Sunday, December 8, 2013

Young Love

I've fallen in love twice in my life.  The first time, I was young (21).  The second time, I was older (42).  The experiences were very different.

Young love has wonderful aspects to it.  I was reminded of them tonight when I saw a 1995 film, "Before Sunrise".  The film covers the day two young people meet on a train, fall in love and spend an evening together walking around Vienna.  It stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.  There was a sequel nine years later ("Before Sunset") and another this year ("Before Midnight"). 

When you fall in love for the first time, it's euphoric.  You feel deeper emotions than you thought possible.  At times, you feel like your very life is at stake.  Everything is new and exciting.

My first love was an artist named Maura.  She was super-intelligent and unbelievably cute.  Her bright red hair and round cherubic face were irresistible.  Also, Maura was extremely unconventional and that appealed to me.  I was looking for someone to help me escape the Procrustean conformity of my upbringing.  I needed to grow and Maura's bohemian nature expanded my knowledge in many areas.  Maura taught me about art; she taught me how to cook; she taught me about feminism.

Maura had deep-seated needs and I filled them.  We fit each other like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle.  Together, we grew up in important ways.  And shared experiences that I'll remember my whole life.

When you're young and in love, you do crazy things.  At least I did.  Maura and I spent the first seven years living apart as each of us stayed in different cities for our education.  We spent a lot of time on Amtrak.  Every time I put her on a train, as it took off, I'd run alongside it and wave.  And wave.  And keep running and waving until the train pulled out of the station.  I didn't care that bystanders thought I was nuts; I was in love.  I couldn't bear separating from her and tried to savor every second of being together.

Now, three decades later, I recall those events and feelings.  With fondness.  We should engage life in all its glory and pain.  I know I did.

Did you fall in love in your youth?  What was it like?


  1. Funny you mention this! At Scott's Christmas party last night, I came across one of his co-workers who currently knows my first love. He and I were QUITE conservative in our physical affection, but emotionally, there were no boundaries. When this coworker and I discovered this shared acquaintance, I dismissed our relationship to a witty but accurate synopsis: "Typical Mennonite relationship. Nothing too serious... I think we held hands once. We spent most of our time planning our wedding." While the response was in the form of a joke (Why don't Mennonites have sex standing up? It could lead to dancing!), that rush of remembered emotion overcame me... the electricity every time our fingers touched. The exhaustion of talking on the phone all night (snuck into our bedrooms, as his parents definitely did not approve of me!), the feeling of holding my breath as I watched him walk down the hallway towards me every morning at school.
    When we graduated, we had a continent separating us as he went to school in Texas (with one public phone line for the entire, but small, campus), and I stayed in Canada. I can still feel the last hug he gave me, the inability to breathe because of the pain at hearing his voice so far away and so distant as we slowly drifted apart.
    There is not one part of who I currently am that would ever want to have had that relationship last, but in comparison to so many relationships of people at that age (we were 17-ish), I truly cherish how purely emotional that relationship was. We have both since married. I even attended his wedding (mostly for the spectacle of it -- his bride is very much the spitting image of me). We still cordially wish each other happy birthday on Facebook. It's so strange to still be in contact with someone who meant so much to me once. Without a doubt, he was the boy who taught me how to love.

    1. What lovely recollections. Thanks for sharing, Cara.

  2. Chris and I fell in love young. We were both 20, and we went dancing one night in college with a group of mutual friends, but we didn't know each other. Normally, no one ever dances with me. I like to think that it's because I'm such an awesome dancer and people are intimidated by my smooth moves. But in reality, I kind of stink at dancing and people are embarrassed for me.

    But that night as I was dancing alone (again), Chris came over and danced with me...for the entire night. And that was it. We went from complete strangers to serious couple in a single night. And I never used to believe in love at first sight. But when you know, you know. :)

  3. because of my loveless upbringing my love experiences were not the best when i was young. they grow better - slowly - after i took therapy/coaching at the beginning of my 30´s. at the end of 30 i met my husband, by 40 i married him. the best thing i've ever done! Late happiness :-)

  4. I agree, the experiences are different, I fell in love with a most unsuitable young man at 17! and it was love, I adored him but it was a time where I learned a lot of important lessons about what a relationship should be, and it wasn't, and the break-up was brutal, and I wouldn't change a thing, truly - and later when I met my hub, I knew, it's true! it was as if all around him was blurred and he was there, clear as day! and today, it is still brilliant, we make each other laugh, a lot (of course we argue too!) x x x

  5. I love reading that kind of stories - too bad suck at writing similar ones. Methinks I didn't really fall in love when I was young - I had a bf, but it was more about wanting attention and having fun.. I know, I sound horrible but I had my reasons ;( . Luckily I did fall in love in my 30's, ha :D

  6. I look back at my early relationships and wonder if I was really in love. It felt like it at the time, but I knew each relationship would have an expiration date--even at 14. I knew that I would keep growing and that person wouldn't be the right fit after awhile.

    Then, I met my husband, and I didn't even think of him as an option because he was younger than me. I called him up on a whim, and we hung out and fell in love. I was 17 and he was 16, and we've been together ever since (about 17 1/2 years). We grew up together, and we get each other in a way no one else does. When I think about him, I know that it's really love.

  7. Awwww! What a sweet post! I have seen those two movies, not "Before Midnight" though. I fell in love with Kyle at a very young age (15). We did silly things too like drive past each others houses late at night and wave to each other. Or I would get up extra early for school, just to go to his house and say good morning to him. Young love is fun love :)

  8. I ended up marrying my high school sweetheart when I was almost 30. I can't say I've ever really loved (romantically speaking) anybody else. Beautiful post <3

  9. First love is always difficult for me, I always had to move when I found someone and I came from a very strict family--who did not approve of any of the guys I dated, so I would say the older I got the better falling in love was for me. :) Great post.

