MY FIRST LOVE
A kiss lingered for decades until the simple insight of a child helped bring closure.
- Written bySusan McMartin
You never forget your first love. When I’ve asked people about their first love, no one ever responds with, “I don’t remember.”
I believe that the person who immediately comes to mind when asked this question must be it.
The person whose kiss you remember above all others. Whose voice can still be heard in your head. Whose well-being still matters.
My first love appeared when I was 15 years old, attending my sophomore year at University High School. Yep, I was once a Westside girl.
So there we were, in the backseat of a friend’s car leaving a party, when this boy—this total stranger—gently took my hand in his. When he got out to go, we both leaned in for what can only be described as the most unexpected and delicious kiss of my life. I didn’t even know his name.
I learned it two minutes later. From that day on, I engaged in a crazy dance with that boy that lasted decades.
We would see each other when we were single. We would not see each other when I got married. We would see each other when I got divorced … and on and on.
But all those years, all those kisses, we were never boyfriend and girlfriend. He never wanted to be. We were also never just friends.
We aren’t in each other’s lives anymore.
We don’t even talk. It’s all rather sad. But I’m not a teenager anymore. Not even close.
The other day my daughter and I were listening to the radio, when Air Supply’s sappy love song came on. If you were a teenage girl during the ‘80s, you might have cried to it while nursing a broken heart.
I turned the radio up and laughed, “Oh, baby, I used to sing this song when I was in high school because I was so crazy in love.”
My daughter asked me a question I wasn’t anticipating: “Why him, Mama?”
Why him? What was it about that boy, that man? I didn’t know. It wasn’t a list of qualities or even something shallow like how he dressed. It just was … him.
“I don’t know, baby. I just fell in love with him.”
She was quiet for a long time, then simply said, “It’s sad he didn’t love you back.”
I looked at her, took her hand, softly smiled, “Yeah, it is.”
It’s amazing how clearly my child sees things. How simply she breaks it all down. How easily she identifies emotions. Happy, sad, angry. When does that change? When does it get so complicated?
I thought about my first love the rest of the day. For years I struggled to try and understand what seemed so difficult, so painful, so confusing. Yet from the mouth of my beautiful little girl, it made sense.
He didn’t love me.
Later I tucked my daughter into bed after our nightly radio dance session and dessert, when she took my face in her hands. “I’m never going to love someone who doesn’t love me back, Mama.”
I smiled, smothered her with kisses, turned out the light. Simple, right?
Susan McMartin is a writer/producer on Two and a Half Men. She writes a column, “Studio City Mom,” at susanmcmartin.com. Susan lives in Studio City with her daughter, Hannah.