I remember it like it was yesterday, well maybe not quite like yesterday but definitely not some 21 years ago — the first time someone other than a family member told me, “I love you.” It came from my first real boyfriend. I think back on that time and there were actually a lot of firsts during this time in my life.
It was my first year in college and away from the safety net of home and my parents; I had my first real boyfriend, one that actually cared how my day went; my first real kiss that meant something; and of course my first ‘I love you’.
I remember when John and I met. We sat next to each other in freshman English. All of us freshman had this wild eye about us as if we had just lost our one and only friend in the world and we were looking ever so desperately find a new best friend, so everyone we came in contact with became a target in our attempt to find a replacement. Anyway, John and I hit it off immediately. When we had to do a group project (which I hate) we immediately paired up, which made the project a lot more tolerable. We would go to the library, head straight for the reference section and commandeer the table right across from the Oxford English Dictionaries and next to the window that overlooked the Commons and the Koi pond. I have to admit that most of the time we didn’t do much research, but we did do a lot of talking and laughing. We laughed so much and so loudly one day that the librarian had to come over and tell us to quiet down.
Well the group project is over and midterms are upon us and John and I have become practically inseparable, and our friends are asking questions. ”What’s going on with you and John?” Every time I see you, I see John. Are you dating?”
“No. We’re just friends,” was our answer to their interrogatories. The truth of the matter, I wanted us to be more than friends, but not having a boyfriend before or even a guy I was slightly interested in left me not knowing how to even go about broaching the topic; so I just left it alone and hoped that he felt the same way and would bring it up or my feelings would just go away.
We had become library study buddies, and we were there until the library closed writing our midterm papers. So he, being the gentleman that he is, walked me back to my dorm. I was glad he did because there are portions of the walk that are pretty dark and secluded and I really hated that walk at night by myself. We get to my dorm and go up to my floor and hang out in the study lounge for a while just talking and laughing – my favorite thing to do with John, because he’s got this supper infectious laugh and his smile just lights up a room and you can’t help but smile back. I remember sitting there on the sofa, facing him with my head on the back rest of the sofa listening to him tell a story about when he, his dad and two brothers would go out in the back yard and play football and how his dad went running and tried to intercept a pass and he fell head first in to dog poo. He belted out a hearty laugh and of course I had to laugh, but at the same time I thought “how disgusting”. I was also noticing how when he laughed his nose would crinkle and his eyes just lit up.
After his poo story we just sat there quiet. He closed his eyes and I remember watching him for a few minutes before I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. I don’t remember falling asleep, but I remember waking to a warm hand on my face. I looked up and there was John. I could feel his breath and the only thing I could think of, “Is he going to kiss me?” I wanted him to. He was just looking at me and then he asked, “Can I kiss you?”
I didn’t know what to say. I had wished for this moment and now it’s here and I don’t know what to say, so I said “Okay,” which after I heard myself say it sounded pretty bad. “I mean, I’d like that.”
“Okay,” he says. He did and it was soft and warm and non invasive. Not at all what I imagined a first kiss to be, but I was glad that it was that way and I got this warm fuzzy feeling inside. After it was over he put his head back on the sofa and took my hand in his and told me that he’s liked me for a while now and wanted to be more than just friends.
So, it’s the end of our first collegiate semester and the university has something going on everyday of the week before finals and during finals — a concert, a movie, a play. Something to get your mind off finals for a moment. John and I decided to see the drama department’s production of various scenes from plays and movies. They did the famous “Romeo and Juliet” balcony scene and when the actress said, “Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?” John said, “Right here.”
I turned to him and he had this great big cheese grin on his face. ”You are such a cornball,” I said and we both tried to chuckle as quietly as possible; but it didn’t quite work. We got a few nasty glares and stares and a lot “shhh’s” and “shut up’s.” We did finally compose ourselves by the end of the scene. We sat hand-in-hand watching and listening to scenes from “Gone with the Wind,” “Psycho,” “The Bad Seed,” Hamlet’s Soliloquy, and someone even recited Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Raven.” They did the scene from “Ghost” where Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze are at the pottery wheel, and John leaned over and whispered in my ear, “I love you.” I squeezed his hand in acknowledgement and we sat there quietly hand-in-hand.