Do You Ever Forget Your First Love?
I spent a couple of years writing love stories for the Houston Chronicle Sunday edition and a lot of them were about reunited first loves. There is something so powerful about a young first love experience that it seems people never quite completely shake it off. Is it because it happens when our hearts are still innocent and pure – before that first inevitable heartbreak? Many go searching to recapture that lost love.
Well, my story of first love does not quite follow that pattern, and we did not end up together. Still it is a memory that stays with me in the most healthy and positive way. In many ways, the confidence I gained from this experience starting at age 15 until about 18, gave me the momentum to overcome the many hurdles in my life and become the success I am today.
I was a romanticist living in a truly hopeless and dreary situation as a young teen. I started working when I was 10 years old to buy clothes and other niceties that young girls wanted. I, at times, worked two and three jobs at the same time and went to school, trying to keep up my grades so I could go to college. At home during my little free time, I had to clean house because my mother worked. A real life Cinderella.
When I was in eighth grade I saw the Franco Zeffirelli movie Romeo & Juliet with Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey at least 15 times. (I paid for it myself!) A believer in fairy tales and with an irrepressible optimism despite my grim circumstances, I knew I was destined for a great and powerful love such as theirs that I saw over and over again on the big screen. Oh yeah, I was a dreamer.
Yet sometimes dreams come true. I likened my story to a real life Cinderella meeting her prince, and I was just 15 when I met my prince. He was tall (6 foot to my 5 foot 7 – a necessity) and handsome, funny and talented. In the massive universe of our urban high school, we somehow connected. It seemed to me that he was the cutest boy in the entire school. He was a grade older and it took a bit of flirting work to get his interest. Once I did though, in short order, we fell deeply in love, and in our young hearts and minds we felt we were soul mates, destined to be written into the great annals of love history – like Romeo & Juliet, minus the tragedy.
His white horse was a brand new light blue Pontiac Firebird, and he swooped me off to great adventures on a weekly, and then daily basis in my teenage years. It was with him when I experienced my first of many, many rock concerts, and saw my first Broadway show. It was when I first experienced elegant dining, being brought gifts and flowers, and being made to feel like a princess for the first time in my life. We were from different socioeconomic circumstances, and he could afford to spoil me.
Aside from the great fun, the hours of time spent on our mutual love of music and slapstick, and excessive amount of laughter we shared, we nurtured each other’s talents and dreams at a very vulnerable and impressionable time in life. In fact, I was the first to passionately believe in his talent and knew he would become something great. We wrote gorgeous prose in the form of daily love letters to one another and I still have his letters tied up in a bow in a great big box of mementos.Ironically, both of us have become writers and he has become well respected in Hollywood in his field. We share a mutual pride in each other’s talents and accomplishments.
The above is an actual letter from him pulled from the “box.”
With our immaturity, our young love wasn’t picture perfect. It could be volatile with many intoxicating highs and devastating lows. A combination of parental pressures and other life forces and ambitions broke us up but somehow we managed to remain friends all throughout these many years. My children know this great guy as “Uncle Howard” who always bestowed wonderful treats on them.
That’s him on the far right above, a few years ago with me, my husband and all the kids.
I think of him on occasion and especially on his birthday, which happened to be the same day as our very first date oh so many years ago. So in honor of his birthday, I wrote this little tribute to him and the first love that we shared.
My mature heart, knowing full well where my love priorities are these days, will always keep some warm embers glowing for my first love. I have never felt the urge to run off with him as an adult, and yet, I feel compelled to tenderly keep him among my most treasured friends.