“Maybe someday it will workout.” I said, as the garage door started to close between us.
“Chi…” He sputtered, saying my childhood nickname as our last seconds together ticked by.
“I’ll always love you,” I sighed, feeling like my heart was breaking in my chest.
“I’ll never stop loving you,” He replied, as my garage door closed on my first love, and my first real relationship.
Ah to be young and hopelessly, dramatically, idiotically in love. I fuck you not, that conversation actually happened a good seven plus years ago. It seemed like the end of the world, that first excruciating heartbreak. At seventeen years old I had no idea how I was going to keep going. Adam had been the love of my (early adolescent) life. But it didn’t work anymore. So I felt like I didn’t work anymore. Was I embarrassingly theatrical about it? Hell yeah. Was it warranted? Maybe not, but at seventeen, it didn’t really matter.
Adam was the perfectly chichéd, first high school boyfriend. We had met in second period science, when he passed me a note, asking me out to a movie. I had said yes, our parents dropped us off that Friday, and we didn’t stop talking until late into the night. We would walk hand-in-hand to class and and make out in the middle of the hallway just so people would see us together. I wore his tattered brown jacket every damn day, and when I got my first dance team sweatshirt, I (regretfully, now) gave it to him. We would call each other at midnight, praying our parents wouldn’t hear, and text until the morning, giggling at every inside joke we created. Adam was hot. A catch. A “jock” if we still lived in the 1950s, and on the crew team if we lived in the present day. He had dated plenty of girls before me, but something about us was special.
Something about us worked.
So we decided to be “boyfriend and girlfriend.” I would lie to my parents and ride around in his car after school, and he would promise me the world even though we had no idea what the world was really like. I gave him everything, from my heart to my virginity. The more my parents forbid me to see him, the more time I spent skipping class to be with him. You know, The Notebook type shit.
We ended as any young love ends. Drawn out, dramatic, and due to a young person’s selfishness and desire to live for only themselves. (Also known as cheating, but that’s not what this piece is about.)
The point is, after a year and a half of being together, we parted ways. And seven years later? We’re still not together. Sorry, this isn’t one of those stories. Sure, over the past years we’ve reconnected casually here and there. A Facebook message the first few holidays. A phone call when one of us got our hearts broken again. A moonlit walk on the beach, when my life was falling apart and a sleepover, when he said he wanted us to try again. Since we broke up years ago we’ve kissed twice and hooked up once (just mouth stuff so like, be cool) while contemplating if we should be together a hundred times.
But we’ve always said no. And we’ll keep saying no. And no matter how perfect we might be together, we know it will never work. There’s too much history. Too much between us. Too many lies and fights and hurt feelings underneath it all. We’ve both moved on. But no matter who we date, what we do, or where we live, there’s this little part of me that still loves him.
There’s a little part of me that will always love him.
It doesn’t happen often. After years of growing apart he doesn’t cross my mind much. Sometimes it will be because of a song, randomly coming onto the radio and transporting me back to a different lifetime. A time when he kissed me tenderly, laid me on the bed, and asked me if I was ready. Maybe it will be a necklace, trapped behind my dresser, only to be found and unleash a barrage of memories. That time when he stood in my driveway on Christmas Eve, giving me my first diamond and promising to keep my heart safe. Or maybe it’s just thanks to a Facebook algorithm that sends me on a stalking quest of his life.
I see pictures of him with a beautiful girl, looking so incredibly happy. I wonder if we were ever like that. Thinking back it’s like our relationship happened to someone else. Was it really with him? I keep scrolling and see clips of them laughing, or singing together on guitars (yeah, they’re that couple). I see him posting about a new job, in a field I never knew he was interested in. He’s playing pool and attending parties and traveling with a girl I’ve never sent a creepily possessive Facebook message to (don’t act like you never sent a guy’s new girlfriend a report card about him). He’s grown up. So have I. But every few months I find myself deep in his social media, looking at tagged posts from his new girlfriend and trying to comprehend the person he is now.
Because that guy I fell in love with in high school? He’s not there anymore. And I think that’s what makes our first love so special.
Everyone after that is just someone between the first and the last. They’re lessons. Speed bumps or bridges. People to pass the time with until we find the one (or just the next one). And no matter how many other people there are, no one can replace your first love.
Now, as I think back on that relationship and on him, I think of him as the 16-year-old who made my heart flutter in Chemistry class. Of the boy who gave me my first obsessive feelings and my first pregnancy scare. The guy who carried my books to class and met me after school. I don’t think about the man he is now. The one who studies at a far off school or moves in with a girlfriend. A girlfriend who isn’t me. But that doesn’t matter. It’s not him I want. It’s just a bittersweet longing for the naive passion we once shared.
Because that first love is preserved. A special something that you hold onto forever. I’ll never be with Adam, because the Adam I love is stuck in 2009, waiting to hand me a letter before study hall. And no matter how he changes or how I grow, we’ll always have each other. We’ll always have that past. Because the first person who opens your heart (and quite possibly your legs) stays there forever..
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