Your lips were not there during my first kiss. You were not the first person to hold my hand or stroke my hair. You were not the first person to fuck me. You are not the first person I’ve woken up next to and smiled. Not the first to gaze at me, adoringly, your head cocked to one side. Not the first to contract my name into a one syllable nickname. You cannot claim to be the first person to see me with no make up on for an entire day, lounging about in an oversized T-shirt and watching bad films on your couch. You are not the first person I’ve introduced to my family or my friends. Not the first to take me out to breakfast after I stayed over at your house for the first time. Not the first to construct elaborate meals from the leftovers in the fridge with me after a long night out. You are not the first person I’ve stayed up sharing secrets with until four in the morning.
You are not the first person I’ve written about.
You are not my first love.
You’re not even my second.
And I guess that could make us less special. I guess we could feel that it’s all been done before, several times. I guess it has been. We’ve had kisses and sex and lazy days and dinners and parties with other people. We’ve done all of this.
But here’s the thing: when there’s something to compare with, the memory of that something makes each of our perfect moment all the more special. Because it’s one thing to feel ‘firsts’. It’s one thing to look over at a boy on a long distance bus and find out he’s read the obscure books you have and decide that that means something profound. It’s one thing to admit a dark and personal anecdote from your past that you’ve never said out loud and were certain you never would, and then decide that your ability to share your innermost secrets makes this moment, this strange boy, somehow unique. It’s one thing to look over a coffee table at a pair of unusually focused blue eyes and read into that instant, decide that your shared amusement and engagement and obvious mutual attraction is a sign of some or other meaningful connection.
It’s another thing to know that these things happen, sometimes. To know that ‘firsts’ don’t necessarily end up meaning a thing. To be able to predict the inevitable complications, the quiet dissatisfaction, the startling discontent. To know that we’re not perfect human and we’ve both made mistakes and are probably going to make more. To know that our perfect moments are unlikely to be anything more than exactly that. Perfect instants that happen and then swiftly fade away.
But you see, having something to compare with makes some moments feel more perfect. Having something to compare with means a perfect moment isn’t perfect just because it’s a ‘first’. It can still be just as perfect in its quietly unexpected way, but it can also be better than each of the last perfect moments. Easier. Happier. Entirely anxiety free. Because there’s an existing precedent, but this is somehow better. Maybe it’s a question of practice. Maybe we’ve trained ourselves to succeed at perfect moments.
So I’m glad you’re not my first love, and I’m glad you’re not my second. I’m glad I’ve fucked up once too often and been too much and too little and too interested and too passive. I’m glad I’ve done all of this before.
I’m glad you have too.
Because in the end, it ensures that we’re better at us. You asked me how to contract my name instead of just doing it however you like. You bring me coffee without me asking for it, and you never forget how I drink it. You like it when I tell you what I’m thinking, even when my thoughts are in a certified jumble. You don’t complain about having to clean up my endless messes. And when you cock your head to the side and gaze at me adoringly, I know it’s not just because it’s the first time you’ve felt this sort of thing. It’s because it’s me. I’m me. And you’re you. And we’re us, and we like each other.
So you’re not my first love, and you’re not my second, and you’re not the first person to wind up being documented in my words.
But I’m glad you get to be a person that I write about now.