It is a horrible cliché, but a true one in this case: what we had was pure. It lasted three weeks, a period that back then felt like an enormous, life-changing stretch of time, even though in our minds today it just feels like three quarters of a month, a paycheck-and-a-half, a blip on a vast landscape of defunct love affairs. But we were sixteen and seventeen, and we took it seriously because it we were the ones in it, and because it was our first. A summer arts camp relationship – how silly! But how real.
We were parted by circumstance, complete with a tragic goodbye scene: we held each other and sobbed, you were admonished to just get on the bus already, and I watched your face through the window as you rode off toward the airport to return to Toronto. It wasn’t fair. Everyone else had seemed to have a relationship by then, and now that I had finally found someone for me, he had been snatched away. I wondered if anyone in my own country would ever love me.
We tried to keep in touch, of course. We IMed and wrote back and forth; we may have discussed the possibility of visiting one another. I tried to envision us being together in the future, and entertained the fantasy for a while, but knew in my honest moments that you would find a nice girl and be with her instead. I would find…well, I’d just have to see. I don’t remember when we stopped saying “I love you” and pretending we’d never move on – we just did.
You went off to college a year before I did, and our communication eventually ceased. I accepted the demise of our relationship (not just the romantic one), just as I would accept that my cabin mates were no longer my best friends. I now wonder from time to time about whether Harvard, or New York, or your nice job, have changed you. I wonder if you still think of that silly little relationship we had.
I still remember our first kiss on the soccer field (it was both of our first kisses ever), how awful it was at first, and how much better it eventually got. I remember our first “date,” when you bought tickets for us to see a performance of Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto; you even bought me a flower from the gift shop with what little spending money you had. I remember you holding my hand, and how you would stroke the back of it with your thumb. I remember how we got made fun of because people thought we looked like brother and sister, and how we didn’t give a shit because we were too happy to care. I remember how devastated I was when the reality of having to leave became evident.
I look at our relationship as I would a snow globe. It was a snapshot of who we were then, a moment brief enough to be left unadulterated by fights and bitterness and talks about commitment. We asked nothing of one another, because everything we needed was already there. It was our first, and only, perfect relationship.