Forgetting Your First Love

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I have to think real hard if I want to remember my first love. It doesn’t come naturally anymore, time has killed the ability to feel things on command. Now if I want to recall our woozy sex at 5 a.m. and holding your body until I felt like I had sufficiently soaked enough of you into my bones, I have to concentrate. I have to close my eyes, play the right song, and transport myself there. It’s like buying an airline ticket to a deserted part of your brain. “No one goes here anymore,” your brain tells you quizzically. “Are you sure you want to visit?”

Yes. It’s important that I never forget you, although I have a feeling that it’s not entirely up to me. Time dictates what gets remembered and what gets left behind. I’m at the mercy of the clocks. Sure, I can make suggestions and forceful nudges but at the end of the day, I’m powerless. Powerless to the ultimate killer of all things.

My parents were married for fifteen years, together for twenty, and had three children. They’ve been divorced since 1997 and I think it took them till the Millennium to completely forget each other. They readily cleansed their bodies and minds until there wasn’t a trace of the other one left. Their relationship wasn’t a particularly terrible one. They just grew up and grew apart. Nothing to see here, just some generic falling out of love nonsense. Still, I never did quite understand how they could just remove each other from their lives so easily. I never did grasp this idea of beating time to the punch. “You don’t have to do anything,” they would say. “We’ve already taken care of it. We’ve already disposed of the emotions.”

The only way I can make sense of ex-husbands and wives no longer giving a flying fuck about each other is that it’s easier to forget when you get older. At that point, you’ve experienced such a sea of disappointments that your heart is strong enough to withstand another one. The rawness is gone. Every little thing doesn’t hurt so bad or keep you up at night. You are your own protector.

I grieved my first love until there was literally nothing left to grieve. I grieved the shit out of it until it became a fucking embarrassment. “Wait,” I would scream. “Don’t take this away from me just yet! There’s still a little portion I haven’t mourned yet!” I thought that this was just the natural way, this was how you got people out of your system. And it was. It’s that way for your first love and then maybe your second. Then a funny thing happens and everything stops making you wince. You can stop going through this life feeling like a raw nerve, someone who could cry at the slightest provocation and subsequently spend the entire day in bed. This is what they call maturity, I suppose, and in many ways I’m thankful for it. I have to admit though that I’m sad to see time doing its job already. I’m sad to see my first love disappearing because for a long time it was a big part of my identity. I was someone with a broken heart and that’s all I had interest in being. I didn’t want to be recovered and single. Boring. That means I’ve officially been forgotten. I wanted to be the person unraveling at the seams. I wanted to be someone with visible wounds because it showed people that I was someone who Loved and was Fearless and had Experiences. Most importantly, it showed that I was someone worth loving — at least for a little while.

But now that’s not the case, now I’m just someone who has a collection of exes. I’m not allowed to hold on to everything anymore; my brain has pushed stuff out.

It’s okay, it’s okay. Because only when you forget do you allow yourself to remember something new. TC Mark

About the author

Ryan O'Connell

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