First Love

July 25, 2007

You know how one moment you’re living your day in the most ordinary way possible and then the next, something takes you back into memory? This is such an odd phenomenon as a mother, because in so many ways my life seemed to start at the birth of my children. Every day, the majority of the people with whom I spend time don’t know of the me before them. Heck, sometimes I forget that I lived a full color existence before Abby, Rob and Dan.

I’m going to date myself here, but driving home from meeting Tim for lunch, two songs came on, one right after the other. The first, Cheap Trick’s, “The Flame,” became a very private sad song for me after my break up with a guy I’ll call Sid. Yes, I’ll admit that it’s a totally corny, sappy love song…but still one that captured a particular time in my life. Sid and I dated for only about five months, such a ridiculously short time in retrospect, but oh the intensity of those five months…we met at church, and he was my first love. I’ve developed a theory that most of us only love like that once — the falling headlong, feeling sweaty and nauseated with the thrill of it, unable to sleep because each and every moment with the loved one is so precious, so perfect — why sleep? Loving and being loved by Sid was being swept up by wave after wave of emotion, not so much about the long term commitment needed to survive as a couple…and after that relationship ended, I knew on some level that I would never love anyone quite like I had him.

Because I was cautious, then after the breakup. I had given him something in the transaction — something I could never get back, and no, I don’t mean physically or sexually. But I had given him that “firstness” of my heart — the unfettered, fearless, total belief of the young. And coming back from losing that…wow. It sounds melodramatic as I read over what I’ve written here, but all I can say to defend it is that for me, being young was an exceedingly melodramatic time — the highs so very very high and the lows unspeakable in their desperation. One of the best parts of growing up for me has been the balancing between these two poles, thus finding myself more often in the center.

But at nineteen I had none of the hard won wisdom I do at thirty nine (I expect I’ll say the same thing of fifty nine!). I just knew that loving a man would never, could never be the same as it had been with Sid. And I was right. Falling in love with Tim was an incredible high — to know and be known so thoroughly and to find someone who fitted (and fits) me — I’ve tried never to take that for granted. And if I fell a little more thoughtfully, a little more carefully — well, that’s okay too. Over the years I’ve learned that loving someone has so much less to do with emotion and everything to do with choosing and committing for both parties — when you, as a hopeless screw-up, can love someone in his own messes as he does for you — then, I think the truly good stuff of love takes root and grows. And thank you God, I have that with my dear husband.

But Sid. Twenty years after the fact (and I can’t believe I’m even saying that!), there’s a blurry softness to my memories, a fondness, a private smile. I’m sure that I partially forget the gut wrenching sadness and hopelessness and simply dwell on that feeling — that once in a lifetime giddy joyful feeling.

After Cheap Trick came Modern English’s “Melt with You“. Our song. I laughed out loud, a delighted little burble that my trip through memory could continue a moment longer. “What is it, Mom?” asked my son from the back seat of the mini-van (and oh yes, the mighty have fallen, my friends!).

“Nothing, sweetie.”

I sang along the rest of the way home.


4 Responses to “First Love”

  1. Andy Whitman said

    It is amazing how those memories come back unbidden, triggered by a smell, or the way the light appears, or, yes, a song.

    Having a good (well, good is relative) thirteen years on you, the songs that trigger the First Love memories for me are from the early ’70s. Joni Mitchell still gets me every time, at least partly because is perpetually nineteen:

    Richard got married to a figure skater
    And he bought her a dishwasher and a coffee percolator
    And he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on
    And all the house lights left up bright
    I’m gonna blow this damn candle out
    I dont want nobody comin over to my table
    I got nothing to talk to anybody about

    Yeah, I know, she’s singing about a guy. But I remember that feeling, and the delicous misery of it all, like it was yesterday.

  2. Beth said

    Hey, no fair posting a comment better written than the actual post šŸ˜€ Yes, delicious misery (at least in retrospect — back then it was misery, just misery) is a perfect description.

  3. Amanda Anderson said

    Fabulous! Loved reading this one Beth! You brought a huge smile to my face šŸ™‚ šŸ™‚ Thank you for your words! šŸ™‚ What a great feeling to remember and I LOVE that you sang along at the end.


    p.s. you are so cool šŸ˜‰ haha!

  4. Amanda Anderson said

    oh and a comment to Andy whitman too, LOVE that Joni Mitchell song. That whole album is one of my favorites. Just wanted to say šŸ™‚

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