by Diana Thompson
There are many things in life which I love. I love a good cup of tea. I love my camera. I love that moment when a cat waltzes over and sits on your lap after hours of feline indifference.
I love your hair. I love that dress. I love this song. Love as a concept changes to fit the level of emotion which we are trying to convey, and gets banded around with a relaxed ease. It’s often read and understood within the specific perimeters of our situation – my girlfriends know when I tell them I love them, it doesn’t mean I want to run away to Vegas and get married. I love my absent family in a different way to how I love those who have ushered me into the warmth of their hearts. I love how I live in London, but on a clear night can see lots of stars from my bedroom window. They are all emotional stirrings caused by the same four letter word. Yet somehow we inherently know the difference between the love of something nice, and the love that makes you ponder an infinite future in the arms of someone else.
But what about the first love? Is it something utterly different? When asked who my first love was, my mind completely skipped past my first boyfriend to the first person I ever lived with. This was despite being sure I had loved both partners in similar ways “at the time”. Does our first love change with hindsight and new adventures? Do our memories get consigned to the back of the wardrobe, like that favourite dress from when we were 16?
I would argue that we have multiple experiences of first love. Each new romantic partner brings with it a more seasoned assortment of new feelings which feel different to how we remember them with previous partners. Although I don’t doubt the feelings I had as a teenager were any less real, life experience allows you to grow with each “new first encounter”.
I know that the love I feel for my boyfriend feels different to the love of any previous partner. I know how happy I felt when we shared our first kiss, how excited I was at the prospect of our first Christmas, the joy and anticipation of setting up a home together. Despite us both having done it all before, it felt incredibly new with the joint weekly supermarket shop acting as an adventure in domestic bliss. The way he strokes my hair makes me melt. It’s the teenage butterflies with an adult’s appreciation. A first love, combining the elements of frivolity, passion, stability and longevity.
If pressed for an answer on my first love, I would say it’s him. I’m generally not the soppy type, but I find myself uttering to girlfriends how “I’ve never felt this way before”. Anyway who can make me say and feel things like that must be a first. He makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world every day.