I like to think that no matter what happens in our lives and how much time eventually passes, the one thing we'd never forget would be our first love.
These past balmy nights, the ones that come with a soft wind blowing through my hair, take me back to my summer before college. I knew then I'd be leaving home at the end of August, and my high school boyfriend could also feel a change in the air.
It was the bittersweet premonition that we could no longer ignore — that time would not stop for us. We were both on the edge of our golden days and somehow, even being as young as we were, we knew our eternal place in each other's lives.
We were to forever be each other's first love.
There's a magical suspension to the days when you're 17 that keeps the past from ever feeling dead. It's not that there's self-delusion in how we remember the days of our first love, it's that there's true wonder because of the word first.
No one forgets his or her first anything. The first time you're seen as other than someone's child, the first time you're singled out enough to be pursued — these are all the right ingredients to the making of a memory forever imprinted as a chapter in our life.
I had met Kevin, my high school boyfriend, through Steve, a friend of his whom I had been dating. Steve and I had been dating short of a month, when Kevin risked a friendship by telling him that he was going to ask me out, and wasn't asking permission to do it.
If this is beginning to sound like a modern day jousting for a fair maiden's hand, then I guess we've seen the same movies. Kevin had already swept me off my feet before even ringing the doorbell of my mother's house on the last day of school — a dozen roses in his arms — telling me he had told Steve he was coming over to ask me out.
Suffice it to say, I told Steve that night we would no longer be dating.
The entire months of June, July and August, were spent counting the hours/days until Kevin and I would see each other next. We enjoyed a simple friendship that sprang from genuinely liking each other. We never ran out of words and talked about everything. We laughed, we giggled and our eyes twinkled from the joy of being together.
We both worked during that summer and to not lose out on any possible time together, he'd either wait outside of the restaurant where I waitressed for my shift to end or I'd be waiting for him outside the sneaker store where he worked. We used to sit outside at night in his yellow two-door sedan, sipping on orange shakes, telling funny stories and holding hands across the front seats. We celebrated our weekly anniversaries, heading to the mall on a Monday (the day we began dating), and making a beeline to the instant photo booths, where our smiles were recorded on strips of black and white film.
On the last night of our summer vacation, as we sat in his car with the windows rolled down and the breeze blowing through, Kevin opened the clasp to a small diamond pendant, and placed it around my neck.
With my hand over the heart-shaped small diamond that floated on my chest, I thought of how I was a girl that someone bought diamond necklaces for.
We never forget our first loves because of the way they make us feel — cherished beyond belief.
I sit outside of my house now, during the end of summer, listening to the wind chimes tinkle gently in the tree behind me. I remember a girl who was once made to feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. It is a memory, not a haunting, and my feelings live forever in a world separate from but within my life today.
These moments are kept safe and apart, but always seem to return on a night like this. Next month is September and I know that I'll soon be receiving a Facebook request that comes every year at exactly this time. The notification will pop up, along with the same message he sends each autumn:
I'm thinking of you.
I thought you'd answer me by now.
It'd be nice to just talk.
I imagine him sitting outside, feeling the last warm air of August nights, as I do, knowing it's this very thing that makes him log in to find me again.
I close my eyes, and know I'll never answer him. The beauty and untouchable perfection of what we had then, after all these decades, is something I selfishly never want to lose by pulling them into the world of now.