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My First Real Love

Let me start off by saying that she wasn't the first woman I said that I loved. She was the second, but I didn't realize until much later that I didn't really love the first - I just thought I did.

I lived in North Carolina. I was 17 at the time, and I had been crushed by the first - we'll call her "R" - I'm not sure what R got out of our brief relationship, as we weren't truly emotionally connected, and we hadn't even so much as kissed. I then moved with my father to a different town in North Carolina, four hours away. The new school was enormous, and I was already half-way through my senior year, so I made very few friends. I spent lots of time on the internet, looking for ways to kill time. I met her as an opponent in a game of connect four, of all things. Her name started with a T, and she was from Texas... 15, and very talkative. We talked for the whole length of the game, and when it was over we had a rematch. Then another. Then another. More and more, just so that we could keep talking to one another. We started that night as randomly selected opponents for a ten minute game, and ended up talking for six straight hours. We made plans to play against each other again the following night.

Several days went by and I found out more about her. 5'1", a dancer... her personality was sweet but fiery, and I never struggled to find the next thing to say to her. I was enjoying spending the whole night playing this silly java version of connect 4 against her for hours and hours, losing any hope of sleeping before the start of the next day because we just couldn't stop talking to one another. I asked her for her MSN messenger username, and we never played that awful connect 4 game again.

It took a month, or was it two? I'd been thinking it for weeks, struggling to keep myself from telling her... but here it was. I couldn't hold it in any longer. I typed slowly, deliberately... my hands were shaking and I felt like what I was doing was crazy. I had never even heard her voice! "I have something to tell you, T. I think... I know... I love you."

Silence. A second felt like a day. Five. Ten. Thirty. A minute. Five. Why wouldn't she say anything? Then it appeared on my screen, "I love you too!" She explained the silence... she'd been so stunned that she couldn't believe she read it correctly. She read it over and over, and then cried tears of joy.

8 months into our relationship, we'd used voice chat sporadically, but only when her parents weren't home, which was rare. I was 18 then. I had a job at a national book-store chain, but lacked the motivation to go to college. I checked my company's website daily for an opening in her part of Texas. It would be hard, I knew, but I was determined to be with her. I'd live with roommates, I'd have a car that was falling apart, I'd eat ramen breakfast lunch and dinner, I didn't care. I had to be with her. No openings came up, and I grew impatient. I came up with a plan. I would join the military and request orders to a base near her. I knew the orders weren't guaranteed, but even if I didn't get them, we wouldn't be in any worse position than we already were... and at least then I'd have the money to fly to Texas and see her occasionally.

I went to boot camp, too out of shape to immediately start training. The three month process took five. I wrote her daily, and she wrote back when she could get a letter to the drop box unnoticed. They arrived twice a week, with lipstick kisses at the bottom of the page. I kissed them. The other men mocked me, but I didn't care. I had someone, they didn't.

15 months together and we finally got the opportunity. I was in Marine Corps electronics school in California. One of my courses had ended, and the next wouldn't begin for a week. I took a bus to Los Angeles, and a flight to Dallas. Delta. It was cramped and the air wasn't blowing cool enough, but I didn't care. This was the moment. I was going to see her, I was going to be with T. I was 19, she was 16. She made excuses to get out of the house every night. Her parents were divorced, and she had a stepsister. She said she was staying at the stepsister's biological mom's house with her - the stepsister was in on the plan - but she went to see me instead.

We were each other's first kiss. We shared hours and hours wrapped in each other's arms, some awkward fumbling in the dark, but no sex. She showed me her favorite parts of Fort Worth. They were forgettable. She wasn't. The week was up. We spent one last night together, wrapped in each other's arms on a park bench in front of a small lake. 3AM came and went. We cried like the world was ending, knowing I had to get in a cab at 4 to make it to the airport on time. I flew back to Los Angeles. Delta again. The air worked, the plane was mostly empty and the movie was good, but that was the most miserable flight of my life. A bus back to base, and back to reality.

T's mother found out about us shortly after my visit ended, and forced her to be rid of me. She didn't explain why, she couldn't get away with telling me the real reason. I thought it was my fault. I must have come on too strong, or not come on strongly enough. One way or another, I disappointed her, I thought. Months went by, long and lonely. If only I'd known.

I found someone new, her name began with C. She was an acquaintance from my home town, and I had orders for a nearby base in North Carolina in a little over a month. She was engaged, but not happy. I stole her away from him because I couldn't be alone anymore. It was selfish, and I despised myself for it. I loved her, but never as much as I loved T. Never anywhere close. I married her. It was three and a half years after my visit with T that I found out C had cheated on me while I was deployed. I got a divorce. I talked to T once, for two hours. We caught up on the changes in each other's lives, but she had a man in her life. We didn't talk again.

R reappeared, offering to be my support when I needed someone to help me deal with the pain. She took advantage of my loneliness to get close to me, to be more than just the friend she promised to be. I married her, trying to replace the marriage I'd just lost. I got out of the Marine Corps and started a high paying career in Virginia. We had a baby. I bought a house. Strangely enough, it was three years again since that last time I'd talked to T that I found out R had cheated on me. A craigslist ad while I was at work. That was a month ago.

I found T on facebook two weeks ago. We've spent a few of those nights talking to one another, mostly about events in our lives, or meaningless small talk. I'm 25 now, and she's 22. She lives with her boyfriend, a different one from last time. He's a Marine with a daughter from a previous marriage. An odd choice for a woman who had never considered a military man before me.

Last night she sent me a text. Meaningless drivel again. It was 10:30PM. We talked again about my exes, C and R. There's a woman who won't be clear about exactly what it is that she wants with me, her name is J and we talked about her too. Then T mentioned the old times... that ONE old time, when I visited her in Texas. The memories came flooding back. They were never forgotten, but they haven't been this vivid for a long time. Laying on a bed with her, looking into her eyes, with her long hair all around her. She was happy, truly happy, and I was the only reason. I was there again. I was 19, and she was 16, and I could feel her in my arms. I told her that I was remembering the way we were. I was going to leave it at that, but she insisted that I be detailed. I nearly cried as I told her. She did cry.

It was 5AM. "Those memories were good, but it's not fair for me to drown in the feelings of joy and love, happiness and passion when I have happiness and undying love right next to me" she said. "It's late, and I've got to get up in a couple hours for work. You can text me throughout the day, though."

A cop-out. An escape from an uncomfortable emotion... uncomfortable because it was good, and it shouldn't be.

I don't know what's going on, but I know that I loved T more than I ever loved C or R. I know that I could love her again, and she could love me too... but we can't. Life is in the way.
StillRadioactive StillRadioactive 22-25, M 2 Responses Dec 31, 2012

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I had forgotten all of this before. Funny how life is turning out. I read this in the car on my way home from work and laugh at the irony that I found this solely by chance when looking up the tattoo idea you had told me about. Well have to see where life leads but we'll always have the memories and the knowledge that we are both blessed for the emotions we share from that time. Everytime I talk to you I'm 16 again. Smiling uncontrollably under my bed covers and sneaking letters to you in book camp against my mothers wishes. Though were both grown up and have both had our fair share of life experiances, you and I are both still 16 and 19, nervous, excited and crazy about one another. I am beyond blessed you came back into my life when you did. Can't wait to see what the next chapter brings us.
T- out.

This story saddens my heart.. to be 19 and courageous like that is something, you knew what you wanted and you took the risks. You have all my respect and wonderful wishes.