Friday, 12 November 2010

First Love

Lorenzo Quinn - First Love

There are nights when sleep will just not come to me and all that remains to do is to give up and give in, and compose myself in patience, allow myself to drift.

Mentally, I spread my wings and let my thoughts go where they will, flying high above the landscape of my memories, alighting here and there on the peaks and skimming the troughs.

One night recently I landed on a memory dear to me, but long in the past. When I was seventeen, there was a boy I loved very much. He was nineteen, a college drop-out, a bit wild, tall and lanky, who owned a Vespa. He was my first true love. We suffered all the pangs that young love brings, the heartache, the joy, the delirium; it was a time of soul-stirring, blood-quickening intensity. I have fallen in love since, each time there has been great excitement, but no later love has been as sweetly innocent, as new and shiny, as that first one. Neither set of parents approved, which made the experience all the more delicious. My schoolwork suffered, he vacillated between working and going back to college. When a parent put their foot down we broke up, only to get back together again promptly.

We had a blissful time of it, gloriously melodramatic, bitter-sweet; the kind of young love the great poets describe:


And sighful
And pensive in turns,
Now easing,
Now freezing
In anguish that burns,
Drowned in despair,
Demented with bliss,
The lover alone
Knows what happiness is.


Alas, it didn’t last. His parents moved away and for almost a year he came back every few weeks, hitchhiking on the Autobahn, a distance of 600 km, a journey which took him from between twelve to eighteen hours, depending on the kindness of drivers.

Then it was me who left, I started a course in the UK which was to last for two years. We wrote each other passionate letters, but the inevitable happened. Life intervened, new experiences, jobs, studies, and eventually, a new love. He was heartbroken; occasionally, he visited my mother who, very unwillingly, gave him news of me. My new love soon failed but the misery of that commitment continued for many years.

We met just once more, many years later, in London. Germany and England played against each other at football and my first love came over with a group to watch the match at Wembley Stadium.

In the event, he missed it. We met at Piccadilly Circus, in the midst of vast crowds; the meeting was to be a very quick one, before he was to join his mates at Wembley.

Instead, we walked to Hyde Park, spending the whole of a brilliantly sunny afternoon sitting on a park bench; catching up, reminiscing, regretting what might have been and never was; finally falling silent.

We didn’t kiss until we said goodbye at the turnstile into the Underground station, he to return to his hotel to pick up his bag, me to take the train back to my unhappy life.

We could so easily have gone to his hotel;  perhaps it was too late for both of us.

It is true what they say, you only regret the things you didn’t do.


  1. ..."back to my unhappy life"? Oh, no. Life should go onward, not backward. But perhaps it changed? Your unhappy life got happy again?
    A heartbreaking story, sweetly told.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. "...flying high above the landscape of my memory" This was beautiful and captivating. Thank you.

  3. You write so fluently. I like how you describe when sleep doesn't come, 'to give up and give in, and compose myself in patience, allow myself to drift.' Those can be moments of contentment and revelation. Also I like your reference to regrets from the past,..things I didn't do... It's like looking down on life from the promontory of experience.

  4. This was beautiful - bittersweet, but great writing. Your final sentiment is one of my most firmly held beliefs.

  5. You are right about those first loves, Friko, especially where there is parental opposition. As Somerset Maugham said in "The Razor's Edge," "passion thrives on impediment."

    This is a poignant recollection that many of us can relate to. Thanks for openly and honestly sharing this part of your life.

  6. "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these ...'It might have been.'

    Or not. The reality might not have held up to the dream. But the dream is lovely.

  7. I loved reading this Friko. Perfectly expressed.

  8. Open and honest, without a shred of self-pity. Just what I'd expect from you. Thank you, once again, for a superb post.

  9. I signed in to follow your blog,
    welcome following back.

    awards await for you.
    Happy Weekend,

  10. Just beautiful - nothing more to say.

  11. I wrote a comment earlier Friko - guess I did not jump through enough of the word identification hoops for it to publish.....again!

    Anyway, I was touched by the tender longing and recollection in this bittersweet post, and as others have said, it was conveyed so beautifully on the 'page'.

  12. What might have been....doesn't it intrigue us all? Beautifully told!

  13. Each word - an absolute have such a gift.

  14. eine Erinnerung, die Du so lebendig und schön beschreibst, dass sie sehr nahe geht und fast muss man schon weinen, denn wie oft passiert es, dass man die falsche Entscheidung trifft und somit den Lauf des Lebens, wenn auch nur für eine gewisse Zeit, in die falsche Richtung lenkt.

  15. A story of young love expressed so well ... beautifully written.

  16. You have a beautiful way of observing your mind and memory. And you are deft at gathering the shards of many years in an interesting way, and as George said, one many of us can relate to. The human journey is a mystery, having our individual mixes of joy and regret. This is a beautiful and melancholy piece that touches me. Thank you.

  17. These memories come back to play with us, to distract us, to taunt us. Things happened as they did. If they had gone differently, where would I be now?
    I'm off for a walk to think these things over.

  18. That first love is special one. I had the opportunity to see my first love a couple of years ago and I simply couldn't find the boy in that old man. I'm sure he felt exactly the same about me.

  19. Our first loves are precious, even if they aren't always "right." You tell this beautifully.

  20. I am so glad you didn't go back to that hotel, Friko.
    Now you have this wistful, might-have-been angst, and there is nothing better.
    Because it always is so much better in the imagining....
    I have a few of those myself.

  21. Great post, Friko. And I love the line in that poem - 'Demented with bliss'. So so true.

  22. I read this yesterday and had to think about it before returning to comment. It made me realise that I have never had what you had, a reciprocal love. I have loved and been loved, but never loved one who loved me back or vis versa. It made me a little sad, but how can I start now, regretting something I hadn't thought about before?
    What you had was very special. You are lucky to have those memories to warm you.

  23. Your piece was a dance; made all the more lovely by the sweetness of your personal memory. Thank you.

  24. oh friko. romance and love and distance and closeness. time and the flying by of others as you wait and wait for the whole to come together and then never again does that happen. beautiful writing - from the heart. steven

  25. This reminiscence of yours, like its
    situation is wonderfully sweet; the more
    so with the years spanning them and
    today. As a lad of 17 myself, getting
    ready to graduate high school, and get
    out there and set the world on fire,
    I often wonder why in the midst of
    a bad complexion, peer pressure, family
    circus, angst, and soaring lack of
    confidence--how it was that I never
    had that first love experience?
    I think of myself as a romantic, always did,
    and yet what many young men remember,
    what I recall was the first woman, five
    years my senior, to make love to me.
    All the rest of it seem a tease, an emotional
    scuffle, a preamble to the budding of
    manhood. I love your lines /but no later
    love has been as sweetly innocent, new
    and shiny, as that first one./
    I am envious of the tale, of your memory, and
    your vivid recall.

  26. friko....

    This is magnificent.

  27. What a beautiful job conveying this recollection of yours, Friko. Ah, those poignant regrets ...

  28. A melancholy story – regrets are sad.


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