February 20, 2005

An Affair to Remember

In an effort to maintain the mood or essense of love we created in our lives last week, I would like to open the comments section or to get linkbacks to the memories of our first loves. I'll post mine in an update later.

Over a week ago, Christina of Feisty Repartee challenged men to share how they express(ed) their love to the possesor of their affections. True to form, Eric, That1Guy, Mr. Helpful, and Acidman shared in their posts, how men can express love with depth and affection. They were truly inspiring and evoked memories of my first love. This made me wonder: What was it about their first true love that made them fall in love and whether their love was reciprocated or not. I also wondered how that love has impacted their love life in the present.

I call on my cyber friends and family to help inspire me to be hopeful about love again by kindling that little spark of love in all of us through the sharing of our stories.

I was spoiled by love at an age when most people are busy dealing with youthful crushes. Being the oldest daughter of a Pastor meant that dating was off the table until age 19. Being a dutiful daughter, and knowing it was a losing battle to notice boys, I focused instead on church, sports and studies. That was until I noticed my best friend's older brother. Bruce was 17, captain of the boy's volleyball team and assistant coach of the girls volleyball. After a year of knowing him, I began to appreciate his attentiveness and generosity.

My grandmother always said that if I ever liked a boy, to make sure I observed how he treated the women in his life, because that would give me an idea of how I would be treated. I've always lived by those words and when I didn't, I lived to regret it.

In his case though, not only was he a wonderful older brother to my best friend, he was an incredible son and friend to all. The more I got to know and observe him the more my friendship turned to admiration and then to great affection.

I first became aware of him for his deeds and not his looks (though he was the guy that every girl wanted to date in high school). We had slowly become best friends over the previous school year and our mutual affection grew from there.

I realized he liked me back a few days after I had broken my nose in a volleyball match. He had come to see me every day while I was recuperating from my injury. Because of my very strict parents, he made sure he got past their radar by making sure he brought over a few of my team mates each time. With the visits invariably came flowers, candy and my homework. It was the first time I knew what it felt to be cared for, loved, respected and adored by someone. I was truly humbled for his capacity to love me with all my imperfections and insecurities.

His character, integrity and honesty made me only love him more. It was a wonderful and healthy kind of love based on mutual affection and respect. The kind that grows with each passing day and would endure insurmountable obstacles over time. My dad did everything in his power for us not to see or be around each other. That meant that I was pulled off the team, since that still didn't break our interest and affection, he then transferred me to an all girls boarding school 2 hrs away from home. What my father failed to realize was that Bruce had his own car, which meant that he could visit me twice a month without fail. When my dad got wind of the visits, I was shipped to a convent school stateside.

We communicated via letters, phone calls and Bruce even managed to fly in twice to visit me during family weekends during that first semester. One day, over a long distance call he mentioned our future... as he saw it: marriage, a home, and kids. Suddenly I felt my cloistered, narrow life becoming even smaller before I even had a chance to live it. In truth it was not the life I saw for me or for us. My plans included living on my own while going to college and experiencing life as a young woman unencumbered by other's visions of what my life should be.

My vision included Bruce, but instead of marriage it was supposed to be dating like a normal couple of college kids. I knew what I wanted and where I was headed and I knew marriage would end all that. I tried negotiating all various types of alternative compromises, but unfortunately, he was serious and set on marriage, after all "he had already waited for me 2 years". No matter what alternative I proposed, if it didn't end in marriage within a year of graduation, it wasn't acceptable. That's when to my surprise, my parents joined forces with him. The joint ultimatum was: if I continued the relationship it would end in marriage within 6 months of graduation.

I was torn, but soon after realized that I would be miserable either way. I was also frustrated that the only thing that was preventing me from choosing my own fate was financial independence. My father had already taken it upon himself to decide my plan B: divinity school in the bible belt.

That's when heaven and lady luck both smiled my way and I was tapped on the shoulder for a modeling agency. Bruce was incredibly disappointed when he discovered I had done all of this, including getting my own apartment, on my own without discussing it with anyone. No one saw things from where I stood. I simply wanted the opportunity to follow my own dreams, but they just didn't fit in with everyone else's vision of what my life should be like.

It broke my heart when Bruce and I broke things off. but I knew, that had I accepted marriage as my fate, I would grow to resent him in the end. He was just too caring to deserve a resentful wife, he deserved someone that could give him the kind of commitment I couldn't. I never looked back until today.

The greatest lesson I learned from our relationship was how love can grow in spite of distance, time and separation. How two people who truly love each other completely, based on their heart (and not from any other part) are able to face anything more solidly united in that love. I am still very grateful for having experienced that kind of love. It taught me how to become a stronger person and to listen to my inner voice.

It was Bruce who nurtured that focused strength, independent spirit and inner voice that has enabled me to become who I am today. For that alone, I will have a special place in my heart for him always.

Posted by Michele at February 20, 2005 11:30 AM

It wasn't until I was in love with Julie that I realized what love is. The other times were just me being lonely or horny.

