If you arrived at your front door and saw your first love standing there, what would you do or say?
I'd be surprised if I recognized him. The last time I saw him, I was 7 and he was 9.
It was a sweet little summer puppy love. My family went to a bungalow colony in the Catskills every summer, one owned by friends of my grandparents. We would go for two weeks and have wonderful outdoor time in the fresh mountain air. I think it's the campfire that everyone would sit around for hours every night that set me on the path to my intense love of fire circles now.
Anyway, that summer there was a new family there for the first week of our stay, and they had two little boys, ages 7 and 9. The older son and I were "boyfriend and girlfriend" within two hours of my arrival; I can still so clearly remember my family unloading the car and greeting our friends when I looked up and saw this little blond boy standing by another cabin and staring at me. He came up to introduce himself after we were unpacked and I'd gone outside to walk around, and we stood out there for who-knows-how-long, talking and talking, even when it started to rain on us. To the extent that I believe in love at first sight-- of which I am somewhat skeptical in my pragmatic old age-- I believe it happened then.
We were inseparable for that week. We'd go for long walks to explore "dangerous" places in the woods, or down along the quiet road, where he'd pick me huge bouquets of wild tiger lilies (insisting as he did that "it's the man's job to pick flowers for the lady" if I tried to help); every morning my mother would open the cabin's front door and find him with his face pressed up against the screen, looking for me. He got jealous one day when I played too long with his younger brother, until I exasperatedly explained to him, "I LIKE Sam but I LOVE you!"
When his family left, we cried. He gave me my first kiss...an innocent little peck on the lips, shyly ventured on one of our walks. I remember that year I had a wholly unreasonable terror of quicksand, which I had never encountered yet was deathly afraid existed in the woods we explored. He coaxed me on to keep exploring and having adventures, solemnly promising that if I should fall into quicksand, he would risk his life to save me. That made me feel safe enough to venture on. In retrospect, I think it was sweet that he took my weird fears seriously and didn't laugh at me.
I only talked to him once after that week, four years later. We promised to write and call each other but of course we never did.
I'm sort of torn on the notion of seeing him now that we're adults. On the one hand, I kind of think it's better to preserve that perfect little memory as it is, a lovely fairy tale that's part of my personal mythology. I kind of wouldn't want that muddied by seeing who we've become and finding out all kinds of mundane things about each other. On the other hand, I've always been curious how he turned out, what he's like, if he remembers that summer as fondly as I do. And I'd enjoy having the chance to thank him for casting the mold of my preferences and expectations in romance...that tone was set very early, and is one of the key reasons why I've always expected to date sweet, gentle, emotionally expressive men with a sense of valor who treated me like a queen. He deserves to be thanked for teaching me at such an early age that genuinely *good* men are totally hot. =)
I admit I've Googled his name from time to time, but it's just common enough that I've never found anyone I could be certain was him. So I guess if he showed up on my doorstep, once I got over the shock, I'd laugh and say, "Well, clearly the Universe decided it was time for our paths to cross again. Come on in, we've got a lot of catching up to do."