I was fifteen when I fell in love for the first time.
It was a disaster.
For about two weeks before the actual falling happened, the object of my affection was merely my Student Counselor, simply named A for now. I was a troubled teen who had just come to the realization that I desperately needed to show the contents of my memory-vault to someone. When one Monday during assembly the friendly new teacher offered not only to teach us in a fresh, inspiring way but also to be available for individual, confidential counseling, I was the first to make my appointment. It was perfect: someone had invited me to tell all, no fee charged and no strings attached.
Not yet, anyway.
Within a fortnight of many detailed conversations and confessions, the strings that filled my mind were, for instance, the strings of A’s running shoes, or the strings of little beads of sweat from exercise, or the strings of very personal poems we started exchanging, as a gesture to say: mine for yours. Any kind of string even vaguely attached to the wonderful luminosity of A’s being, made my heart ache with longing.
There were particular smells, tastes, sounds, textures even that made me feel quite light- headed. I couldn’t concentrate in class and when I was supposed to be doing my homework I would sit in front of a window looking out for the familiar beat A jogged with, the comfortable motion of a person who had always been a runner.
The running A did was not only physical; I wasn’t the only one with things haunting me. I learned this through the poems, yes, but particularly through the many hours spent together in what became, to me, so much more than student-counselor-sessions. We would sit together in the beautiful garden with pale grey stones laid out in patterns, tall quiet trees and white and green cottage-like awnings. We would talk plainly, without censorship, about disillusionment and dreams and pain and little joys like chocolate and good movies. We had much in common, since the age difference was a decade at most.
A was the most attractive human being I had ever met. There had never before been anyone I ached for, with my heart wild and my groin burning and my hands desperate to touch.
A DID touch me, in all the non-sexual ways that made me crave the sexual ones. Such strange ways of showing affection that could only be the habits of an eccentric: fiddling with my school blazer button when during break I asked what time in the afternoon I should come over; twirling my hair through delicate fingers; resting a cold hand gently around my throat (something I’ve never had anyone else do ever again and something that made me feel amazingly comforted, never threatened).
The obvious taboos of such an intimacy were more than one, but they didn’t occur to me – or to A, apparently – at the time: student/teacher, teenager/adult, girl/woman.
Our closeness became very intense, to the point where I actually couldn’t resist kissing her any more. I would dig my nose deep into the back of the couch she had been sitting on and draw in her intoxicating aroma which I can still recognize as Beautiful-perfume to this day. My feelings were driving me crazy, urging me to express them. I HAD to kiss her at the very, very least.
But the closeness was unexpectedly ripped from me when she fell in love and into a relationship with a man, of course. I fell into a deep, dangerous depression – all my most painful experiences erupted inside me simultaneously – but I survived. I survived depression as well as falling in love for the first time. Both have the power to kill you with their sweetness.
Years later, once I had accepted that I would never have a relationship or even friendship with her ever again, I came clean in a letter I posted. She replied, just the one time, saying it was the most shocking thing she had ever heard and that I really had it all wrong if I thought there could ever be anything between us.
To this day I flatter myself with believing that, in fact, there actually was, when I was fifteen.