Do you believe that first love never ever dies?
Remember that mind-blowing, heart-bursting feeling of a young love? Sounds pathetic now that we're already adults, right? But admit it or not, we all have been through that stage. And believe it or not, there are some who are still not over it. Who were not able to move on. Especially for those who let their true love just slip away. They still pine for the one that got away. The one they had stupidly let go...
If you're up for some reminiscing or reliving that feeling...Check out this short love story from HeBlogs-SheBlogs! My Goddess
HBSB website is temporarily unavailable so re-posting that story here. Here goes...
It has been a tradition among my grade school friends to get together at least once a year. I haven’t attended the past several years so it was in great anticipation that I walked to my friend’s house that year. They were already deep in merriment when I arrived at the party. As soon as I peeked through the gate, I immediately spotted her, even before the host could let me in. I made my way to the circle and greeted them one by one. And when I was faced with her, I didn’t know why but with an impish smile I shook her hand and breathed an almost inaudible “Good evening.” The handshake and formal greeting gave me away. I know I looked stupid. This was neither the occasion nor the company for a handshake. A warm and tight hug would be more appropriate. We all grew up together for goodness sake!
She accepted my hand with a smug knowing smile. She always knew me…what was inside my heart, my mind. Although at that very moment I didn’t really know what I was thinking or how I was feeling, it felt as if she knew.
No other words were exchanged. She didn’t say anything at all.
“Two old friends…meet again…wearing older faces…” Our mischievous friend Roma started singing. At that, we both smiled knowingly. Well, hers was a knowing and at the same time, mocking smile. She stood from her chair and punched some number code on the videoke machine and “Superman” began to play. She handed me the microphone and without a word, I took it and obediently sang, “I can’t stand to fly…”
The boys, or I must say “men”, clapped me on the back.
I tried to concentrate on the song. And although I knew it by heart, I kept my eyes on the TV monitor because I was afraid to look elsewhere and accidentally catch her eyes. I didn’t know if she was watching me, but I felt a tingling in my spine just thinking that she might be.
She had…okay, still has that effect on me. Her gaze, her smile, her mere presence…God, the mere mention of her name! …makes me shiver. Needless to say, her voice, especially if directed at me, shakes me like an earthquake. After all those years, she still has that effect on me.
She took the mic from me when I finished the song. Another set of numbers were punched. Turning to me and looking straight into my eyes, she meaningfully said, “And this is my response to that.” An unfamiliar song began playing.
“I took a walk around the world to ease my troubled mind….”
“Kryptonite” was the title of the song, I think. It was the first time I heard her sing and she rocked! I didn’t quite understand the lyrics, but I sure felt the accusation in her tone. The words were not registering in my mind but the emotion sharply cut into my heart. I watched and listened intently. I was entranced, mesmerized. My eyeballs were stuck on her and suddenly, I was the little lovesick boy again.
I still remember the first time I saw her. It was in the first grade. A shy, quiet girl. To me then, there was nothing cuter than those pigtails, pony tail, and whatever kind of tails that she pulled her hair into. Nothing brighter than her big intelligent eyes. The eyes of a little goddess that could command me to do her bidding any time, any day. It felt that there was nothing in this world that I wouldn’t do for her. To protect her…to love her…to be loved by her…or to simply be near her. I would go to school very early so I could have more time to see her. And even during the year we were not classmates and were on different schedules, I would still arrive early so I could catch even just a glimpse of her as her class was dismissed. Every boy who did her wrong or teased her too much would be punished in one way or another by me. She didn’t know and neither did the boy know what he was being punished for. I just tried to avenge her in any way I can.
From a distance, I watched her grow in beauty. As days and years went by, my young boy’s heart was filled with her and her alone. I had each of her feature, gesture, habit and mannerism, etched in my mind. The way she runs around in childhood play, the way her eyebrows knit together in irritation. Especially the way her eyes glare when she gets really angry. I knew then that that little goddess would haunt me forever.
The little goddess had grown into a woman and she was still every bit of a goddess to me. Her voice, still deep and authoritative. Her mere presence commands obedience. Her now pixie hair was something new to her and it added more boldness in her already daring character. Her slender shoulders, bared in the tube dress she was wearing, were deliciously alluring. Her long legs, parted underneath her flowered skirt in a rock star stance, were definitely tempting. Her coyishly sexy dress didn’t quite fit the rock song she was belting out, but that’s what she really is. A paradox of nature. And as she was standing there singing that song to me, she mesmerized me again as she did a long time ago.
I snapped back to reality when our friends started jeering me at the end of her song.
“Go, Dravin! Go!”
“Dravin, what can you say to that?”
“Any retaliate song?”
I couldn’t answer. All I could do was smile for I was still reeling from the trance.
We, the boys, walked the girls home that night. I walked beside her with another friend. The others, who were walking ahead of us, were looking back at us and teasing us. We just ignored them. We talked about childhood memories together, about other classmates who weren’t there with us that night. There was no mention of anything too personal. Just about grade school experiences in general.
Oh, how I missed her. I missed talking to her. Just listening to her made my heart swell to a point of bursting.
