Do you remember your first love?

[Names have been changed to protect the innocent! As well as the guilty...]

Do you remember your first love?

I do.

I don't remember the exact age I was when I started having feelings for him in "that way," but I must have been about eleven. His name was Rafael Perez. He lived on the block behind mine, in the neighborhood I moved into when I was eight. He went to the same Catholic private school I went to, Immaculate Conception Elementary. He was in a grade above mine. He had brown hair, crinkly brown eyes. I remember his voice sounded like sandpaper would, if sandpaper had a voice. It was that rough and scratchy on the ears.

I used to love his voice. I remember I would call just to hear his barely baritone "Hello?" then I would hang up, stifling my breathless giggles. (Ah, those halcyon days before Caller ID...)

Raphael, or Ralphy, as he liked to be called, was rough around the edges himself, too. A rebel without a cause with braces and a light spattering of freckles across his nose that mesmerized me. He was on the baseball team and always had at least a dozen girls chasing him. He used to change girlfriends like he changed shirts. One for another, without a thought for anything except his own convenience.

Despite this, I still dreamed I had a chance with him. I remember the pattern to my sleepless nights. I used to switch on my Walkman and play "World in My Eyes" by Depeche Mode with my eyes closed, imagining the perfect scenario: me confessing my feelings to Ralphy, he of course reciprocating.

I invented different versions of our first kiss before it even happened. How he would duck his head carefully, tenderly. How he would cup my face in his hands. I wondered if he would close his eyes. If I would close my eyes.

I prayed and prayed for it to happen. Most of the time though he acted as though I was his annoying little sister. He'd ruffle my hair and I'd secretly thrill at the touch, then bristle when he'd playfully insult me or challenge me to an arm wrestling match. The only time he gave me hope that he might reciprocate my feelings was one summer, the summer that the song "Unchained Melody" had its great resurgence. I don't remember the year -- it must have been the early to mid-1990's.

One sultry summer afternoon, perhaps in July, perhaps in August, I heard a sandpapery voice outside my bedroom window. I looked outside and saw Ralphy riding his bicycle in the middle of the street in front of my house. He was alone, and he was singing "Unchained Melody" at the top of his lungs.

Oh, my love
my darling
I've hungered for your touch
a long lonely time
and time goes by so slowly
and time can do so much
are you still mine ... ?


I still get butterflies, remembering that afternoon. How his voice resembled more a cat being skinned alive than the Righteous Brothers. How fast my pulse raced, threatening to jump clean out of my veins.

"It doesn't mean anything," I told my mom, voice shaky, when she came into my room to laugh with me at his antics. "Oh, it means something," she replied, smiling.

Unfortunately for my eleven-year-old self, nothing ever happened. Ralphy was not fated to be my first kiss. Despite the fact that we wound up going to the same Catholic private high school, too, we moved in different social circles. I joined the Drama Club and the Debate Club. I got good grades. He didn't. He hung out with the bad kids and got a girl pregnant right after he graduated, marrying young.

My family moved out of that neighborhood my senior year of high school. By that time, I had developed other crushes, and even had my first kiss. I graduated from high school and went to college and there I met my first serious boyfriend, the only serious boyfriend I've ever had. Yes, the boyf.

Nine years of happily committed bliss later, and I realize now that the feelings I had for Ralphy all those sticky-sweet summers ago were as evanescent as the morning dew. Fleeting as rain in August and sugar-sweet as cotton candy, but ultimately insubstantial. What I knew about love back then could have fit inside of the eye of a needle.

But the memory of that sultry summer afternoon is still clear today as a newly developed photograph even after all these years.

Oh, my love
my darling ...

I still remember my first love.


~


[Here is the poem I wrote today that inspired this post.]




Of a boy and a girl
How do I tell the story
Of a boy and a girl falling in love
Without describing the scent of rain:
Its pungent, dog-heavy smell
Making her nose crinkle,
Making him laugh at her.
Their steps both impulsive and hesitant
On this long walk home from school.


Unraveling the mysteries of You and Me:
The separate selves
The secret selves.
Hiding behind a smile transparent as clouds
Her eyes watch his watching hers
And she notices for the first time glints of gold
Stark against the black of his irises
Before she ducks her head,
Overpowered by a sudden shyness
That paralyzes as much as it thrills.


