• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
  • Archives

People Tell Me It’s A Sin To KNow and Feel Too Much Within

Today, the flood of men and women exiting the subway reminded me of grade schoolers lined up for a field trip. I could see their childhood faces, their satchels and cases, their laces lovingly tied, buckles buckled. I felt a rare happiness when I refilled my Metrocard and walked through my city feeling more alive than not. A man held a door open for me, a banker asked after my health. And a pale girl with thick braids rolled a cigarette with a tiny filter and wrote along its side: n’est pas une pipe. This is where I used to walk, these bricks, that window casement, the neon sign in the delicatessen with apple turnovers the size the tricorn hats. My first love was a boy named Chris who played a steel guitar. And we sat there. And shared a pastry.

Who was your first love? Have you written about him or her?

50 Responses

  1. My first love was much to young for me. I was in grade 12 and he was in grade 9. I think there’s a piece of him in every boy I write. Forbidden, awkward, slightly perverted, friends who can’t be more, Eskimo kissing, falling asleep beside each other, listening to REM, playing guitar, losing him to another girl, who left him for his best friend.


  2. Anthoney Levenbachs…PS 98 , kindergarten…but what about Adrienne Rich tonight?

  3. Craig. I write about him as Ethan. We’re still friends almost 30 years later. I can see in my blog stats that he comes back during his low points and reads the stories I wrote about him. I don’t tell him I know when he calls just to say hi and our conversations last an hour or more.

  4. My first love was Peter McCall. We sat next to each other in seventh grade at St. Saviour’s on Sixth Street in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, and we’re still sitting next to each other in our 42nd year of marriage. I have written about him, in explicit detail, in my memoir “When the Piano Stops” published by Seal Press. AND… I actually got to dedicate a song to him in a piano bar in Manhattan. What did I sing? You guessed it: an old song called “I Could Write a Book.” The occasion? We were in NYC, because I was meeting with my agent and celebrating the publication of my memoir. Good times!

    • This is one of the happiest stories I’ve read in a while.

      There may be others like it further down in the responses, but I haven’t gotten to them yet.

  5. I loved Ralphie in Kindergarten because he had freckles. He made me cry when he said my grey wool bonnet was a “baby hat”. He tore my squirrel picture on purpose. Thus the path of my life.

  6. (So that banker, Betsy, who asked after your health–I’m guessing you’ve taken out a loan.)

    Yes, I wrote about my first love. Neither wisely nor well. Nothing I’ve written about her has been published. Yet. It needs more work. Maybe I’ll live long enough to do that, and maybe I won’t. She won’t care, she passed away eight years ago.

    We were sixteen. She was my friend and she became my lover. She had a baby and maybe I was the father.

    Here’s something from a poem I wrote many years later:

    some things just stick in the mind
    a child’s birthday
    a lover’s smile
    a given name
    a darkened street
    green eyes
    how each person sighs in a different way

  7. His name was Bobby and had red hair and freckles. We passed torrid, misspelled notes in the daily reading circle, and waved at each other across the playground. When we went back inside, he gave me dandelions and I gave him interesting rocks.

    Our first grade teacher was engaged and she told my parents she didn’t know which one of us would be married first. He did ask me, but I wasn’t ready, yet. The next year, he moved two streets over and disappeared into a different elementary school district.

    Much, much later, I heard he’d gone into a diabetic coma while driving and crashed his car—Dad said he’d forgotten whole chunks of his life, including his wife and kids.

    The part of me around which the entire universe revolves wondered if he still thought I was his girlfriend and what I might do if he showed up on my doorstep with a fistful of dandelions . . .

  8. My “love life” – past and present – is best left unchronicled. Mostly one-sided: me the one with the crush, he either oblivious or cruelly aware; let’s just say that this is one pot that’s never found her lid.

    Yet, the smell of warm air, the living taste of berries just plucked from my tree, frolicking foals and frantically singing birds remind my soul, at least, to revel in Spring.

  9. I was quite a little slut in kindergarten. There was Banti, the Indian boy in our apartment building, and he won my heart when he seized my bratty little sister’s stuffed monkey and hurled it down the well.

    But then along came the alpha male. This chap named Phillip who was the first grade stud at the English School. When I lost my first tooth, he retrieved it from the apple it got stuck in.

  10. My first true love fell down a mine shaft somewhere near Broken Hill and was drowned in sand. That happened in my first unpublished book. I think he became a literary professor.

