Love, does it evolve and change as we age? Or are the war scars from failed relationships too deep to just fall into that crazy rabbit hole without a bit of trepidation? What we feel as kids, people often label as a crush or puppy love and discredit it as fleeting, but my young emotions ran deep and rival my adult experiences. As I recall it, first love was something of whirlpool style spinning insanity, where our immature hearts felt as if the world had been turned upside down and grinded peppermill style into tiny fractured pieces of joy, pain, desperation, complete utter humility and above all, this fantastic high, that overtook both body and mind.
I was always a precocious child and I started to have romantic inclinations way before it was appropriate to do so. I had a few boyfriends from early on; the standard will you go with me type schoolyard love, that usually lasted a few days, until I realized that this meant I had to talk to said grimy elementary boy. It was clear early on I was to be a Fem Fatale, breaking my first boys heart in 5th grade, leading him to dedicated “Tainted Love” to me on the bus ride home.
But my first love…awe so sweet, it’s a feeling that I have tried to recapture over and over my entire life. I lived in a very small town at the time. The school was 7th – 12th and the older boys fascinated me. It was the mid 80’s and I was toying with New Wave in this small logging town and sadly there were not many that shared my vision for asymmetrical hairdo’s and Duran Duran. One day as I was standing waiting for the bus in a black jumpsuit with tire tracks and splattered paint a la the 80’s, when two boys walked by, laughed and said, "did you get run over by a bike?" I looked up, to see them standing there with long bangs, up collars, baggy pants rolled up to the ankles and deck shoes with no socks! They were New Wave boys and I instantly had a crush on the dark haired one, Jon. My crush lasted the whole year and I lingered in the sophomore hallway as much as I could, trying to catch a glimpse of him. As the school year came to a close we received our yearbooks and I gathered up every ounce of my courage and asked Jon to sign my yearbook. It’s funny I have no recollection of what Jon wrote but his friend Robert also signed my book. Robert closed his note with, "I wish I had hang out with you and gotten to know you better this year. I could never quite find the courage to speak to you." It’s funny how I spent so many hours obsessing over Jon and never even noticed Robert.
That same evening I was riding my bicycle in the parking lot of the local Safeway when a car pulled up behind me and honked. I went flying off my bike and slid across the asphalt. When I looked up I saw Robert in a little green car. He quickly jumped out of the car to help me up. I was of course mortified and tried to hop directly back on my bike and hightail it out of there!! He stood in front of my bike, blocking my exit and asked if I wanted to hangout. I did not even know if I was allowed to hangout with boys, so I said yes and told him to meet me at the courthouse at 7. This was where all the skaters boys hung and seemed like a convenient way to sneak out without having to ask if I could go on a date.
We met and honestly that first night is still a blur. I know we went out to a party at the college campus and that we ended up at his friend house drinking Boonsfarm Strawberry Hills but I cannot remember a single thing said. I was so nervous and excited that I recall my head just swirling and spinning the whole time. The night involved a lot of staring, giggling, hand-holding which all eventually lead to my first ever, goodnight kiss that sent me skipping home in my lace-less Keds feeling like I was in LOVE!!!
From there it just pretty much just kept moving. Boy meets girl, boy tries to run over girl, boy and girl fall in love. It’s funny how when two people fall for each other there is never that uncomfortable conversation of where do we stand? You just are. He and I just were. I spent every waking second with him for the rest of the year. We used to drive out to this field, lay on our backs and stare up at the night for hours upon hours talking about space, infinity, birth, death, social injustice, music, art until I realized it was 4 am. It was the first time that I realized I was not the only person on earth that felt lonely or like an outcast. It was the first time that I realized everyone’s family is bizarre and dysfunctional. We spent the whole summer together: swimming at the river, hanging out at the graveyard, making out, he taught me how to drive a car, we spent hours together shopping for music, we loved the smiths, abc, u2, berlin, kraftwork, joy division, the cure. So much of who I am today was discovered that summer.
Those years in my life were very strange years, my mother had gone of the deep-end, I was stuck in the small hick town and I just felt terribly out of place in the world…He was literally the thing that was keeping me sane and grounded. I felt as if my whole life was bound to him and I would die if he was ever taken away. And then, suddenly, the universe was ready to teach me about life and loss.
At the end of the summer, He moved away. His mom got a new job and they took off to L.A. It was so sudden; I had no time to prepare. He was there one day and just gone the next. And it left me reeling for months, years even. I had to say goodbye to my first love, forever.
The last time I saw him I was standing in my front doorway. I was wearing bright pink lipstick, a white dress with neon squares on it and pink leggings. I was barefoot. He was just stopping in to say goodbye for the week. He and his mom were going to look for a house and then would return for their things. I was worried that I would smear my lipstick so I just gave him a small peck on his lips, knowing I would see him in a week to say goodbye. He sauntered down my stairs and coyly blew me a kiss over his shoulder, "See you kid", He said. And that was it. His mom changed their plans and sent movers for their things. Robert never returned.
I spoke to him on the phone a few times after he left, but when you are that young and far away the calls just stop coming. He was gone to the big city and I was left to my own devices in this crappy little country town. My tiny little girlie heart was broken. How could he be gone? What was I going to do? Why did I not kiss him goodbye?
Time moves on, and little hearts heal themselves till just the tiniest bit of scar tissue remains. But till this day, there is no amount of lipstick that has ever stopped me from making every goodnight kiss, every single parting smooch, every single touch of my lips, rival a scene from an old black and white film. Every kiss I give, I am standing in the rain upon and old train platform, steam enveloping my body grasping to my soon to be parted lover, and every ounce of my body is crying for him to stay.