What I need most in a partner is Strength. Not physical, although being healty is a good thing. But I pushed Julie in a wheelchair quite a bit and it didn't detract from my love for her. My partner needs to be strong so that I can rely on her, so she will make good, wholesome, moral choices, and be able to stick with them. It's a little thing like saying she would be home at 6, then having the strength to tell her boss / partner / co-worker "no, I have to be home by 6".

After that comes Common Sense, Well Grounded, or Earthy. They all mean the same to me, which is that my partner is capable of dealing with life and all the crap it throws at you. I'm not talking about the tragedy stuff. I'm talking about the daily stuff. It's the "I'm stuck in traffic and gonna be late" stuff. I know people who freak out at that, I don't like it.

The final of the top three (which are really all equal) is Respect. Respect for Self, Respect for Others, Respect for All. Respect for Self is taking care of one's self, doing the things that need to be done like eating and sleeping, and not getting hooked on drugs or alchohol. I don't mind if someone else does it, but I can't have a partner who is an addict. And addiction is different than casual usage. That includes smoking, btw. Respect for Others is very subjective. It ties in with Strength. There is a balance. A person who deserves respect should get it. A person who is being a jerk shouldn't get it. Respect for All is not about people. It's about everything else in life that can and should be respected. But again, with a balance. My references here are respecting your pets, your house, car, clothes, etc. And other people's objects too. And collective things like The Environment and Society as well. I'm not an Environmentalist, nor an Activist. Sometimes I recycle, sometimes I don't. But I need a partner who is aware that when you borrow something, you take care of it. That's respect, even if you don't know the owner.

At this point, I think I've written quite a bit.
And I'm sure I'll get comments that I should put this on my blog. But I won't. This sharing is for you, Michele. Here, at this place. I hope it helps.

Today, in my life, one thing that helped me immensely was to spend a few days with truly wonderful people. It has restored my belief that there are good people out there. I'm amonst people right now that aren't so good. Our weekend together has re-energized my faith that I can have a life surrounded by good people. So I am going to go back to working on that.

Posted by: _Jon at February 20, 2005 01:59 PM

My first love was actually right after my divorce. I didn't love my husband, and it was mutual. Long bad story.

But I met a man when I moved to Florida. We had talked a few times, emailed and finally realized we were falling in love.

It started out as a physical attraction. He was the most beautiful man I had ever laid eyes on. And his smile, his smile made me melt. His voice - scottish accent that could soothe and excite at the same time. A gentleness of nature. His touch was caring - gentle yet firm. When he looked at you - he saw YOU. His wit...damn he was so funny. Yet so smart... taught me so very much. Even when we disagreed it was good. We respected each other, we learned from each other.

Our time together was magic. He was the first ever to tell me I was beautiful. The first time we kissed he told me he had never felt so loved.

But it moved so quickly. And suddenly it was over. Looking back - we were both in a healing period. We were both craving affection. We both needed to be needed.

He's since married and had a daughter. I hear he misses me. I miss him too....but our friendship is not to be. The attraction is too strong. The desire, even now, to much. No - it's a memory of what can be. It was an oasis in a storm. It was first love.

The impact that experience had is huge. I don't compare anyone to him, that's just wrong. And he wasn't perfect, I'm too much of a realist to believe that. But...it's set the standard. He was the first to show me that a relationship like my parents' was possible. It was the first time I realized that I can have it all. Everything I want, everything I desire. It's possible. It's probable. I'll wait.

Posted by: Tammi at February 20, 2005 02:18 PM

My first and only love is the man I married.

I didn't really understand what love was until he walked into my life and I immediatly recognized it for what it is.

His love has helped me to become the person I should have always been but wasn't given the chance to until he came along.

Posted by: Machelle at February 21, 2005 09:26 AM

Well written and so true, Michele.

I love that you have inspired so many to share their stories.

Posted by: Christina at February 21, 2005 05:24 PM

Michele, I'm going to get to you on this. I'm not quite in the state to be getting this serious. At least not without screwing things up. Watch for my post in a couple of days.

Drunk Guy out.

Posted by: That 1 Guy at February 21, 2005 10:44 PM

I'm going to have to work on this one. When I think about it, it seems like it'd be complicated to explain, but it feels like it should be so simple.

Give me some time.

Posted by: Harvey at February 22, 2005 11:27 AM

My first love... hrm.... That would have to be Sharon in my Freshman year at college. I fell in love with her pretty deeply, and I thought she felt the same way. Unfortunatly, she just stopped showing up for dates. We would make plans, and she wouldn't meet me, and then pretend we hadn't made a date or that I had gone to the wrong place. Now, back then I had an amazing amount of patience, so I just kept making dates with her. I'm sure there was a large amount of desperate love on my part in there too, not to mention stupidity. After the 10th broken date in a row, I just stopped asking her out. She never contacted me. I ran into her a couple of years later, and, being who I am, was very nice and friendly with her. Before leaving for her class, she gave me her email and told me that we should "get together again sometime." I'm still a very patient man, but not when it comes to that anymore. Still looking for another love to share my life.... Still hopeful, too, heh.

Posted by: MikeTheLibrarian at February 23, 2005 10:39 PM


Check the trackbacks.

Posted by: Harvey at February 24, 2005 01:34 AM