  11. Alan. At seven, the love of my life was Alan, the headmasters son. I bought him sugary snowballs with my pocket money and he dunked the ends of my plaits into his inkwell. I tried to impress him, flashing knickers, with roly polys around the bars of the school gate; he stole a kiss behind the bike sheds by holding my arm in a half nelson. We came second in a fancy dress competition at the village fete; he was dressed as a doctor and me as a nurse. Age of innocence? I think not.

  12. My first love was a French boy I met in Germany on vacation (I am Dutch). I was seventeen. He had dark hair and soulful brown eyes and only one hand. So much more interesting than the pale Dutch boys at home with two hands. He wanted to be a cinematographer. I pined for him for a year but we never managed to get together again.

    Years later, after I was married to a pale blond blue-eyed American, I received at my mother’s address an invitation to his wedding in France. I must have still been in his address book.

    And no, I never wrote about him, but I still see those dark eyes, and that dark hair falling over his forehead. But my pale American mate is is my prince.

  13. Cathy. We met in grade eight in gym where we were taught to square dance. I got to dosie doe her home, then secretly pined for her until grade 12 when I finally got the nerve to ask her out. We got married 25 years ago, had 4 kids and I get to dosie doe her home every night. She’s embedded in my DNA, including all my writing

  14. I’ve been trying to write my first love into my fiction for longer than I care to discuss. I often wonder if you never forget your first love or you never forget the first poet/musician you loved.

  15. My sixth grade love was Gus. He gave me a friendship ring. It turned my finger green. I wrote about him in my first book–a chapter about the narrator’s first date.

  16. Ronnie B. No, I haven’t written about him, probably because he broke up with me without the formality of informing me; I figured it out after he hadn’t talked to me for a few days and I saw him with another girl. A much later love has shown up in a few stories, as yet unpublished. Thinking about this right now I wonder if it’s because he’s the only man I never came to despise. His name is Bobby M.

  17. Danny.
    A tender night of memories. Until this moment I did not realize he became Deacon; giving Vera the very same memories Danny gave me. So now two of us share what it was like to be loved by a gentle and passionate young man. Ah…to be young again, when discovery was life changing and the future promised in minutes.

  18. I was a late bloomer. His name was Joe. He was a year older and we were in theater together. We were both in the chorus which lent itself to numerous breaks during our late night practices, smoking Marlboro Reds and chewing Big Red on the dark front steps of the high school.
    Last I heard he was out on Long Island with his boyfriend.
    Haven’t written a thing about him. Not yet.

  19. I’m still in touch with mine. We were in junior high together, he one year older. Our story is already out there, minus the children, of course.


    He had me and my four best friends and we all got along beautifully. There was jealousy, to be sure, but it fueled our connection.

    Last month my book club read The 19th Wife and we talked a lot about this set up. Personally I would love it ’cause I could use a sister. This parenting thing is way more difficult than I ever imagined.

  20. Jamie. Like many early 1970s couples, we did things together, one day we’d do mescaline, the next peyote, take a day off then eat pot brownies. We’d take self-timed black and white photographs of ourselves in the park, develop the prints in the Fine Arts building darkroom (I scammed a key) and laugh when images appeared in the printing bath with aperture prisms or weird glows surrounding us, auras, we righteously assumed, created by the psychedelics. I had an urge to travel and she never held me back. My grandfather said, “When you throw the knife at the wall, where does the handle go?” So I went back and we lived together. Within a few days Vodka and valium replaced the party drugs and by the spring I was on the road again. There was more to the relationship than just drugs; we came from nearly identical childhoods affected by alcohol and divorce. If I saw her today, I wouldn’t hesitate to fall into her arms. And when I write about her I do so glowingly.

  21. No, I haven’t written about her. Was it truly love? I was too emotional, too inexperienced. Years have past, but it is impossible to reset those memories into my more wizened world. They and the dreams that sometimes come will forever be seen through the eyes of that wild, impulsive young man who couldn’t get out of his own way.

  22. A high school crush. I married him. We are Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane.”

  23. We met when we were ten. He lived across the street. We walked my dog and played tennis in the driveway. Graduated from high school. Both of us married creeps. Divorced. Got together at thirty. We’ve been married twenty-five years this month. Some happy endings aren’t fantasies.

  24. My first love was a guitar player in one of the house bands on the Vegas strip. I was 18, he was 35 and living in a seedy motel near the airport. He had only planned to stay a night or two when he first got to town from Arkansas, but gambled his (cash) salary away every Friday, as soon as he got it. When I met him, he’d been in the same motel room for a year.

    I used to watch the band from outside the bar while fending off security guards and balding men in open-necked shirts (hey sweetheart, wanna make some money?). After the gig I would drive him back to the Airport Inn with a take-out burger for his supper and the rent money to keep him off the street. Later he would fuck me face-down on the bed–always the same way. I never understood why.

