My first love affair began when I was 7 years old; Paul was in my grade 1 class and even back then he was a ‘baby hottie’. We were inseparable... that is, until his family moved far away the next year. Amazingly, we managed to keep in touch the old fashioned way – pen pals. I still have letters from him dating back from when we were about 9. About once a year, our parents would arrange for us to spend a day together somewhere half way between our towns. It was really special, because even though we lead different lives, in a way, we still grew up together.
When we were 12, he had come to one of my friends’ big Italian family party. It turned out that he was a distantly related to them. It was so great to see him that day. We had more time that usual to catch up and spend time together. When it was time for him to leave, he leaned in and gave me my first kiss. I would never be certain if he meant it as just an overly-affectionate Italian-style kiss, but it lasted long enough that at least I was convinced that it meant a little more. It took me my complete surprise, but I remember it as such a sweet and tender moment.
Fast forwarding 4 years to high school, grade 10 and we still had managed to maintain a long-distance friendship. He was getting more handsome ever year – and I remained generally the same – slightly on the plus size of things. Since our junior kiss, neither of us displayed any eager hints to try to take things further between us. We just felt so comfortable together, and he always made me feel special. He was such a gentleman and made me feel like a million bucks whenever we went out. It wasn’t a feeling I often had at that age. He opened doors and pulled my chair out for me – according to the guys at my high school, chivalry was long since dead – so it was a really pleasant experience.
I never had a date to the holiday formal dances (which began in grade 10 and continued through to grade 13), so I invited Paul every year. If no guy from my school was going to ask me, then I was at least going to show up with the hottest date that side of the district. I always felt like a princess arriving on his arm and we also had so much fun together. There was never any awkwardness between us – we just enjoyed each other’s company. OK, so it didn’t hurt that by then he had begun to mature into an Italian Heart Throb, but it definitely wasn’t the ‘only’ reason.
Finally, it was time for the dreaded high school senior prom and surprise! – I was ‘sans boyfriend’ once again. I did have a couple boyfriends sprinkled throughout my high school timeline, but they never seemed to over-lap Valentine’s Day or formal events. It was like a curse! Luckily, Paul was more than happy to accompany me once again. We were 19 by this point, and a group of us had planned to go all out for this main event so we rented a hotel room.
I wore a black velvet fitted floor-length dress with capped sleeves and empire waist (it was very Audrey Hepburn) and black satin gloves that went on for miles. My $50 hair doo was up-swept in curls with pins and a few high-lighted jewels – and I looked shit hot! By midnight, it all had been shoved under a Mike Hard Lemonade baseball cap, the hem was torn on my dress, and my gloves had at least 2 cigar burns in them. Classy! We freely rotated between the bar at the dance and the stock of booze we already had in our room upstairs.
After a good number of trips back and forth, Paul and I had stayed in the room to relax for a few minutes, away from the madness. We were very drunk and were sharing a joke about something when we both collapsed on the bed. He smiled at me, took my baseball cap off and looked me right in the eyes. Suddenly, through my drunken fog, I saw that same boy that had given me my first kiss 7 years earlier. He brought me in close and started kissing me. It wasn’t strange at all – it was like it was destined to happen, and so it finally had.
We were rounding 3rd base when 2 significant things happened simultaneously. The rest of our group arrived at the door, pounding to let them in; and secondly, the room started spinning, badly. If we did manage to start having sex, I probably would have barfed all over him, so it was the best-awful timing when they showed up. We quickly fumbled to get re-dressed and allowed the rest of the mob into the room. My girlfriends knew that nothing had been previously brewing between Paul and me, so they never even clued in to what we had been up to – and what they had inconveniently interrupted.
It was nearing the end of the night and we had all started dropping off. The next morning we all had our usual hangover breakfast together and shared stories about crazy events from that night before. He went back to his distant life as usual, and I maybe saw him a couple times throughout university. We never really had a fiery love affair by any means, but there is no question that he would forever hold the position of being my childhood sweetheart – although I don’t even think that would be the proper label for what he meant to me, since it spanned almost half of my life.