I was fourteen and you were old enough to be driving already. Maybe you were just sixteen? Maybe.
You were the boy who taught me about waiting.
Because I was confusing, confused. Because I dated your friends, because I told you yes, and then told you no. What I usually meant was maybe.
Maybe tomorrow. Maybe I will call you, maybe I will wait for you after class. Maybe I will go to the dance with you in a green cocktail dress with scalloped sleeves. Maybe I will let you buy me a flower corsage for my wrist. Maybe I’ll hold your hand.
And you waited, because you were the kind of boy that didn’t mind waiting for someone worth waiting for. This is what you said. How amazing, to be the kind of girl, at fourteen, that was worth waiting for!
And while I made you wait, fourteen became fifteen became sixteen. And while you waited, maybe turned into sometimes. Then sometimes turned into often.
And what you taught me, then makes my cheeks turn pink, now.
Because then, it was a long drive on Friday night down dirt roads, when we were supposed to be at the movies. The road with the shoes thrown over the the telephone wires above it.
We were doing everything but. But we were always satisfied. I was leaning into your breath-stop-gasp. So many we shouldn’ts. Oh, but we should. Should we?
I was holding your hand all the time; I wasn’t sure. You were tentative and eager. I was too, often. I floated around, migratory in the shh-shh-shh of your soft words, don’t worry about tomorrow.
It was the last time that I was okay with not knowing what would happen next.
Sometimes you kissed me on my mother’s front stoop, under the porch light that screamed my curfew was fast approaching–loudly, brightly, glowing. And often my brother was inside at the window, peeking. Swinging his legs on the stairs, singing. Nicky and Y-O-U sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.
And those things came, of course. Eventually. But not with you.
Maybe that’s just the way these things go, maybe you know that now, as I do. I hope you understand that. Maybe you wish that we could go back. Twenty years is a long time, but maybe you think it could be that way again, for Just. One. Moment.
Sometimes I think I could see you again and we would be lovely friends. Weren’t we always friends, first? Sometimes I know if I saw you again you would probably be glad it didn’t work out like we planned. Sometimes I am just glad to let things live in the lemony evening light on that porch, there.
Often, I know I was lucky to have you. You taught me about waiting, after all. And I wanted to tell you that’s what I did, eventually.
I let go of hands and held my palms to the telephone wires. Kept the porch light on, sang with my brother. Often I worried about tomorrow. I wasn’t fourteen anymore.
But I waited and waited, for someone. Often, someone came. But no, they were not him, not the one. Porch light screaming, maybe tomorrow. Waiting.
Until he came.
And then I learned that I, too, was the kind of someone who didn’t mind waiting—-for someone worth waiting for.
Because his face was shining: loudly, brightly, glowing.
I thanked you, noiselessly, with my eyes closed. And so, it was and is goodnight, my first love. Because it feels safe to finally go inside now and this time, I will not turn around. All my waiting is over.
This time, I will turn out the porch light.