    Six months after he moved back to Little Rock, he invited me to visit. He was living in a tiny trailer with one end piled with debris. At the other end was the bed. He hadn’t bothered to change the sheets but he said I was the love of his life. The next day I went down to the corner shop to use the phone (because he didn’t have one) and changed my flight home. I told him my dad was in the hospital. I couldn’t get away fast enough.

    I’ve never written about him until now. I hope he’s okay. He’s probably not, though, he’s probably dead. He was very sweet. He never offered me cocaine.

  25. Robert. I had 5 of his babies and we lived in a big house in the country, but then he joined the army and i went off to college.

  26. Richie. We were in high school. Richie’s dad owned a small appliance store, and for 2 years we holed up on a mattress in the back storage room behind a bunch of broken-down Frigidaires and ovens and lawn mowers. We piled on the blankets in winter, lit a lot of candles, smoked a lot of pot — I’m surprised we didn’t burn the place down. It always smelled like gasoline in there.

    He tracked me down last year, after 30 years, with a phone call. Said he’d just recovered from his 4th heart attack and was feeling like he wasn’t long for this earth, and maybe we could get together next time I’m in town. We talked for 2 hours and I cried for 2 days. Then I found out the bastard had just gotten divorced, had no “heart issues” and was just out scamming the earth, looking to get laid. Fucker.

    • Teri – he did have heart issues: he lost his during his spiraling bad journey through adulthood. He might find it again behind one of those broken lawnmowers, but I doubt it. I’m glad you were able to sleuth out this scam before he started asking for “burial money”, too! Take care.

      • Clue #1. My husband expresses doubt: “All men are just looking, one way or another, to get laid.”

        Clue #2. My best friend from back home calls and says, Guess who I saw last week at the Pick ‘n Feed? He just got divorced and he’s still hot! I gave him your number, hope that’s okay.

        Clue #3. The internet. A photo of him standing next to an old blue corvette with t-tops next to the screen name Blue Eyed-something, on a Christian dating site.


      • RE Clue #3: all the ingredients for a wicked horror story– I’m thinking the ‘vette actually carries his heart and the color blue is a symbol for something evil. A former nun will be his undoing.

  27. danny. he was my lusty love, the one who taught me about the importance of sexuality, thank god.

    one evening, down by the lake, he touched me, traced the tender spot in the crook of my arm. i looked down at his hand, and imagined hooking fingers into my mouth, imagined the taste of his copper dusted skin. the smell of smoke from the bonfire was intoxicating.

    i smiled my agreement and our conversation flowed around us and i remember that i laughed without thinking. then he smiled and, kicking at the sand, spoke my name like it was proof of what was about to happen between us.

    “c’mon,” he said, pulling my hand.

  28. I’ve given up on the whole idea of sin and embraced the need to be open to the person, the incident, the need of the moment. Makes every day one to celebrate. We are alive. We love. And yes, we suffer because we love. If that’s sin, then it’s a blessed sin

  29. Not the first, but I vividly remember a girl named Betsy who said, “I think I have a crush on your crush on me.”

  30. Not counting my kindergarten love, with the bowl cut and the dimples, my first love was a confused Catholic college boy drawn to my Jewish neurotic confusion–or my boobs. He died in an avalanche making a first ascent of a mountain in Alaska, along with another dear friend of mine.

    I have been trying to write about him ever since. 15 years in April.

  31. Phil W. So incredibly cute. Beautiful blue eyes and a set of those early blooming broad shoulders and neat little waist. He was perfect. Until he came running across soccer fields and basketball courts with those big, ol’ duck feet. But I still loved him. Quack.

    • I loved a woman who was slightly pigeon-toed. I have big old goofy duck feet. I always felt we left perfect footprints in the sand.

  32. As I drove away, for the last time, from everything which mattered to me, my business, all of my friends, and my married lover, I remember thinking that my life was utterly and irrevocably over. Never had I felt so alone, so adrift in emptiness. I was heading to a small second floor office where I was to start a new business. If, in the mile and a half of distance from one life to another, there had been a bridge abutment or a cliff I would have rammed my car or driven off.

    My new office was with filled with crap from the business downstairs. Two men were clearing out the shit. One became my husband the other his best man. We have been married 32 years.
    Was he my first love, no, but my God, he certainly is real.

  33. Counselor at Happy Hollow bible camp where my foster parents sent me to find the lord. I found him. We made out like mad in the kitchen walk in refrigerator. On the trails. I tried to get him to do more but he was saving himself for marriage.

  34. Of course I wrote about him. Sadly, he was in the same creative writing class.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: