Dear Delilah Fans, this time around I’m sharing something personal. Usually I try to give you something fun to read, something sexy or at least a bit of a tease. This time is different.
I’m excerpting part of my September newsletter here. This past weekend, I attended my high school class reunion. You know, that moment when you stare into the eyes of your very first ever true love?
We’ve all been there, those weeks, even months leading up to the event when you panic about that extra weight and the sag under your chin. What will you wear? What about the hair cut, the shoes, the status of your fingernails?
Of course everyone else who attends suffers similar anxieties. No one is magically becoming younger. But that certain knowledge does little to settle the butterflies wreaking havoc in my stomach as the day of the event arrives.
We’ve stayed in touch over the years. I’ll call him Alan. Soon after college, he moved to New York to engage fully in his chosen profession. I stayed in the mid-South. I’ve married and divorced while he’s stayed single. In most romance novels, this class reunion would be a chance for the old embers of our love affair to re-ignite.
But friends, I’m going to tell you a secret. And it’s complicated, so I’ll back up a bit. Throughout those agonizing years from 9th to 12th grade, all those nights we held hands, went to movies, parked and steamed up the car windows, we never went “all the way.” In those days, that kind of restraint wasn’t uncommon. It was our first year of college together before opportunity and enough alcohol finally led to making love.
I was one of those skinny flat-chested girls who could make straight A’s but couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to flirt. The game of seduction completely eluded me. I wanted to talk about metaphors and the history of the human race.
But I also desperately wanted to be sexy, to be desired. I longed for the day when a man would approach me with so much passion that he’d slam me against the wall and force his attentions. That never happened with Alan.
We kissed after dating six months. He touched me about six months later. We got into heavy petting a year after that.
I considered myself a failure as a woman. Not only did I lack any semblance of womanly curves, I also possessed zero understanding about how babies were made until I was sixteen years old! Thanks to very protective religious parents, my knowledge of all things sexual suffered abysmal gaps. So that was definitely a factor in the slow progress of our relationship.
In that drunken 4 a.m. loss of my virginity, I experienced incredible pleasure. The event truly shook my world. I panicked afterwards thinking I’d get pregnant. That was a real threat in the days before the morning after pill, the days when abortion was still illegal.
OK—I’m giving away my age.
Alan moved to another state and we didn’t see each other for decades. Somehow over that time, word leaked back through mutual friends that he’d become a big success in New York. Another bit of information also made its way to my ears. Alan was gay.
It’s hard now to imagine a time when being gay simply did not cross someone’s mind. It wasn’t an option, didn’t exist. But all those years of adolescence while he struggled with how he felt about me, his inner voices were telling him something he could not understand.
It took some therapy and a lot of struggle for him to come to terms with his reality. That all happened off screen for me. I was busy having babies and dealing with a difficult marriage. Finally we met up for coffee on one of his visits back to the area and he told me what he’d learned about himself.
I understand now that what I considered my failure as a woman was at least in part Alan’s inability to respond fully to me as a man. That really doesn’t make it any less painful. Those early experiences framed my self-identity. I feel inexpressibly sad for both of us.
When I saw him at the class reunion, he looked at me with such an expression that I’ll never forget it. We ended up spending a lot of time together driving around that old town looking up places we’d known before. We sat and talked about his life, my life, the misunderstandings, the what-ifs.
From that reunion grew the certain knowledge that what we’d experienced as teenagers would always be part of our lives. We’ll always care about each other. The thread that connects us goes beyond sex.
And that, my friends, is a truly loving thing.
Subscribe to my free monthly newsletter for the rest of this month’s content where I briefly delve into polyamory, gender identity, and the new discussion about the reality of more than two sexes! Most of my newsletters aren’t this serious but instead contain excerpts of new novels, sexy short stories, and other fun reads. Sign up is easy and you can always unsubscribe at any time. Visit http://eepurl.com/bHOyS9 for the quick and easy sign up form. Thanks!
About the Author
Lizzie Ashworth lives in the wilds of the Ozark Mountains with her cats, hound dogs, and whichever child has taken up temporary residence between grad school and relocation. She’s been writing her entire life and can’t express how wonderful it is to share stories with readers like you.
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