The first time I fell in love I was seven years old.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t actually love. A crush? Puppy love? What would you call it? — What I do know is, his name was Gary, he was two years older than me, and also the neighbor boy of my grandparents farm.
Shortly after starting primary school, I had begun spending summer holidays at my grandparents farm. – A place that I now think of as “my happiest place on earth”. Let’s go back to the beginning though. How was it even possible to like a boy at age seven? Didn’t boys have cooties then? Could he have been the only one who didn’t?
I remember hanging out with him and my brother, often riding dirt bikes around the fields, or sometimes playing ‘Hide & Seek’. — Except, Gary and I would often hide together, holding hands when no one saw. I also remember a lot of times my brother wasn’t there. So young, no one thought any different when we went off to play. The first time we kissed I was seven or eight years old. Okay, I don’t remember that one- not that clumsy peck on the lips kind, but it likely happened in a hay barn- our most coveted place to hide or spend time in at either farm.
This continued for three years. By then, I was spending two months of summer holidays at my grandparents, and was usually there for Easter and Christmas as well. Our hiding in hay barns was possible quite a bit throughout the year. I remember though, one holiday Gary just stopped coming over. I think he may have liked some other girl- one he could see at school everyday. I was ten and didn’t really understand. I also didn’t stop liking him.
Then one evening in the summer before I started high school, Gary came over with his parents. I was twelve and going into grade eight, and it was obvious things had changed. Here he was, standing in my grandparents house- a place he had avoided for the last two years. I remember that we went for a walk. He would have held my hand. I know my heart fluttered. — And somewhere after that moment, he kissed me. A proper kiss. My first real kiss with the boy I had liked since I could remember. It was magical.
Our love continued that summer and the year after. For two years I couldn’t wait to see and kiss him every upcoming holiday. I don’t know why, but we never told anyone. Of course, it wasn’t easy for a twelve year old girl to just hang out with a fourteen year old boy. Fortunately, our families were such good friends, and usually saw each other weekly. There were also the few occasions, where my brother still happened to come for some of the holiday as well. I remember one time he wanted to play ‘Harry Houdini’ and asked us to tie him up. He would then try to escape. We readily agreed, as how lucky could we be?! Whilst my brother was in one room trying to escape for half an hour, Gary and I got to kiss in the other!
Those couple summers, those school holidays in between, I remember laying in the grass together and looking at the constellations in the sky. I remember other times, holding hands under a blanket on the couch, our families having coffee in the kitchen. I remember kissing, and thinking that he would be the first guy I would sleep with. I remember thinking that one day, we would get married.
At such a young age, I had ideals of fairy tale relationships and marriage. I was sweetly naive to heartbreak. I didn’t know love didn’t always last forever. It was impossible to think that Gary wouldn’t be mine forever- especially as he came back to me. Already at the age of twelve or thirteen, I had gained romantic notions of relationships, yet felt the need for secrecy. I clearly had watched Dirty Dancing a few too many times.
Why I am telling you all this? Well, the other night I was watching a Hallmark movie about two people who reconnect after being best friends from neighboring farms, back when they were twelve years old. It reminded me of when I was that same age. I also lost my beloved grandma a few months ago. Combined, they brought out feelings. Loss. Love. Innocence. Longing. Nostalgia.
It is bittersweet to look back on those memories. I sigh and smile at the innocence of it all, but that it can also never be regained. Watching that movie made me wistful of a time when loving someone was simpler. Of course, dating was easier then too. How often did you go out with someone in high school just because they were interested in you? Or maybe that was only me. — It was also the reason I stopped being interested in Gary. If I had had more self-esteem and confidence then, I might not have gotten caught up in the attention another boy gave me.
Fast forward to the present. Here I am searching for my Mr. Right. I now have ridiculously high standards that this man will have to meet. I no longer just date a guy because he flirts with me. I now have the confidence to know what I want, as well as my self-worth. Maybe this has also made things more complicated.
Sometimes, I dream of it being simple again. – That I don’t know of it being any different. Deep down, maybe all I really want is that farm boy next door, to sweep this “farm girl at heart” off her feet. A down-to- earth gentleman. One who wants to kiss under the stars, who wants to hold hands- hold me, and who will remind me how sweet and beautiful falling in love can be. No games, just honest, simple, and pure.
Something tells me, I probably won’t find this on Tinder…