Yesterday was the birthday of my first love. Well, my only love really. We were together for three years; apart now for almost ten. Nothing has come close to duplicating our relationship. I don’t lament it, just reminiscing. As most first loves, it ran its course, I suppose.
My other love brought us together. We met when I worked at Waldenbooks Brentanos, the second of three bookstores on my resume. After that, I worked for publishers, where I was still surrounded by books and book-related things, all day every day. With his baby face and part-time work schedule at the store, I thought he was an underaged minor. I ignored his flirtatious comments and come-ons. Turned out he was three years my senior and an RA at a nearby college. I accepted his invitation to the movies the week of my birthday in April.
He wasn’t my first boyfriend, a spot held by someone who should’ve remained just a friend. He was my second boyfriend, but the first and only man to “woo” me. Surprise -just-because flowers left on my windshield, good morning, afternoon and night phones calls. He bought me orange juice and vitamins when I had the flu. He genuinely cared when he asked “how was your day?” He opened doors!
I approached our relationship as a platonic, professional one. I liked to pretend I was his boss, but my Assistant Manager title to his Sales Associate title didn’t really hold any weight, especially with our skeleton crew staff. The title gave me a key to the store and the code to the safe under the register, but we all did the same things.
Most of the time, sales were slow so staff hung out together behind the three registers. Some closing shifts, it was just him and me, flipping through magazines, playing inappropriate music through the speakers, and sharing stories about school, friends, family. I was comfortable and not worried about what he thought of me. I was me. A me that some call weird, funny, crazy and quirky—traits that he later told me he loved about me. Somewhere along the way as I got older and met new potential beaus I thought I had to hide those traits to get them to like me, and hopefully, eventually, love me.
I’m trying to find the old me. Perhaps when I find her, I’ll find another him again.
*Rubber Gloves Or Jimmy Choos by Faith Bleasdale