There’s something about your first love that seems to haunt you for life. It’s the first time that you let yourself completely go. You open your heart and soul in such a way that you are completely vulnerable and exposed for the first time in your life. There is a sweet, once-in-a-lifetime naivety to it that will never come again that you will look back on with a wistful smile of different times.
After that first love is broken and lost, you go through life with more experience. You love again, but almost never with that same selfless abandon. You never fly quite as high again and you never trust again with the same overwhelming blindness.
There are so many things about my past that have become blurry with time, but I remember my first love with a startling, frightening clarity. I remember the first meeting with absolute confidence. I can recall his smile, his smell, the color of his eyes, the touch of his hand, and the gentleness of that first kiss. I don’t look back with regret, but with a sad smile of a lost, perfect moment in time that will never happen again.
I’ve loved again, but the intensity has always been different. The lightning bolt is gone, replaced with a slow, gradual burn. The new loves are not less in value, only different.
For me, that first love extends to books as well as men.
Last night, I revisited the first book that I ever wrote. It is an epic fantasy novel that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. I started writing it when I was a freshman in high school. I have extensive notes, maps, and character lists to keep track of all the details. Amazingly, it’s as long as any of my Dark Days novels and if not more complex in its storytelling.
I sat in the dark in my office last night, lit only by my computer screen, staring at the start of that book. I told a friend about the plotline of not only the first book, but the second book, which is more than half written. As I spoke, I recalled how much I loved this book and these characters. It was the same selfless, blind abandon of a first love. There were no worries about rejection or failure. There was only the story and me.
Time passed and I wrote other stories. I moved on to urban fantasy after I was filled with fears that the epic fantasy wasn’t original enough. I got published with the Dark Days series, but I never forgot about my first love. I envy now those early days of reckless abandon behind a keyboard without deadlines and editors.
Most of the time, you can’t go back to that first love. It’s lost to life and time and experience. But I plan to go back to this epic fantasy one day. I will have a wealth of experience to bring to it and stronger storytelling skills that will only help her. However, despite my new view and knowledge of writing, I will say that the one thing that hasn’t changed is my love of this story. The electricity is still there. That first kiss. Those startling blue eyes and crooked, unsure smile.
First loves leaves us, but they almost always help define us.