|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 pensive in turns,
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.