back yard.  It was furtive, quiet, intense.

We kept in touch by letter through the next couple of years.  She came to my wedding.  A few years later, she invited me to visit her in Chicago.  I knew she was living with her boyfriend, but I knew nothing about him.  When I arrived, they were dressed completely in white.  She said she had become a Sufi, and wanted me to address her by another name.  She droned on and on about purity, and other expressions of exclusivity.  Though I had planned to stay for several days, I told her I needed to leave.  We rode part of the way back to the airport on the Elevated Train.  I told her I was happy she had found a philosophy that sustained her, but that I was most interested in equal compassion toward all without regard to rank.  She sighed and said, “You knew I was a snob.”  We kissed chastely.  I never saw her again.

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18 Comments

Filed under Emotions, Music

18 responses to “First Love

  1. Wow! In my opinion, this is the best post you have ever written. It has: truth, passion, and a hint of mystery. I love how you refer to her as “Goddess.” I also love the details of the kissing. My favorite post of yours! More….posts like this please?

    Liz

    • I’m glad you liked it. Unfortunately I’m not able to predict when this sort of “aha” moment will happen to me. When they do, I will try to write them down. I hadn’t thought about her in years.

  2. Gorgeous (and so’s the music)!

  3. This is so beautiful, Mikey. It’s so romantic and brought a small lump to my throat by the end. It’s memories like this that help overcome the darker times; it’s so lovely, and I am so grateful you chose to share this with us :)

    • I thought about your style, Anna, and used a trick of craft I’ve seen you do a hundred times. If you write about big things using simple words, it invites the reader to flesh it out in their own heads and hearts. Most adults have fallen in love. I didn’t have to over-explain how powerful it is when it’s your first time. It works better to zoom in on a few essential details.

      I have also been enjoying your latest stories, but some kind of glitch in the WP software is preventing me from leaving comments anywhere but here and in the Forums. I’m looking around my settings, but haven’t found a solution yet. Sorry.

      • I’m very honoured, Mikey! I’m glad you are able to take something from what I write. I very rarely am able to see what I do in a clear way- I dare say I suffer somewhat from writer’s envy, but I have to say that the way you wrote this post was so clear and beautiful and I hope you can know just how wonderful it is :)

        And that sucks… have you posted in the ‘Staff Questions’ bit of the forum to see if there’s anything they can do to help?

        • I posted the question in more than one place, but they had such a busy weekend messing around with the Topics pages I didn’t expect immediate reply. It could even be an issue on my end like browser incompatibility etc, so I’m going to be patient and continue trying.

  4. Nice piece Thanks for letting us have a glimpse of your soul.

    I have someone whom I have very romantic, idealized memories about. I need to see them after the years for that last final visit, like yours with her, just so I can let of of the illusion in my head. I know that I would have a reaction similar to yours…and I can guarantee you he is not a Sufi!

    • Of course I have nothing against a person choosing to be a Sufi. I was afraid that her concept of those beliefs required her to either try to convert me or overtly reject me. I left before either of those actions could take place. As a result I was able to remember our relationship when it had served to educate us about love, untainted by what I would have considered a bad ending.

      Everyone changes, and sometimes we no longer fit with those we used to. It happened to me a lot before I was in my mid-thirties.

  5. This is one of my favorite posts of yours (or anyone’s, for that matter).

    From the very first sentence I was riveted, and couldn’t wait to find out what happened…was definitely not expecting the Sufi twist!

    Such a great story, Mikey! You really need to write a book.

    • Thanks, B. I can’t say I expected it either :) And I lost my cereal laughing over your latest (perfect man) Facebook parody. WP upgrades left me temporarily unable to comment on other people’s sites, but I see my reaction is there now! Is this what love feels like?

  6. IM: I’m intrigued by this post, as are others, especially “the American Method [of kissing]. Not entirely dry, but not too wet either, with just a hint of tongue play.” You make is read like a description of a vintage wine. (Sounds like a pretty good vintage at that.)

  7. Hey Mikey, I put your blog on my blogroll. Your writing lately has been wonderful and thought provoking!

    • Thanks, Liz. I care a lot about trying to give readers something worth their time. I appreciate your compliment. And I think your writing is becoming more focused. (I know you are using your space to work out lots of things.)

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