Finally, we reached her house and casually said goodnight. As I walked home alone, I began to think…ask myself, “Why did I ever let her go???” She was not “the one that got away”. She was “The One” and I stupidly left her behind, hanging. Stupid…what? Pride? Principle? Values? I don’t know. It was just plain stupidity. I was stupid! Stupid! Stupid! If only I didn’t let it, whatever it was, get the best of me, I wouldn’t be walking home now to a wife, whom I am not even sure if I really love. I wouldn’t be so sad, devastated, guilty, and needless to say, regretful.
Lying on the matrimonial bed, I thought about her. About the recent rendezvous. I wished to see her again. I was sure we would. I didn’t know when but for sure when we do, it would be at another friends’ get together. And for sure, there would be our other male friends again who would also be looking longingly at her just as I would. I know that most of our male friends, classmates, had a thing for her. Even my own cousin, who was also in our class/batch. It didn’t escape my watchful police eyes that he was also transported back to the old days while he was watching her that night. And I saw that he was still in love with her. Fortunately for me, he was also married like me. So he was no competition. Haha! What competition was I talking about? There was…there is no competition. She was a goddess, for goodness sake! And we were just mere mortals. We didn’t stand a chance. Well, I did. I just turned my back on it. Breathing out a deep and hopeless sigh, I tried to sleep.
The next time I saw her was at a friend’s wake. The same group of friends, who witnessed us grow closer and fall apart.
After paying our respects and crying a bit (well, the girls did), the group started the usual bantering. Roma, the rumors and intrigue queen, went picking on me again.
“Okay. We are gathered here tonight for our dear departed friend. And I’m sure, he would really like to know, being an avid fan of your love team, whatever happened to you two?”
“Huh? What do you mean?” was my innocent response.
“Well, didn’t you have a thing for Livinia before?”
My play-safe answer was, “Well, all of the boys in our class, even in other classes, had a thing for her. Why don’t you ask Adrian here?” I pointed to my cousin beside me in the hope to divert the attention from me
Roma turned to him, “Well?”
“As he said, all of the boys had so I guess that includes me.” He was also being smart. I knew that he had more than a crush.
I didn’t expect to get off the hook that easy so I wasn’t surprised when Roma turned to me again.
“Going back to you….once and for all settle the question that has been bugging us all. Did you and Livinia ever become an item? Were you ever together, at all?”
Livinia and I both answered the question at the same time.
The yes was mine. The no was hers.
I asked her, “Didn’t we?”
“No, we did not…because you rejected me, remember?”
Finally, the accusation was loud and clear. And direct.
She explained to our eager friends how I suddenly and without explanation stopped courting her soon after she confessed to me that she also loves me. I knew that it wasn’t the first time they heard the story but still they looked aghast at the mystery of it. Why, oh why would I give up the girl I adored, I worshipped since I was a kid? I loved her for what? 17 years? Since the 1st up to the 6th grade that we went to class together. Continued until high school even if we were not classmates anymore and I seldom saw her. And even during college when we never saw and never even heard news about each other at all. I would draw images or faces that looked like her. I carved her name in my guitar. I would always scrawl her name on papers whenever I was idle. Until we both graduated and started working already, I still loved her. In those 9 years of her absence in my life, she never left my heart. There was no other girl. Even until now, I still love her.
So why? Why did I leave her after barely a year of courtship? Why leave her then, especially after she told me that she already fell in love with me, too?
“Why did you stop?”
“She knows why.”
“No, I don’t.”
“I already told you.”
“No, you did not.”
“Okay, let’s pretend you did. But I’m saying now that I forgot, so tell me again.”
I addressed the audience, “It was because I am intimidated by her. She’s so intelligent. She knows a lot of things that I don’t. Sometimes, she talks about things that I have no inkling about.”
“But you know Livinia. She’s flexible. She can level with anybody.”
“But I don’t want her to go down my level. I’m the man. I should be the one carrying the relationship.”
“That’s it? That’s your reason? That’s so shallow!” Roma insisted.
“Well, there’s one other thing.’
“What is it?” Livinia asked with an eyebrow arched.
“I’ll tell you another time. It’s not for everybody to hear.” I whispered to her.
“Yeah, right. Like we will have another time like this again.” Looked like she badly needed to know the answer. And it was only understandable. I left her hanging.
“I will come to Manila and spend time with you before I leave the country. If you will allow it, that is.”
She looked doubtful but resigned. “Whatever.”
I meant what I said. I really wanted to see her, be with her before I fly to a dangerous land. Who knows, I might die there and I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye to her and letting her know my true feelings.
I arrived too early for our date. Sitting nervously on a bench in that strange city, I waited for her. Then I spotted her from a distance. I took in every step and gait she made, every turn of her head, every sway of her arms. I watched the wind blow her now longer wavy hair. I have always loved her hair. It was a natural dark brown, which becomes lighter with the glint of the sun or light.
She didn’t see me so she went straight inside the bookstore, which was our agreed meeting place. I waved at her through the glass wall and she started to walk towards me. Smiling her signature sweet smile, baring a perfect set of pearly whites.
