I spent a couple of years writing couples’ love stories for a newspaper’s now-discontinued Sunday lifestyle section, and quite a few of them were about reunited first loves, or those who married their high school sweethearts.
Do you ever totally forget your first love? (This excludes, of course, those who go through a divorce with said person! Then they remain unforgettable in a truly different fashion!)
The reason first love stories are so compelling to read is because there is something so powerful about a young love experience. Is it because it happens when our hearts are still innocent and pure — before that first inevitable heartbreak? Or is it because once that huge flame dies out, a few warm embers remain to keep the memory aglow?
It’s true, too, that we tend to get even more sentimental as we age, especially about memories of long ago. An unfinished love keeps some allure for many years.
Whatever keeps those tender feelings in play, some long to have that feeling again as evidenced by those who go in search of that first love. With social media around now, it is not difficult to do.
Each time I wrote of a love story, my own first love came to mind. Although we did not end up together, we are still in touch as friends. It is the kind of sentimental friendship you would feel for a best friend from way back when. So many shared experiences make for great fun in reminiscing.
The only thing truly unique about my own story is that I found a soul mate so young — a romanticist like me and a renaissance man, in the middle of a large urban high school in a working class neighborhood.
Here then is my own story.
When I was a teen, I was a romanticist and a dreamer, longing for someone to cherish me. Money was scarce too and I was surrounded by girls whose families spoiled them with everything money could buy in the ‘60s and early ‘70s.
When I was in eighth grade, I saw the Franco Zeffirelli movie “Romeo & Juliet” with Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey at least five times — I paid for it myself! A believer in fairy tales with an irrepressible optimism despite my gloomy circumstances, I knew I was destined for a great and powerful love such as the one I saw on that big screen over and over again. Oh yes, I was a dreamer.
Sometimes dreams come true. I met my prince when I was just 15 years old. In the massive universe of our urban high school, we somehow connected. He was tall (6-foot to my own 5-foot-7) and handsome, funny, smart, and talented. He was shy and old-fashioned in the way he wooed me, beginning with asking me for a date on a postcard where I had to check yes or no in an answer box. He was a grade older and it took a bit of flirting to get his interest. Once I did though, in short order, we fell deeply in love, and in our young hearts and minds we felt we were destined to be written into the great annals of love history like Romeo & Juliet, minus the tragedy.
His white horse was a brand new light blue Pontiac Firebird, and he swooped me off to great adventures on a weekly, and then daily basis in my teenage years. I was with him when I experienced my first of many rock concerts, and saw my first Broadway show. Other firsts for me were experiencing elegant dining, being brought gifts and flowers, and being made to feel like a princess for the first time in my life. We were from different socioeconomic circumstances, and he could afford to spoil me.
Aside from the great fun, the hours of time spent on our mutual love of certain music and slapstick comedy, and the excessive amount of laughter we shared, we nurtured each other’s talents and dreams at a very vulnerable and impressionable time in life. In fact, I was the first to passionately believe in his talent and knew he would become something great.
He expressed his feelings in almost daily love letters and the writing was right out of a romance novel. Both of us have become writers and he has become well-respected in Hollywood in his field. We share a mutual pride in each other’s talents and accomplishments.
I saved his letters in an old box all these years because I just knew he would be famous some day.
Mostly though, and I apologize to feminists and the like, but please read on for why: I gained self-confidence when I desperately needed some from someone close to my age. It is sad to say I got it from a romantic relationship, but his opinion of my talent, my intelligence, and my future was just the boost I needed having grown up an awkward-looking, nerdy kid who got teased a lot. He was the very first to bring about my understanding of my own value as a person.
With our immaturity, our young love wasn’t picture perfect. There was jealousy, anger, and hurt along the way. The relationship became volatile with many intoxicating highs, and conversely, devastating lows. A combination of parental pressures and other life forces and ambitions finally broke us up, but somehow we managed to remain friends all throughout these many years despite living many miles apart. My children know this great guy as an honorary “uncle” who always bestowed wonderful treats on them.
The memories I described here stay with me in the most positive and healthy way, because I truly believe they helped form the person I am today. My mature heart, knowing full well where my love priorities are, never felt the urge to run off with him as an adult. Yet, I feel compelled to tenderly keep him among my most treasured friends.