Lessons From Women I’ve Loved

*I have loved and I have lost. I have cut loose and I have been cut loose. I have mourned the end and I have come up gasping for air like a drowning man. Such is love. None of these women know that this blog exists. Barely anyone does. But, all the same, anonymity is largely protected here.

A,
First love is a bond that is never broken. No matter who I ever love, the lesson of loving you will stay with me forever. I will never, and could never forget kissing you that first time. You in your blue dress. I had never loved another person so much that it hurt to be out of their presence.

We were so hysterically young.

When you broke up with me on your back porch, and I went back to my car through the yard, so that I didn’t have to walk back through the house and let your parents and your sister see me sobbing cataclysmically, I learned that love is a terrible, damnable, awful thing. But a thing that is worth every wound it inflicts. I owe you much for that.

 

Al,
I remember the first time I ever put my eyes on you. What you said. What you were wearing. Where we were. We were in the seventh grade. The seventh grade. We were thirteen years old, Al. And I knew something that I loved was in you. And five years later, I loved you. And I do, desperately, mean that I loved you. But boys are foolish at eighteen. And fools are forever regretting the fruits of their foolishness. I had no idea how to handle a girl who loved me the way that you did.

And I broke my first heart at eighteen.

Regret is scoffed at and wished away, and warded off with trite sayings bound in neat packages. But I have one great regret in my life. And you suffered tears for my mistake.

Your husband is a better man than I am. I know this, because I know him. And I know him very well. And your son is beautiful. I had no idea eyes could be as blue as that boy’s. They are your excellent reward for my foolishness. From you, I have learned that even what I regret, may have perfect resolution for someone else. None of the words I know are good enough to say how happy I am for your life.

 

S,
You broke up with me on AIM. Not cool. No hard feelings, though. You were too tall for me, anyway. We looked ridiculous.

 

B,
Every man has a story about an insane woman. And thanks to you, mine is a wildly entertaining cautionary tale filled with 3 am phone calls to inform me of my shortfalls, forged letters from “ex-girlfriends”, and my first – and I pray only – instance of trying to break up with someone, and failing.

I have never slept so soundly as the night I told you to hit the bricks. The sunrise was brighter, colors more vivid, food more sumptuous. Thank you for teaching me warning signs.

But, and I can’t stress this enough, you were the worst.

 

J,
That we can now speak to each other like human beings that once put our tongues in each other’s mouths, rather than strangers on a bus, is a huge improvement. I saw you hide behind someone once, to avoid being seen by me. We all deal in our own ways, I suppose.

I told you I loved you, and I swore that I did.

I did not.

I told you so, because I had inside information that the feeling was incredibly mutual, and you were simply waiting for me to voice my feeling. So I told you. And you laid upon my vulnerable spirit the “I’m not ready to say it” speech. Which I respected, and appreciated.

A week later you dumped me.

And three days after that I got fired. And the next day, I came to see you, so that we could talk, because if ever I needed you, it was after I lost my job. And I put on a pathetic display. Sobbing on the way home so hard that I missed my exit, and ended up in Virginia. But you have done me a great service, teaching me that love is not a feeling. And if love is based completely on the chemicals at work on my brain, it isn’t love at all. Love is infinitely more than a base human emotion.

And I’m really glad that we can speak to each other now. That year of pretending we’d never met was ridiculous.

I owe you, all of you, all more than I can tell. Thank you.

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