First love...I've been thinking about mine a lot recently, as she, I'll call her Jane, now lives in my neighborhood, is a mutual friend of friends, and well, we are both single and I thought it was a good idea to reconnect. I remember so clearly how we originally spoke back when I was 16 and she 18. She was walking away from Franklin Park, after a softball game, and I called her a dyke. Ugh. This memory that was repeated towards others in later years as I came to terms with my sexuality, still haunts me. After that at some point, she and I and our respective best mates started hanging out...mostly going to drive-in movies, getting totally wasted with each other. Most of these late summer nights would culminate in Jane calling me at 1am and us talking about everything under the sun until she literally passed out on the other end of the wire. I don't remember these conversations, mostly. I do remember the closeness, the intimacy, the desire for more knowledge for her that I had when we were done. I was not out then. Not even close. I did not see Jane as a girlfriend or a lover. God no. This was just friendship...a really good, close, friendship. I remember a weekend or a night that Jane and I spent at my parents' lake place. I remembered feeling like I could stay there with her forever...in retrospect, it was that sweetness of first love, hormones on fire, added with the uncertainty of it all, me, her, what we were doing. We hung out, drank beer, laid in the middle of the lake on the boat until we got so hot we'd dive in to cool off. I think we spent the night on the couch, head to foot, not sure what to do with the tension, so we did nothing with it. After that summer, Jane went to college...in the same town, but worlds away from me. I was devastated. My best mate and I would visit the school on weekends for party time...I'd try to get in touch with her to reconnect, but she had clearly moved on. I was still pretty clueless about girls hooking up with girls...college life seemed to be so much about girls and guys trolling for opportunities with each other, but perhaps I just wasn't looking. At some point I realized she had a girlfriend. I don't think I knew what that really meant, but what it meant to me was that she was not sharing those late, intimate, alcohol-induced conversations with me anymore. I became slightly obsessed...not in a weird way for her necessarily, but in a stunting way for me. I couldn't wrap my brain or my heart around the pain. I had no capacity for understanding it. And I had nobody to talk to about this special friendship that I couldn't get over.
The details are foggy, but sometime later, we reconnected. I remember two instances...one night, I found her somewhere at her college campus....she was drunk, I think. We went for a drive. I remember weird things...where we drove...feeling lost...her getting out of the car at some point because I was angry ... and then me coaxing her back in the car. I also remember a night, could have been the same night, where we were at my parents house watching M-TV and likely, drinking beer. I remember she thought Rod Stewart was sexy. At some point, we laid down together on the red shag carpet, and shared a pillow, this time, head-to-head, and held hands underneath.
I lost contact with Jane for a while after that, but I thought about her often. It took me another 6 years to finally explore my sexuality with a woman. I had a couple of boyfriends, but nobody I was interested enough to have sex with. I had my first relationship with a woman when I was 23, 7 years after I first met Jane, and i still thought about her. At some point during that relationship, I got in touch with Jane. It was awkward, weird. I asked her if she was gay, to which she responded yes. I eagerly told her I was too...as if I had just figured this out. Which I had. The conversation was brief and I felt like an ass afterwards. I moved on, but never completely got over Jane.
Years later, I moved to the biggest nearby city. As it turned out, Jane lived there too with her partner. We were mixed together one night at a birthday party that was shared by me and a friend of Jane's partner. She was in my apartment hanging out with her girlfriend. I was happy to see her, but I was still trying to make sense of her and what had transpired between us years ago. I was cautious, but interested. I managed to get out of her that night that the feelings were mutual back then. Somehow, I felt vindicated. And I was newly interested in someone, so I moved on.
Fast forward 8 years...
I was working for a large company, literally thousands of employees and hundreds of buildings. One day I was heading out for lunch and there she was, sitting at the reception area of my building. I hesitated, not certain it was her, and then approached her. Do we know each other? I said. Turned out we did. We had lunch. She was recently separated from her partner of 12 years, had two kids, was kind of a mess, but doing ok. I was in a relatioship that I had questioned from the beginning. I was awkward...didn't know how to just be normal with her. We said we'd get together again. I thought I would when I felt stable enough with my partner to allow Jane back into my life. I attempted a year or so later to go to lunch with her. I cancelled. I couldn't do it. I couldn't let her back in, because I knew I would want to love her again.
Years later, my first girlfriend, J, starts dating a woman, L, back in my hometown. Over time we determine that L was girlfriends with Jane in college and they are still good friends today. Through them, I find out that Jane had moved to my neighborhood, literally 5 blocks away. This was about 18 months ago. I remember fearing that I would run into her at the grocery store or at some local haunt. I was panicked over a potential sighting. J and L suggested I get in touch with her and be friends. I thought about it, and I panicked. I couldn't do it if I valued my still tentative relationship, which had also produced two children. A year plus later, my relatioship is ending, but far from over. I am far from being in a state where I am ready to date. I do, however, want to reconnect with my old friend Jane, now that I have nothing to lose by doing so.
I feel safe in doing so.