What is it about first love that makes one feel
God-like
Omnipotent
As if you have not only discovered Love for the first time
But have, in fact, created it.
Molding his firm chin out of the suppliant clay
Her hands whisper-light on his face
Shaping the cupid's bow of her mouth
His mouth heavy as a painter's brush.

**********************************************

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19 comment(s):

alicia en el pais said...

Oh is a really very tender post, that beautiful recollections
And the poem is very beautiful

robynxx said...

Now, I was going to comment on Protag (on the poem), but after seeing your twitter status, I came here ^^.

Anyhoo, amazing poem. Simple, but a very accurate depiction of the feeling. Awesome imagery, as always. Excellent work, I must say!

Cheers!

P.S. I love the story too (hence the comment on Protag this time. Lawl.)

April A.K.A. Elsha said...

beautiful! I love the metaphors for first love!

This was a sweet memory. :)

Ang (Amcas) said...

Aww!

How sweet. I remember my first love...we met in 5th grade and parted Senior year.

Ana Cristina said...

Thanks, guys! :)
@Ang: Aw, sorry to hear you parted. That's a long time, though! Wow.

Malia said...

ana I just found your personal blog! wow, i'm so out of it lately with finals

Ana Cristina said...

Hang in there, Malia! Best of luck! :-D

jennie said...

Hey,
I love that poem!!!! You are an amazing poet. I used to play around with poetry a little but it was never really my medium...prose suits me better and as you can see I'm getting more into opinion writing. However your poetry kicks ass! :-)

Ana Cristina said...

Thanks, Jennie!

Courtney said...

I love this post! I definetely remember my first love! We are actually still friends... to this very day! I would love for you to make me a button! Thanks for offering! Just something pink and green to match my blog, and since the blog name is in French, I was thinking maybe an Eiffel Tower or something. LOL Use your imagination! I know you will come up with absolute cuteness! :)

Courtney said...

oh wait... OMG I just noticed you already made me a button! And it is waaaaay cuter than what I had in mind!!! I LOVE IT! You are just awesome girl!! :)

Courtney said...

I will check my email now... I was trying to figure that one out! LOL Thanks again girly! :)

Nancy Face said...

I enjoyed reading this so very much! I was boy crazy from 5th grade on, and had so many crushes I can't remember which one came first!

Nancy Face said...

I had a HUGE crush on a certain boy in 7th grade. His name was Scott. We were good friends, but that was all. In 9th grade he died from a tragic accident. He was at the lake with his older brother when he fell and hit his head on a rock and was knocked unconscious. He slipped under the water and drowned before his brother knew what had happened. It was such a shock and very heartbreaking to the many students who knew and loved him. I'll never forget him!

Ana Cristina said...

Oh that's so sad, Nancy! :( I'm sorry to hear that happened to your friend. That makes me realize how important it is to appreciate life while we're living it -- you never know when it will be taken from us...

Tasha... said...

Okay..I missed this post somehow.

I'm distracted lately. Anywhooo, this is so cute! Now you make me want to reminisce...my 1st love-ish-butterflies-in-the-tummy thing was 6th grade. I can't remember his real name, but I do recall everyone, including myself, call him "Beeper." No. I'm not kidding.

P.S. Your poem makes my heart warm.

=]

T. L. C. said...

First young love...Sigh...I def. remember mine :D

This was fun to read. I love hearing stories about others love life.

I might have to do this down the road...

Indyeah said...

oh yes!!I do remember this story:)))
remember when I was facing massive probs in posting comments or even getting your page to open?:))
this was the post I wanted to comment on:)))


my first love?
*sigh*
wayyy back when I was 13 and in looovvee :D:D
and I still remember our song:)))))
He is happily married now:))
but there's special buddy /pal/happy connection that we still have;))
we still grin idiotically when we meet..:))

Indyeah said...

oh yes!!I do remember this story:)))
remember when I was facing massive probs in posting comments or even getting your page to open?:))
this was the post I wanted to comment on:)))


my first love?
*sigh*
wayyy back when I was 13 and in looovvee :D:D
and I still remember our song:)))))
He is happily married now:))
but there's special buddy /pal/happy connection that we still have;))
we still grin idiotically when we meet..:))