Romeo & Juliet

Hi R——,

I was thinking about you tonight and thought I’d drop a line to say hello.

I used to feel odd about how much I reminisce about the past, but then, teaching high school does tend to keep one rooted in their teens. I’m covering Romeo and Juliet with my freshmen and got into a great discussion about love at first site. We explored whether or not teenagers can truly experience love – I mean real honest to goodness love. I found myself telling the story of how I first met you at Waterworks… and then re-met you in Mr. Curtis’ class. In the middle of that conversation, I found myself slip into a reverie which shook loose a lot of old feelings. One girl asked if I still loved you – and without hesitation, I answered yes.

Boy howdy did that fire them up. I was met with a chorus of “But you’re MARRIED! How can you say that?” etc. I realized that I would have a hard time explaining the shades and nuances of love that 35 years gives one, and that the first true love you have stays with you like a dream that never quite fades. I realized after class that we have lived twice a lifetime since then. Half a life ago, you were my first love. And I still carry that love with me like I carry my shadow – unconsciously, subtly, and seldom fully realized unless the light of direct memory is applied to it.

I hesitated writing you about this because the years we’ve spent out of communication might render the moment awkward. I hope that’s not the case. I just wanted you to know that you are still in my heart, that the relationship we shared still brings me great joy, and that I hope you are well.

Selah,
Mark


Mark,

It was just perfect… your email was just honestly, sweetly, longingly perfect. You absolutely were my first love… and teaching teenagers does bring more reminders than one usually gets this many years later. I have read and reread your email, and somehow, your moment of admission with your students has swirled with my own memory of meeting you again in Curtis’ class… Twenty years ago, I would have argued that teenagers can truly experience love, and looking back, I would have been right. I’m not quite sure what my tears are about, except that I feel like I’ve been given a really generous gift — to know that I am close to your heart.

The truth is, I got married so young that sometimes I feel like I have very few poignant and resonating memories prior to that. After finally making my way out my marriage, it took me a while to reclaim the parts of me that have always been, the moments that are solely mine, and the parts of my soul that are deeply rooted in other people. You are all of that to me… it can’t be taken away… you will always be my first love.

Thank you so much for giving me this pause, this heartache, and this genuine smile today.

With love,
R——