We had dinner at the Old Spaghetti House. It felt like I was having my last supper, especially when after we ate she showed me the record of all the poems she wrote for me during our courtship and after I left her. She recited and recorded them over a powerpoint presentation. It was kind of cruel of her to remind me of my mistake. Of my great loss. But I guess it was her way of telling me how hurt she was when I left her. So I guess I deserved it. Actually, I deserved worse. Every word, every line she composed hit me like a splash of icy water. It was all true. I had hurt her. I never thought it possible but I did, make my goddess bleed and cry. I was an idiot.
After hearing those heartfelt poems, I could not bring myself to tell her my shallow reason for turning my back on her. But I had to. That was what I came there for. And when she asked, I couldn’t avoid it anymore.
“So…what was it?”
“First, I’d like to say sorry. You don’t know how sorry I am. I was wrong to think that way. I was young and stupid. Too idealistic for my own good. “
She just looked at me and listened.
“I thought virtue was everything. You know very well I worshipped you like a goddess.” She just nodded.
“You could say that the pedestal, the altar, I put you on shattered when you told me you were no longer a virgin. That is why I was so angry with that ex-boyfriend of yours.”
“What? But you told me then that it didn’t matter. You even said that it was nothing compared to you, who already had 5 women.”
“That was a lie. I just said that so you wouldn’t be embarrassed. I was virgin then. “
“What, what, what?”
“See? I know it’s shallow. More than shallow, it was a stupid reason. I’m sorry. I know better now. Virginity isn’t important and I learned that the hard way. Now, I’m tied in an empty marriage.”
“Well, I never thought.” Then she laughed. It was laugh that says, “Yeah, it was a stupid reason and I’m glad I’m not married to a narrow-minded prick like you.”
Then she added, “Is that why you did nothing else but kiss me endlessly that one summer night we spent together? Is that why you didn’t go lower than my neck?”
I remember that night. It was the night that I felt she also loved me. The night that I told her that I would continue loving her even if she didn’t become my wife. What a stupid thing to say!
The plan for an overnight swimming with our friends failed. She didn’t tell me that they had backed out. So I was shocked to see her at the meeting place, alone. She came without our friends so we ended up spending the night alone in our barracks. We laid face down the futon on the floor, talking until the wee hours of the morning. I placed my right hand on her back.
“Is it heavy?”
I lifted my hand but she hurriedly added, “But it’s okay.”
I put it back and slowly turned her over so I could hold her. Her back to me, my lips slightly touching her neck. Her hair smelled minty cool. She rolled over and faced me.
“Your embrace feels nice,” she said.
We were so close, face to face, nose to nose. But still I couldn’t bring myself to kiss her. It took forever to summon the courage. After what seemed like eternity, I kissed her lips and she responded with delicate urgency. It was a long lingering kiss.
“Wow…you’re a good kisser.” It was not the right thing to say, I know but it was all I could think of and she really was. But then again, what do I know? I was a virgin then. All I know was that it felt really good. Her tongue felt deliciously warm inside my mouth.
So going back to her question, I answered, “Yes, partly.”
“Damn! I could have been your first,” she winked. Clearly, she was done lamenting over our could-have-beens.
I was not. It could have completed the circle of firsts. My first crush, first love, first kiss and first you-know-what. More than being a virgin, it was embarrassing to admit that at 24, she was my first real kiss…but I cherish it.
After dinner, we bought tickets for a movie but before we went to see it, we sang a few songs at one of those tiny videoke booths at the video game station. As usual, she rocked! The rock songs she sang all had relevance to how I felt about her. They stung but I relished the pain.
All the while I was thinking of how exciting my life could be if it was her I married instead of the boringly simple wife I now have. The movie we watched was something my wife wouldn’t be interested to see. And the things Livinia and I talked about were things my wife would surely yawn at. She couldn’t hold an intelligent conversation. All she could talk about were telenovelas and neighborhood rumors. But what can I expect from a 22-year old high school graduate? I married a child. She was only 18 when I got her pregnant.
Regrets…regrets. How can I be feeling such deep awful regret when I already have two children! Argh!!!! I was really stupid!
As if the recorded poems and rock songs, which for her were love songs, were not enough to torture me, the band played the song “Lips of an Angel” right after we got seated at a bar we went to after the movie. She looked at me and smiled. I asked her to dance but she refused.
Oh God, how my arms ached to hold her. She was so near and yet I couldn’t touch her. It was already past midnight and I wanted to take her some place where we could be alone but I didn’t have the courage to ask her. I wasn’t worthy. I had no right to ask her anything. I dumped her, for crying out loud! Too fucking stupid! I couldn’t say it enough.
We walked to her office. She said she wanted to show me where she worked. It was like we were catching up on things, lost times, and saying goodbye at the same time. We walked and walked around the block. Stopped at a 24-hour convenient store for midnight snack. Talked some more. I don’t’ really remember the things we talked about. They didn’t matter, as long as I was with her and hearing her voice.
Until at last, there was nothing else to do but say goodbye. She hailed a cab, gave me a quick peck on the cheek and before I knew it, was gone.
I stood on the sidewalk stunned, unable to move or even think. My goddess was gone…. Away from me… forever.