  10. I loved that film.

    It reminds me of my travels and how I would meet people while travelling.

    I spent much of my youth galavanting around Europe and North America living life and falling in love. I was young and I loved falling in love. It didn't bother me when I fell out of love because I knew just around the corner there would be another love. I was always willing to love but not willing to stand still long enough to let it last. It made for a very rich, wild adventure.

    When I met my husband the last year I was in France I knew I was ready for a change. I was finally at the right moment of my life to commit. Turns out we were both ready to fall in love and commit to each other, having both sewn our wild oats exhaustively.

    Some 23 years later I look back on my younger years fondly, though I have never once wondered what I might have been missing all these years. A sign I made the right choice.

    Thanks for making me remember.


  11. I'm still with my first love. We're quickly approaching our 9th year of knowing one another (6th year of marriage, next month!) and I still get fluttery feelings over him from time to time.

    It's hard to explain to outsiders on occasion why a relationship works and feels the way it does, but for me, I just simply knew when I met my husband that he was the right one, and we'd either figure it out or not. We're fairly unconventional people, but we compliment one another in the ways that are important.

    Many people don't think it's a good idea to marry as young as I did, but I consider myself extremely luck to have the support and love I do.

    I definitely felt the love-at-first-sight sort of thing, but having then-boyfriend stick by me through my mother's addiction episodes, my family's ups and downs, my own mental and physical health struggles.. we've grown together and I can't imagine going through life without the DH.

  12. This was such a touching, immensely lovely read. I was especially struck by your (near) closing line about engaging (and by extension reminiscing) about life's glory, as well as its pain. As a die hard nostalgist, I do both often - yes, even about some of my past relationships.

    ♥ Jessica

  13. I'll sum up to this: My first mother-in-law had hired a private investigator to tap my phone, recorded private conversations between me and her son and was threatening me to give them to my parents in order to stop dating her son.... (he was kind of rich, I was so not). I was 17. Kind of spooky...These days I can't handle all that passion. I prefer the kind of relationship I have with my current partner: safety, understanding, respect, deeper love and feelings in general. Suits me much better, plus the first relationship left me with a deep fear of commitment for years to come. (hey.... I'm super, extra sensitive - you must have noticed!).
    Nice question Ally!
    P.S. - I was about to notify you that you have pantone's hot colour, but you beat me to it! Cool right?? This is the one year that if you paint your house bright pink you can get away with it!!! I'd arrange a pink redecoration for you if I lived anywhere near you! Be glad I'm far far away... hahaha! kisses :)

  14. I must say I don't remember my first love very well... but I think I was 19 and he was younger than me (my fiance is also younger than me). anyway, this guy was my first boyfriend and at least I thought I loved him but when I think about it now it was quite stupid and he was not the best boyfriend (we lived in different cities and didn't see each other very often). after a while I left him because it was hard to have a boyfriend who was always so far. I felt lonely and sad and yeah, found a new guy who had the same forename actually :D I also left this guy after a while because it turned out he was even worse than the previous. but okay, I'm going to stop now because that would be a looong story.

    Maikeni blogi - part of me

  15. Your write-up is so sweet. I could picture the younger version of you running along with the rain waving at your sweetheart.
    I have mixed feelings. I guess with those crazy feelings you mentioned I also remember the absolute agony of a broken heart. I am the type of person that likes to be in control. I do not like loosing control of myself and feelings which is probably why I have never done drugs. I felt when I was crazy in love I lost myself. I fell hard and when it was over it took months to heal. It was an amazing feeling and I am glad I experienced it but I prefer a steady solid love over that crazy one I guess.

    Oh, so sorry you can't comment on my blog. That is so weird.

  16. Aw... you running behind the train reminded me of a romantic film.
    Oh, I do remember the first time I fell head over heels over a guy. I was 14 and had an on/off relationship for 3 years. When I asked him to prom and he said no, it destroyed me and i cried my eyes out. I dated other guys but always thought about him, this went on for at least 5 more years. Then I realized that I had wasted a my tears and time.

  17. What an amazingly beautifully written post. l so remember my first love at the VERY young age of 10 . l fell head over heels in love with him only to be devastated when he broke up with me to go out with my gorgeous younger sister! We had an on again off again relationship until he was emotionally blackmailed into marriage by a suicidal, manipulative girl. I was then fortunate enough to meet my real soul mate and we have been together for 29 years and happily married for 26 years. I consider myself to be a VERY lucky girl - I still get flutters when l see him and he smiles when he sees me!

  18. Thanks for leaving such a darling comment on my blog!
    What a nicely written post - the first love truly is one of the life-changing events when growing up. My first broken heart left me many months in complete sadness...


  19. Aw what a sweet post!! I fell in love once before I met my husband. I was more than in love - I was utterly obsessed. It was a guy I had a super crush on and worked hard to get him. I finally won him... and he turned out to be the biggest a**hole on the planet. Since I was actually looking for a husband, not a lover I was able to open my eyes and see in him things I wouldn't even dare try to "fix" or cope with. He needed some serious help. So extremely broken hearted and discouraged that I would never find a husband - I just moved on.

  20. Very touching post, Ally. I also recall my first love with tenderness and I cherish those precious memories. My first love was distant to me, it was a long distance relationship and this lead also to many romantic, handwritten letters. It's true, love feels different at 20. Now it can be even better, but we are emotionally different, less naive. I also remember my first broken heart, the way I reacted was so dramatic, I could have handled it better now...but it was my first disappointment...I didn't cope with it very well ! Hugs

    Fashion and Cookies