I don’t know how you can tell if you have had your first love yet. Some people say it was their first relationship, that one person you dated forever and you aren’t sure how it lasted so long. Others insist it was Zac Efron or their second grade teacher. Most people say it’s the first person they considered marrying or their first “real” relationship in college (because anything pre-college isn’t real or valid and everything only counts if your courses begin with four random letters and end in three numbers). My question, forever, has been whether it needed to be shared love, requited love, to be a first love. Or a love at all.
I was reminded of my first love when I was craving grilled cheese today. And my friends reading this may cringe or groan or want me to shut the fuck up about this already, but fuck you guys, because this is my blog. But I am here to tell you all that a first love can be whatever you feel it to be. My first love, the one that sparked a lot of drama kind of like an HBO movie or soap opera, works at the one diner in my town that anyone really cares about. And from June 16th until now, I haven’t really craved a grilled cheese yet. I haven’t had my heart broken this summer, so I haven’t required one.
Seeing him evokes the feeling of my hair being super crunchy after driving with the windows down on 95, the itchiness of a day-old bug bite, and the uncomfortable sticky chill of a summer night all at once. Conveniently, I was experiencing all of these things physically when I saw his unwanted presence at his place of employment. I thought about how I had been feeling about him lately. Had I listened to Marina and the Diamonds recently? I think about his terrible driving skills whenever I impatiently pump my brake at a red light. But that doesn’t really count, because nobody else does that and it’s really muscle memory. As expected, he avoided me, and I was wondering if I was supposed to be sad about it. I wondered if he noticed that I blocked him on all social media. I wanted him to come over and ask if I wanted marinara sauce with my sandwich because he knows that’s what I get. And I wanted him to joke about the fake butter sauce on the popcorn.
But I also didn’t, really. I just wanted him to feel left out and stupid, like I had felt for the past one and a half years. Maybe I did that to myself, but I really think loves only end when you don’t see the person for a long time. Because I couldn’t get far enough away from him until I had to be; until we finished high school, and he moved, and he didn’t answer my text once and went canoeing with his girlfriend instead.
On the way home I put on the playlist I made November 15th when everything felt really heavy and important and every song I associated with him mattered. But there was something fake about the words of the song as I sang them. I wasn’t sad. I was just uncomfortable. My soul felt crunchy and like my driveway when I do a 32-point turn leaving my driveway: gravelly and punctured. I was trying to make a hole in myself with my own tires. And I know I was just testing myself, because I hadn’t revisited my first love in over a month. Doting on him felt grossly comfortable, like I was returning to a school year routine I had missed during the messy, unplanned summer. But I think being comfortable with abuse and misconduct is gross. My first love is gross and dumb and smells like fake butter when he gets home from work.
I think I am going to delete that playlist for a while and only listen to the Lumineers until I go to school.
And who are you to tell someone that their definition of love isn’t what they think it is? Love is relative. Love can exist in spaces and people that humanity refuses to acknowledge. I can love a shitty person and it is valid and real. I loved a shitty person and it was valid and real. I am so lucky that I get to leave him behind. I am so lucky that he is not my last (the fake butter thing would have gotten old).