The most remarkable thing about the first girl I really fell in love with was her smile. It was framed in a perfect face surrounded by yellow-gold hair. Even when she was pouting, you could see the smile behind it. She was a happy person but a little lonely.

I think the thing she liked the most about me was that I talked to her. I mean really talked: the kind of talking where you have to listen carefully first. I mean my looks are not my best feature. And I tend to hide-repress my emotions. And I dress like a slob. But when I open my mouth, the words are crafted with care both honest and logical.

In a way, they were too honest. When the topic turned to love, I would profess, "I don't KNOW what love is so how can I love you." In the end, my words would be my undoing. In the end, she found someone a little older and a little wiser who I'm sure told her the depths to which he loved her.

However, I did come to know love. It was on that day she said she didn't want to see me any more. On the walk home, the lesson was clear what love was: taking the long way home instead of the shortcut through the neighbour's yard just so I could have more time to dry the tears; the feeling of being punched in the stomach several times; the older, more beautiful girl next door comforting me but all I could think of was HER.

That day a knot formed in my heart. It was a double stranded twisted gnarly knot that tightened every time I thought of her. The two strands were love and hate. They had intertwined and lodged so deep that it took years to untie.

Six years later. After going to my first love's wedding, I sat down to write a thank you note for inviting me to the festive occasion. I made some notes on a scrap of paper trying to organize my thoughts into sentences. Well! The venom that spewed forth was some of the most hateful thoughts that I had ever had. I discovered that the pining and love that I had for this girl for all those six long years was trapped inside my heart because I had failed to acknowledge the hate I felt because of her spurning me.

I was free at last. It was like someone turning on a light in a dark room. I was married a short time later and my wife and I lived happily ever after.

I never did send that thank you note. And, my first love is now living on a pig farm raising pigs. Maybe there is a god after all.

for Rathera re: March 6, 2003

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