Discuss your first love.
I’m very susceptible to reading deep into these prompts. Are we talking about someone I loved or an activity I loved? Today, I’m going to explore the former.
Like the army says, “no names, no pack drill”.
We met, literally, this one time at band camp. There wasn’t a flute involved, but she was this blonde girl who caught my eye and that I managed to find myself in a gazebo with late in the evening along with a group of friends. One by one, the others dwindled, and then it was just the two of us, and before I could even realize, there was a kiss involved. My first kiss. It took until the age of 14 to get there, but it was monumental in my mind. We started dating immediately. It was the spring of 1993. I was in Grade 9, she in Grade 8.
I know that I was a giant ball of teenaged hormones, and honestly it’s hard to know anything about love at that age, but I really learned a lot about the feeling of love with her. As a kid who felt like he didn’t get a lot of positive attention from folks, to have someone, and especially someone I was attracted to, spend time with me willingly, and who actually seemed to like me, this was something absolutely out of this world.
Our relationship didn’t last long – three months, I think – but it was three blissful months where I realized just how intoxicating love could be. I still remember the smell of her shampoo, the shape of her hands, how she kissed, all manners of little details from 25 years ago.
Our lives orbited around music and each other for the rest of our high school days. We dated again for a brief period a couple of years later, again with the same blissed-out feeling for me. Alas, it didn’t last long again.
She and I shared a bed for a spell once, although nothing ever happened between us. We were at band camp, staying at my aunt and uncle’s place in Kelowna, in their guest house that they lovingly referred to as the Bates Motel.
We both ended up in post-secondary in Vancouver, but didn’t see a whole lot of each other. We went to separate schools. I’d joined the army by this point and was starting to forge that whole part of my life. She wound up marrying my best friend, and I attended their wedding.
She moved off to Saskatchewan, and later the Kootenays, where she’d taken up jobs teaching. Many years later, we were both in Calgary – she there with her husband while he was undergoing cancer treatment, and me being on the road and performing at the Calgary Jazz Festival. It was a night where it would have been so simple to re-create that scene under the gazebo, and even a chance for things to go further (or maybe that was just my read). We didn’t, and that was okay. But there was this one moment as we’re standing outside my hotel and “Reelin’ in the Years” was playing:
You been telling me you were a genius since you were seventeen
In all the time I’ve known you I still don’t know what you mean
The weekend at the cottage didn’t turn out like you’d planned
The things that pass for knowledge I can’t understandSteely Dan – “Reelin’ in the Years”
There was something so incredibly poetic and/or cliché about that scene, a song from one of my favourite groups of all time playing while I was with the girl I’d first fallen in love with.
After I got posted away from BC, she’d drift into my thoughts from time to time, and get stuck in my head for awhile. Finally, once I was posted back to BC, we regained contact. For a brief moment, I had it in the back of my head that there might be a microscopic chance that we might reconnect, but alas, it wasn’t to be. Eventually, we got a chance to meet over drinks, again, while I was on the road, and it was wonderful to see her after all these years. She really hadn’t changed at all – still beautiful.