[all names have been changed for this story]
. . .So let’s leave it alone…Cuz we can’t see eye to eye…There ain’t no good guys, their ain’t no bad guys, there’s only you and me and we just disagree . . . ..
Dave Mason’s song was playing on the radio and spinning my memory to realize that it was almost exactly one year ago that I received the stunning phone call from my sister-in-law. The phone call with the news about Tom, my first love.
Back when my now-30-year-old daughter was a junior in H.S., we had a conversation about ‘first loves.’ Her theory was that every person’s first true love can never be equaled or eclipsed if fate has you not winding up with that person as your life partner. At that time, I smiled, telling her it might seem like that to her at age 16, but also trying to assure her that likely was not the case. Then I went on to tell her briefly about Tom having been my very first love and how I had felt so lost and empty for quite some time after we’d split. But how I had dated others, married, divorced and then met her dad and how my love for him certainly eclipsed the intense feelings I’d one time had about Tom.
. . . I’m going back to a place that’s far away. How ‘bout you, have you got a place to stay? Why should I care when I’m just trying to get along. We were friends but now it’s end of our love song . . . .
Earlier after our break-up, I admit that I thought very often and very longingly about Tom. As the years passed, he entered my thoughts less and less often. And after I settled into what would become a long and solid marriage, I came to rarely think about him. And when I did, it wasn’t on a romantic level that we might still someday reconnect. Rather, I had a secret hope that perhaps we’d run into each other while simultaneously visiting our hometown.
There was no such luck for me in the 36 years since I’d last seen Tom, who was 1 year older than me and had been in the same H.S. graduation class as my sister-in-law. Every 5 years she faithfully attended her class reunion and each time reported back to me that, no, Tom didn’t show and also did not even provide personal information or his address to the reunion committee.
Tom and I had dated the summer and autumn right after my own H.S. graduation. I was so smitten and so completely in love with him. I would have done just about anything for Tom, including elope.
We did talk of marriage those intense months, with Tom insisting we needed to wait 3 years until he had graduated from college. We never even had any intense argument or disagreement to cause us to split, just a philosophical difference that became an impasse. The result was us each giving the other person the go ahead to move on.
That winter, Tom began dating a woman 3 years older than him. Karen had just moved to our home town to attend the university and work toward earning a master’s degree. Seeing them out together totally crushed me. And then the worst news only 2 months after they had begun dating: Karen was pregnant. She and Tom quickly married and Tom dropped out of college and found a ground floor management job in a town two hours away. Karen stayed put and continued working toward her master’s.
The next time I saw Tom was 3 years later, one Saturday evening when I was out with my first husband, Jim. We’d only been married 2 years and the marriage was already so seriously strained that we were actually separated. That night we were together to attend the wedding of a mutual friend. The wedding was boring but we were getting along okay so decided to go enjoy the band at a place we both liked.