My First Love
When I first fell in love, I didn’t know it. My world revolved around that person. We were attached at the hip. Everything they did was beautiful, even the bad things were just insights into their glorious humanity. Their looks were impressive, but came out faded like a watercolor painting compared to the splendor of their whole personality.
You’ve probably noticed by now that I’ve carefully used the only third-person gender-neutral pronoun in the common vernacular. That would, of course, be because the first person I fell in love with was a girl.
I did this quite often before: an intense attachment to one female friend. I would acknowledge the attractiveness of boys, and want to date them. But this wanting to date and spend time with boys was mixed in with all this hoopla about holding hands and dates and flowers. Besides, all the boys still thought I had cooties, being that I wore glasses and thought reading science fiction was the coolest fucking hobby ever. I had tons and tons of friends that happened to be boys, as long as I remembered to be myself and stop acting out the script of femininity.
However, my best friends were always female. I kind of look on those series of intense co-dependent friendships as a lead-in to falling in love with her, and the realization many years later that I was not straight.
To this day, I really regret not taking the chance at something right in front of me. Did I mention that the girl I fell in love with was openly bisexual? She was everything I once wanted to be: open, free, spontaneous, tall, intelligent, and intimidatingly feminine. I was, or so I thought, awkward, fat, and short. Those feelings of inadequacy were always banished around her, though, because compliments, sincere ones, would fall from her lips spontaneously. She probably had no idea how her little comments on my cute shirt and pretty eyes made my year. I was only really close with her for a semester or so, but I’ll never forget the way she made me feel.
It’s odd, come to think of it, how different love is from books and movies, and how much better. For one, it never just happened. I never knew, and didn’t until she was years out of my life. I got some sort of clue with how casual I am with most of my friendships but how seriously I’d take her. I’d dress up, just for her. I’d clean out my car, just for her. I’d make up stories about sleeping wrong just so she’d give me a neck massage. I’d stop myself from gushing about her intelligence, her hair–beautiful long or short–, her glorious operatic voice, her intensity, her drive, the way she drove most people mad with hate, and how it was completely unearned.
Most people really did not like her. Boys, for one, would rather date their sister than accept her invitation to dances. She never waited for them, she walked right up and asked. I never understood how anyone could dislike her; how anyone could think she was mean or petty or rude. To me, she was perfect. Even when she wasn’t perfect, she was still perfect.
I look back and think of all the hints. She openly flirted with me. Maybe it was youthful experimentation. Perhaps the reason we lost touch so quickly is becuase she was hurt by my dismissal. I berate myself, up and down, for not figuring out that I loved her sooner. Even today, four years after I fell in love, I wonder, “what if?” What if I had taken her up on those silly offers to make out for fun? What if I had spontaneously kissed her those thousand times I wished I had? What if I had, stupid as I am apt to be, figured out that I’m not straight, not at all, and as many times as I avowed I was (did I mention that she never, smart girl, believed me?) would didn’t change that?
I regret that I threw away my first kiss on some boy that I hate to this day for his callousness. I regret that I never figured out that I loved her until she was gone and engaged to someone else. I regret that I was not strong enough to love myself for just myself, not for a fake image of what I ought to be: straight. After all, what I loved in her was what I couldn’t face in myself.
But I never ever regret falling in love. Because I know that it’s possible, that even as fucked up as this world is, that it’s possible to find someone else that is perfect for you, even when you fight and hate each other and do stupid things. Because they’re them, and you’re you, and that’s perfect.
More than anything, I miss that. All I can hope for is that next time I have the strength to fight for it and see it for what it is before it’s gone.